En­joy lovely views over Manx­man’s Bay and the River Dee

Bird Watching (UK) - - September Id Challenge - JOHN MILES

ST MARY’S ISLE is more of a penin­sula than an is­land, but does have a small is­land at its south­ern tip called Insh. The penin­sula was once the lo­ca­tion of a pri­ory founded in the 12th Cen­tury and con­nected to Holy­rood in Ed­in­burgh. It is easy to walk around thanks to a track which takes you most of the way around it. This is also help­ful as it cov­ers the edge of the penin­sula, giv­ing you views over Manx­man’s Bay and the River Dee. The penin­sula it­self has mixed wood­land, along with scrub al­low­ing you to en­joy spring ar­rivals as well as au­tumn waders. Win­ter can see feed­ing waders as well as oc­ca­sional move­ments of geese. The area was made fa­mous for hav­ing one of the ear­li­est breed­ing Spoon­bills in Bri­tain, back in 2008. Three young were raised in a tidal reedbed along the River Dee, with birds of­ten feed­ing near the isle. In re­cent years, Lit­tle Egrets are of­ten seen, 12 months of the year and even Great White Egret can be found, at times. A record of Night Heron proves it’s worth look­ing for the un­ex­pected. Waders are of­ten the main birds to look for as the mud is ex­posed, with reg­u­lar win­ter­ing Green­shank, Curlew, Red­shank, Oys­ter­catch­ers, Dunlin and Snipe. Jack Snipe was a great find for a coastal marsh, while Lit­tle Stint is more likely in au­tumn. Shel­duck are com­mon, while pale-bel­lied Brent Geese oc­ca­sion­ally grace the area. Birds of prey in­clude Pere­grine, Buz­zard, Red Kite and Spar­rowhawk, while Mer­lin is pos­si­ble in win­ter. Black­cap, Gar­den War­bler, Chif­fchaff and Wil­low War­bler are pos­si­ble in spring, Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spot­ted Wood­pecker all year.


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