Over 200 birds in 2020 – recording birds in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park

Golden plover and lapwing (c) Garry Wright

Last year, Richard Doan, Coast and The Wash Assistant Warden, collated a list of the bird species recorded by himself and local birdwatchers in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park with astonishing results

The Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park is the area from the North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards to National Trust Sandilands (the former golf course). A spectacular total of 217 bird species were recorded during 2020.

To put this into perspective very few areas within the county (or country) manage to record over 200 bird species over one year. Gibraltar Point is the only exception to this within Lincolnshire which records on average 220-230 species per year. This certainly illustrates the importance and potential for the Coastal Country Park as being one the most productive areas within Lincolnshire for its avian diversity.

Blue-headed wagtail feeding in grass next to a cow

Blue-headed wagtail - a scarce sub-species of yellow wagtail on Huttoft Marsh in spring 2020 (c) Garry Wright

Furthermore in 2020, the area hosted three national rarities: great snipe on National Trust Sandilands and, Caspian tern and little bittern at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Huttoft Pit nature reserve. These species all require submission forms to be sent for the British Birds Rare Birds committee (BBRC) for their identification to be confirmed.

Breeding birds included three species specially protected under schedule one of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981: two breeding pairs of marsh harrier at Anderby Creek and Chapel Pit fledged four chicks between them, barn owl bred around Huttoft) and there were 10+ breeding pairs of Cetti’s warbler. The breeding density of Cetti’s warbler is possibly the highest in Lincolnshire.

Pair of marsh harriers

One of the two breeding pairs of marsh harriers in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park in 2020 (c) Garry Wright

A marsh warbler held a territory at the Trust’s Wolla Bank Reedbed which was very exciting - the UK hosts less than five breeding pairs of marsh warblers in an average year. The marsh warbler remained in the area setting up a strong territory for six days over June; on the last day it was observed in the coastal scrub showing strong signs of breeding activity. A second bird was later found singing at Chapel Six Marshes. These could very possibly have been a pair (males and females both sing) but unfortunately no nests were confirmed.

Marsh warbler

Marsh warbler - a very rare migrant that held a breeding territory for a week in June. There are only five breeding pairs in the UK in a typical year (c) Garry Wright

There were also high breeding densities of sedge and reed warblers throughout the Coastal Country Park area. During the spring and summer, there were spectacular migration spectacles of thousands of passerines, waders and seabirds.

And in the winter, there were roosts of red-throated diver (possibly of international importance), roosting starlings (peaking at 120,000 birds at Chapel Six Marshes), a herd of whooper swans and numerous skeins of pink-footed geese.

Large flock of starlings

Large murmurations of starlings in November 2020 peaked at 120,000 birds (c) Garry Wright

I have no doubt that future habitat management in selected areas could also establish breeding bittern and bearded tit. Both of these species are also specially protected under schedule one of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

All the records from the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park have been submitted to the Greater Lincolnshire Naturalists Partnership (GLNP) for inclusion into the Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre. 

Cuckoo in flight

Records of cuckoo are increasing every year in the Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park (c) Garry Wright