Friday, 27 February 2015

RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve

The Harbour Reserve has been closed for a year due to re-building and it was nice to get back in there this week and look out over the lagoon again. They have added better facilities for staff and groups and there is a proper toilet as well, but the observation room is much the same only without the office in the corner. The roadside hides have been revamped and there is a sand martin bank. They are also putting in a swift tower which will be a novelty for me as I have never seen one. The stars of the show amid the 33 species seen were Iceland gull, redpoll and black-tailed godwit. The first two boosted the year list to 116 but neither looked likely to fly NE for 8 miles and be a patch tick.  The staff are keen and enthusiastic and there are some new volunteers. At least one of them can now tell a coot from a moorhen!!They are charging £3 for non members which will cut down their passing trade and lunchtime visitors from the call centres. I was led to understand that the Rathlin reserve will also be charging £3 when it re-opens later in the year. As a member this does not affect me but I am not sure it is that good of an idea as the harbour reserve will not attract passing trade and the extra charge on Rathlin on top of the boat and the bus will make it an expensive day out for a family of four desperate to see puffins. Rathlin visitors will probably bite the bullet, but folk who dropped in regularly to the Belfast reserve will be less likely to do so at £3 a visit. Forgot to take photos this time but will try to do that the next time I am there. The nearby Kinnegar shore has had reports of spotted redshank and Mediterranean gull but I failed to find either.

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