On Saturday 14th January Rochdale Field Naturalists’ Society left a decidedly cold and damp Rochdale behind and travelled by coach to Knott End. The visit was timed to coincide with a high spring tide which pushes birds off the extensive mudflats of Morecambe Bay towards the shoreline.
The group arrived in bright sunshine and headed to the Fleetwood Ferry slipway which offered a good vantage point for searching the mouth of the River Wyre and the mud of the estuary. The tide, probably helped by the brisk north wind, was already quite high leaving only a limited amount of space available for the large numbers of birds escaping the advancing water. Close examination of the seaweed covered strip of land at the side of the jetty revealed numerous Turnstones busily feeding and appropriately, given the location, a Knot. There were good numbers of Oystercatchers, Dunlin and Curlew on the mudflats close to shore and many more flocks of waders could be seen flying over the bay.
Turning their backs to the wind the group then headed inland following the Wyre Way south to Barnaby’s Sands. Shortly after leaving the coast a beautiful male Eider was spotted close to the river bank providing an excellent opportunity for the photographers to obtain shots of this elegant duck. Two Kestrels were hunting along the river bank and later several other sightings were had of the falcons hovering over fields and being mobbed by Carrion Crows. Other birds spotted on the farmland included Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Pied and Grey Wagtails and Twite.
When the group reached the salt marshes at Barnaby’s Sands the tidal pools were full with large numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Shelduck on the water. The muddy islands were covered with Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing which entertained the group with aerial displays while lunch was eaten. Then as the group was about to start back a Hare was spotted in the field only a few yards away from the path.The return journey followed a more inland route and as the group walked back large skeins of Pink-footed Geese passed overhead and a lone Buzzard was seen circling in the distance.
The sun was setting over the bay when we left at the end of a beautiful day having enjoyed a very pleasant walk and seeing 55 species of birds in total.