WEST CUMBRIA MAY seem off the beaten track, but, for 15 million visitors to the Lake District close by, it often offers a dry day! This coastline is often missed by birders, rushing past to Hodbarrow and Walney to the south and the cliffs of St Bees to the north, but it can make a nice change with dramatic sandy spits created by the Rivers Irt, Mite and Esk dropping their spoils from the hills to the sea. To add to the day, you can actually see the highest wall of a building still remaining since Roman times, with a woodland walk adding to the habitats visited. The area was once famous for its Black-headed Gull colony, that numbered 10,000 in 1976, fell to 2,000 in 1983 and then to none in 1984. Several species of terns nested with the gulls but now they only visit to feed with Common, Sandwich and Little Terns, mainly coming from Hodbarrow. Little Egrets are a ‘new’ species seen 12 months of the year but as yet no real breeding attempts have been recorded, even though there is a large heronry at Muncaster. Waders vary from Redshank, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher in the breeding season to recent wintering Common and Green Sandpipers, along with Greenshank. Wildfowl in winter include Wigeon and Teal along with a feral Greylag Goose population, which has had the odd Snow Goose with them of unknown origin and up to eight Greenland White-fronted Some flora is unique with Sea Kyle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Sea and Portland Spurge Geese. Passage Ospreys have been seen moving up the coast, along with records of Black Redstart and Quail on Eskmeals, while a Desert Wheatear was seen in autumn 2015.