The high tides have been peaking over the last few days, consequently the saltmarsh has been flooding. However, frosty nights have resulted in lingering hoar frosts and misty days. All this has had a profound effect on estuary birds.
On the 24th, with frost and mist all day, all the pools back over on the Reserve were frozen. Wigeon, Mallard and Teal, which usually frequent the Reserve wetlands, migrated to the saltmarsh shore and were making use of the flooded areas on the saltmarsh. Occasionally through the mist, flocks of Barnacles could be picked out making their way along the saltmarsh and round the Cardurnock Peninsula.
The Reserve on a frosty morning.
Wigeon landing on the tideline.
Flooded saltmarsh at high tide.
Barnacles in the mist.
The next day, as the mist lifted and the sun came out, at high tide a flock of about 500 Barnacles which would have been flooded off marshes further inland, landed on the saltmarsh. It was gratifying to see the Todd's Canada Goose which had been seen over previous weeks elsewhere on the estuary, amongst them. They could be seen grazing up and down the saltmarsh until dusk.
Cloud lifting in front of Criffell.
End of a passing shower.
Barnacles flying in.
Barnacles on the saltmarsh.
Todd's Canada Goose grazing with Barnacles on the saltmarsh.
Wader roost at high tide.
Still experiencing high tide inundation, the 26th, now quite a bit warmer but damp, produced yet more splendid sightings of about 1000 Barnacles who came to rest out on the mudflats where they proceeded to preen before moving west.
Barnacles coming into land on the mudflats near Saltmarsh Pool.
Barnacles resting on the mudflats.
Barnacles and Shelduck on the mussel scaur.
Little Egret and Teal on Saltmarsh Pool.
Barnacles lifting off and flying west.
It is a truly great place. The mudflats provide food at low tide for thousands of waders but at high tide duck and geese will come in to the adjacent saltmarshes to graze, thus providing us birdwatchers with a grand spectacle as the birds become closer to view.
Currently the Solway estuary holds in the region of 40,000 Barnacle Geese from the Svalbard Peninsula, which solely spend their winters here with us. It also holds an internationally important number of Oystercatchers and we are now seeing flocks of Pink-footed Geese returning north from the arable fields of the SE coast. Whooper Swans in their numbers also winter here. So, you see, there is plenty to see around the whole of the Estuary, for the sharp-eyed of you.
the Solway looks like a great place
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