Trip reports

Upper Lune Estuary - 12th April 2014

Curlew standing on weed, County Cork, Ireland
rspb images

Saturday, 12 April 2014

In sharp contrast to the pleasant warm sunshine that we had enjoyed when on our Sunderland Point
walk two weeks previously, the morning of the 12th April greeted us with a dull sky, a chilling wind and a constant threat of rain as our party met up at the far end of Lancaster Quay.

As with previous years we began our walk at Freeman`s Pool where swallows and sand martins were flying low over the water. Nearer to, a little grebe was spottted - the bird would suddenly disappear from view having dived underwater and then reappear at a point some distance away when it surfaced. On a gravelly patch we could see with the aid of our telescopes a small wading bird, it was a little ringed plover - distinguished from the more common ringed plover by its yellow eye ring. Nearby, half hidden and cryptically coloured, was a snipe and in the water a few yards away a couple of coot and a moorhen were swimming and diving. Behind us in Freeman`s Wood, a blackcap and a recently arrived chiffchaff were singing and now and again there was an occasional burst of song from a male chaffinch that looked handsome in his breeding plumage.
We now made our way along the Lancaster to Glasson footpath to view the farmland on either side of us.Within one of these partially flooded fields we spotted a pair of shoveler in the company and half a dozen teal. Nearer to, the canary-like song of a large party of goldfinch could be heard (this species,was a much less common sight in our area a few years ago). At the base of a hedge some distance away, two brown hares were seen, they were lying low against the strong wind with their ears pressed back against their bodies.
A small flock of long-tailed tits was seen making their way just above the hedgerow, their move- ment accelerated by the strong wind. On one of the pools in the direction of the estuary, two male
gadwall were squabbling for attentions of a nearby female and further out were six shelduck who
suddenly took to the air and flew directly over us. Likewise, a couple of mute swans flew across our path on their `musical`wings.
Over lunch and on our return to the Quay, we enjoyed good views of a further four little ringed plover, one pied wagtail, twelve curlew, another little grebe, a large party of mute swans (some twenty out on the saltmarsh) and a hovering kestrel who appeared to follow us.
Finally, from Freeman`s Wood, a willow warbler started to sing - another reminder of the change
of seasons at this time of the year.

Michael Gardner