Trip reports

Visit to Sunderland Point

Visit to Sunderland Point
Birdwatching from Sunderland c Ken Harrison

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunderland Point Visit - 30 March 2014

I greeted ten members of the local group at Potts Corner, Middleton Sands, at 9 am on the most beautiful sunny warm spring morning. When everyone was ready I briefed on one or two items, including a suggested target bird being the wheatear. This had to be altered immediately as ten were then spotted on the marsh near the car park, so our next target was swallow. A short way in to the walk we were surrounded by the wonderful song of the skylark and of meadow pipits flitting about on the tracks. In the rushes a jack snipe was observed by John Webb. Pete Crooks then found a reed bunting on a nearby fence. The bird activity was quite intense, so our progress towards Sunderland Point was at a slow pace to allow everyone to enjoy their birdwatching.

As the flood tide reached the outer edge of the saltmarsh, bird activity increased, including a superb assemblage of knot on the tideline. John Webb then observed a swallow, our second target bird, flying over farmland. As the tide was now covering the first section of the marsh and filling the gullies, we sat and ate our lunch as we enjoyed the wader roost as the tide slowly covered the saltmarsh. The knots were the star turn, with c.12,000 birds taking off at regular intervals and putting on the most amazing display as knots do, highlighted by the sunshine! A fantastic spectacle enjoyed by all. Over 1,000 pinkfooted geese in several skeins flew overhead and five whooper swans landed on the tide edge, all on their way to breeding grounds in Iceland.

We stayed with the wader roost until after high water and then proceeded to Sunderland village where we could observe Glasson Marsh and surrounding areas while the tide was in, including the unique view of the causeway still covered by the tide. Our walk concluded by heading off to the Point, observing a few of the historical aspects connected with the place and taking in the newly installed rock armour on the Point, in place just before the 5 December 2013 hurricane and the rest of the storms. Our last observations of note were grey plover off the Point End Scear. I bid farewell and thank you to the group at the lane gate after an excellent day.

Alan Smith - Trip Leader