Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson
Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson
Little Egret near North Plains, a winter visitor to the Marsh

Birds of the Solway Firth

The Solway Firth is home to a vast array of diffrent coastal birds.The solway is a place to see many different imigrant species that over winter on the marshes on both sides of the Estuary, aswell as its resident birds.This page gives information on the different species pictured.  

A Curlew stretches it wings on the wet sand

Curlew Numenius arquata

The Curlew is a very popular bird along our coast, a large wader, that uses its very long beak to search for food under the substrate.The Curlew is the largest wading bird in the western Palearctic, at least twenty percent larger than the Whimbrel.This bird has an unmistakable call, that consists of a long whistle "whaup" sound that echoes across the Estuary.Curlew have been known to gather in flocks of upto several thousand during the breeding season.In Britain they lay there eggs in April, nesting on a tussock of grass.The Solway experiences good numbers of these birds each winter.

Oystercatchers working the sand

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

The Oystercatcher is another very familiar bird along the Solway Coast.Unlike the Curlew, this bird will stray a bit further from the sand , it seems to have become more adaptable over the years, as it can be seen nesting alongside Industrial Estates a few miles from the shore.Oystercatchers use there long, stout bills to chisell molluscs off rocks, and open shells, there Jaw and neck muscles are strongly developed for these tasks.Most of these birds are Migratory but there is a good number of residents that can be seen on the Solway all year round.As with the Curlew, the Oystercatcher lays its eggs in early April ive witnesses there Eggs in short grass in the past.

Shellducks in flight over Burgh by Sands

Shelduck Tadorna tadorna

The Shelduck is a large, somewhat Goose-like Duck with a conspicuous bill and elongated head.These Ducks are widespread along the Solway, another winter visitor to Britain.The Shelduck has a loud call when in flight which makes them stand out on a misty morning on the Marsh.Eggs are laid in a hole in the ground, sometimes using old Rabbit warrens, also nests can be seen above ground in the trunk of a tree.

A wigeon feeds on the wetlands of North Plains near Bowness on Solway

Wigeon Anas Penelope

Wigeon are a delightful duck to watch along the Solway coast, with there distinctive call they are unmistakable.The Wigeon first bred in England in 1897, only occasional breeders in the north of England.The Solway Firth has a large number of Migrants that spend the Winter here.The sound of a wetland full of these colourful ducks is quite special, as there loud musical "whee-00" whistle sound is a very distinctive call.Wigeon regularly mix with Teal, and Pintail ducks on the Solway plain.

Ringed Plover near Port Carlisle

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

The Ringed Plover is another of our winter visitors, but a large number are resident along the solway.These small dainty birds like to congregate in flocks of fifty or more birds.

Teal, a striking duck of the Solway

Teal Anas crecca

Another fantasticaly coloured duck of the Solway, is the Teal, with its vivid green stripe across its face making this duck stand out from the others.The quack of a Teal is quite different from that of a Mallard , in that the Teal has a sqeaky element to its call.

A Little Egret walks along the Marsh land

Little Egret. Egretta garzetta

The pure white plumage of the Little Egret stops you in your tracks as you walk along the Solway Coast, the white colouration against the green grass being highly noticable.The Solway provides an ideal habitat for this winter visitor.The Egret also ventures inland along Rivers and small streams.The numbers seem to be increasing each year on the Solway Firth.  

Barnacle Geese landing on fields on the Scottish side of the Solway

Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis

A cold early October morning, with mist hanging above the Brackish water of the Estuary, the full moon visible in the lightning sky.None of this would be complete without the legendary sound of the Barnacle geese that fill the Autumn mist filled sky of the Solway Firth.With there shrill barking sound resinating across the coast as they fly in great skiens in a long v shape in search for fertile land, the Barnacle brings the Solway to life.Up until the seventeenth Century it was believed that the Barnacle Goose miraculously hatched from sea-shells suspended from rotting wood or the legendary "barnacle tree". But of course we now know that these birds come from there Arctic breeding grounds to over winter on the Solway.The majority of the Barnacle population on the Solway are spitsbergen birds.The solway starts to see these birds in the latter part of September, they remain here until the end of March.