Low tide at (Rough Island) Island Hill, Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. With about an hour to go before sunset, and the forecast for patchy cloud and rain, convinced myself to take the 25 minute drive to Island Hill. Glad I did! The causeway to the island is exposed for several hours at low tide, and light rain added to the lush colour of the scene. ‘Between the tides, a range of habitats appear from differing grades of mud and sand to boulders and salt marsh. The area is rich in worms, shellfish and other small animals that are a vast food source attracting migratory birds and waders, with some species found in internationally important numbers during the winter. Eelgrass is abundant and is the principle food source of Brent geese, many thousands of which migrate to the Lough during September and October.’
Extremely secretive and increasingly endangered, the Little Bittern can remain unseen by the birder for a long time (or forever …) when this wading bird is patiently waiting for food to appear without moving. I don’t know about the Little Bittern, but the Eurasian Bittern makes an interesting deep sound, like blowing air over the opening of a bottle, which you can hear where this fascinating bird from the heron family still finds a suitable habitat.
Among the wader specimens , we found this box of taxidermy wader chicks. The three specimens are each of a different species form the genus Tringa. NH.Z.599 is a Redshank (Tringa totanus), NH.Z.600 is a Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) and NH.Z.603 is a Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia).