Thornwick Pool is a relatively small wetland on the eastern edge of the Thornwick & Sea Farm Holiday Centre and consists of open water, surrounded by reed-fringed and muddy margins. Recent habitat creation work, initiated following an agreement between the owners and the Bird Observatory, has greatly expanded the area of optimal habitat.
Within four weeks of work starting in August 2011, 12 species of waders had visited the pool, including Flamborough’s second ever Buff-breasted Sandpiper, together with Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Egret.
Two hides overlook the pool. The original hide faces east down onto the water and gives panoramic views across the outer head towards the Golf Course. A second hide was installed nearer the edge of the Pool in late 2011. It offers fantastic views of wetland species and passerines, the latter coming to either feed on the pool edge or drink. One such species was the first-summer male Citrine Wagtail discovered in May 2012.
Habitat creation work has continued apace, including the recent installation of a new sluice, the further creation of areas of shallow water favoured by feeding waders, and improvements to the small reedbed. Great thanks are due to all involved, especially Thornwick and Sea Farm Holiday Centre, for allowing the Observatory to ‘go wild’ with a digger.
The winter can be pretty quiet, but Mallard and Teal are usually dabbling in the shallows, Snipe present in small numbers, Water Rail are in residence, whilst gulls visit the pool to bathe. The lower hide often offers great views of a hunting Barn Owl in the late afternoon.
Once spring migration is underway, expectations grow and the variety of species increases.
Waders tend to make brief visits during this season, but the mud ridge directly in front of the hide is favoured by wagtails; White and Yellow are regular and there have been records of Blue-headed, as well as the aforementioned Citrine. In summer, Reed and Sedge Warblers breed, whilst the surrounding grassland is favoured by Skylarks. At least three pairs of Barn Owls breed within the immediate vicinity and are frequently observed hunting during the day.
However, late summer and autumn is the busiest period. Green and Wood Sandpipers appear in July and small numbers of Dunlin remain throughout the autumn, often joined by other waders. Water Rails tend to show more readily and it’s surely only a matter of time before a Spotted Crake turns up.
Migrant passerines also favour the small hedgerow behind the hide and Bluethroat and Rosefinch have both appeared since the pool was created.
Visitors should turn off North Marine Road at the entrance of Thornwick & Sea Farm Holiday Centre and after following the access road then turn right immediately after the security barrier before continuing for 120 metres and then turning into the large car park on the right. Its only a short walk across the playing field into the country park, where obvious paths lead to both hides, which are open at all times.
As the Pool is part of the Thornwick and Sea Farm Holiday Centre complex, we ask that all birders please observe the speed limit whilst driving through the caravan park and be patient, courteous and encouraging to everyone visiting the hides.