|The newer of the two lighthouses (both now disused) stands around three quarters of the way down to point, be nice to Andy in advance, you may get a tour|
The reserve varies greatly moving inland from the sandy foreshore, a scrub of dense gorse, grass and Sea-buckthorn flank the concrete road and occasional Pyramidal orchids show a flash of purple in the verges. This gives way to salt marsh and then extensive mudflats through which Curlew and other waders pick their way, their numbers swelled bi-annually by huge flocks of migrants. At the entrance are reed beds and ponds which hide Teal and warblers, and in the evenings Barn owls patrol the local grazing pasture.
|The spit curves markedly into the estuary, the lighthouse is barely visible in the distance.|
|Home for two months. The ex-army bunks and my well organised floor-drobe.|
Whilst there I was working on mapping anthropogenic pressure on the reserve. I have to say I was astounded by the numbers of people who would flock there when the sun shone of a weekend, but in the week it could be calm and peaceful. On occasions when I was alone in the bunkhouse and the fret rolled in from the sea you could easily forget that there was anyone for miles.
Those days when I wasn't working I was free to explore, to brush up my very poor bird ID skills, and to pester whoever was passing through. I made some brilliant friends whilst there, obviously committed to the field, whom I regularly miss whilst out and about by myself. There was always something new to see as well, from the day that the wind carried hundreds of butterflies in from the sea, the fantastic sunsets that would light turn the damp exposed mudflats bright orange, solitary spider wasps bringing back prey to their burrows, to the gathering of the migratory flock toward the end of my stay. The sound of Sandwich Terns in particular (something that I came to begrudge for its constant intrusion whilst working) is something that will always remind me of my summer on the North East coast.
If you like you're spotting (whatever the species), enjoy your walking or want to go somewhere with a little history, I would recommend going whenever you first get the opportunity. Watch out for Brown Tail moth caterpillars, keep an eye out for passing porpoise, tread lightly near the Little Tern colony, and tell them Natalie sent you.
If you want up to date information on what's around, or to stay in the bunkhouse check out the bird observatory website for general information on the reserve visit the YWT website.