Trip reports

Visit to South Walney

Curlew standing on weed, County Cork, Ireland

Saturday, 17 November 2012

4 members arrived half an hour early at Biggar Bank, and were soon joined by another arriving from the North. Meanwhile, other cars coming along the A590 were subject to delays as a result of a road accident. It was mid-morning before the day's maximum of 9 members were together at South Walney.

A sunny Biggar Bank provided sightings of various waders along the shore, including golden and grey plovers, turnstones, and 3 sanderlings. A stonechat was seen by one member, while others were able to turn telescopes seawards for a solitary male common scoter and 2 red-throated divers.

The walk along the shore of the inner side of South Walney produced a flock of about 50 ringed plovers feeding on the mud, along with dunlin and redshanks. Other dunlin flocks were circling on the distant edge of the channel. The pools inland held good numbers of both red-breasted mergansers and goldeneye. From the other side we were later able to count 16 greenshank, along with the roosting redshanks, turnstones, and lapwings.

From the vicinity of the hide we watched the tide come in, and ate lunch. Seals swam about off the gull and wader roost - largely herring gulls, and oystercatchers, but with a group of 8 - 10 knot, and 3 bar-tailed godwits amongst them. Those watching the tide were hoping for something to supplement the couple of great crested grebes in front of the hide. The arrival of a largely white (winter plumage) black guillemot was their reward. Skylarks and linnets overflew while we lunched, and a merlin was spotted on a post towards the lighthouse. The resident emperor goose flock was supplemented by a few barnacle geese. As usual at South Walney eiders were regularly seen, with one flock showing well immediately in front of the wader roost.

Moving to the area of the hide behind the lighthouse failed to produce any new species, with little activity out to sea. The walk back to the centre repeated many of the earlier sightings, but provided an appropriate finale with close up views of a flock of about 30 twite. The low sun brightened their plumage, while they fed among the vegetation now recently uncovered by the receding tide.

John Webb