Roa Island Lifeboat Station and Piel Island, Cumbria
Dr T and I had a day out birding and mooching along the Furness peninsula to Barrow and eventually Walney Island. Roa Island, south of Barrow, is connected to the mainland by a causeway. At its tip is the Lifeboat station, shown here, where the lifeboat launches into Piel Channel. In the midldle of Piel Channel is Piel Island with its 14th century castle and a small settlement. To the right of Piel Island can be seen a thin line of land that is the southern end of Walney Island west of Barrow. Piel can be reached on foot from the Walney side or by ferry from Roa Island.
There is more information on the history of Piel here. The nuclear submarines that are built and reconditioned in Barrow are launched into Piel Channel on very high tides before making their way to the Irish Sea.
We arrived spot on slack water at high tide, and today's tide of 9.9m was one of the biggest of the year. There was no wind, the water was calm, and although overcast, the light was silvery. On most days, you would see a lot more exposed mud than this and much less water. The embayment formed by South Walney and the Rampside peninsula was entirely full of water at high tide.
This was a productive day for new bird species for 2011: siskin (a pair in the garden for the first time ever), eider, brent goose, meadow pipit, rock pipit, linnet, turnstone, knot, grey plover. 2011 total: 90 species. We watched a peregrine buzz a flock of oystercatchers on Walney, creating panic as it flew low along the shingle.