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Good Cumbria site for a couple of noobs?

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Old Monday 1st January 2018, 20:50   #1
dharma66
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Good Cumbria site for a couple of noobs?

In mid February my wife and I will be spending a couple of nights in the Lakes, at the southern end of Derwentwater.

We have a couple of friends in Carnforth, so on our way home Sunday, Im planning to head over to Leighton Moss.

What would be nice would be to find somewhere to spend a couple of hours (or more) on the Saturday.

Ive looked at the Cumbria Wildlife Trust site (which is excellent), but being so inexperienced (at birding, though quite experienced walking in (around!) the Lakes), its difficult to determine what might be a good site at that time of year in terms of bird life. Assuming there are any!

I dont mind driving away from the Keswick area if something would be particularly good. I expect this will be one of our first few birding/wildlife outings, so it doesnt have to be spectacular!

Any suggestions very gratefully received!
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Old Tuesday 2nd January 2018, 21:55   #2
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Oops. Just looked about four posts below this one...

Sorry...
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Old Tuesday 2nd January 2018, 22:11   #3
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What you apologising for Phil? I'm just sorry no-one has answered your query as yet.

It's a long time since I've been there, but Walney Island may be good. I remember going there once and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours.

There's a variety of habitats including fresh and brackish water pools. You can zoom in on that map from the controls on the right to get a more detailed map. I remember there was at least 1 hide, what what condition they're in now after winter weather, I couldn't say.

There's another reserve at Hodbarrow, which came recommended, but we didn't manage to get there sadly.

Depending on tides, you should get some wintering wildfowl there, or anywhere along the coast.

Hope these ideas help.
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 09:18   #4
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If you are walking in the Lakes you will stand a good chance of seeing most of the commoner Lake District birds. The site specific summer migrants won't be around. Most of the interesting winter visitors are on the coast, so a trip to Hodbarrow or up to the north coast would be productive and may pick up stuff you'll not get at Leighton Moss.

Keep an eye on https://www.cumbriabirdclub.org.uk/latest-sightings
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 12:41   #5
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Leighton moss is an excellent reserve , if you can I'd get there as early as you can, go to Causeway or Lower Hides and you stand a very good chance of Otters...
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 12:45   #6
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Many thanks, both!
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 12:48   #7
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Thanks Boom, our posts crossed, so you missed out on 'both' :) It'd be great to see otters!

...How early is early...?
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 12:59   #8
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...How early is early...?
Just as dawn is breaking. The Causeway is on a public footpath, so you don't have to enter through the reserve gates to access it. Also a chance of seeing Bearded Tits on the grit feeders placed at the edge of the reed beds there.

Here's a link to our Opus article on Leighton Moss. At the bottom in External Links is a map of the reserve.
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 13:25   #9
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South Walney would make an interesting contrast to the Lakes but it can be a bit hit-or-miss depending on weather and tides. It can range from spectacular numbers of wildfowl and waders, to just a few birds desperately trying to hide in the furthest corners of the lagoons from the wind. It is very exposed. It can be good for Grey Seals at high tide. It is a long way from Derwentwater though and the roads in south west Cumbria don't hurry themselves in getting anywhere. (I believe the A592 from Bowness to Newby Bridge will be closed for roadworks). A scope is very useful.

Hodbarrow is a nice spot and can be good for wildfowl, with waders on the surrounding mudflats.

At Leighton Moss, the woods just at the back of the visitor centre can be very good because of the proximity of the bird feeders with mixed flocks of tits and finches. There are usually a few Goldcrests and it is an excellent spot to see Treecreepers.

Last edited by andreadawn : Wednesday 3rd January 2018 at 13:34.
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 13:35   #10
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Originally Posted by dharma66 View Post
Thanks Boom, our posts crossed, so you missed out on 'both' :) It'd be great to see otters!

...How early is early...?
We like to get there as close to dawn as possible, we tend to see them at this time of year before 9.30 but they can turn up anytime. Earlier you get there the best chance you'll have. If its iced over it can be really good for Bitterns as well.
Good luck.
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 16:20   #11
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I have seen otters at all times of the day at LM.

The recent storm tides have damaged the salt marsh hides and that whole side of the reserve is closed until further notice. But hopefully open by February!
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 16:28   #12
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I have seen otters at all times of the day at LM.

The recent storm tides have damaged the salt marsh hides and that whole side of the reserve is closed until further notice. But hopefully open by February!
Yes but personally, I have seen them regularly early morning and spasmodically at other times.

That's a shame, hopefully it's not too bad, they are pretty new those hides.
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Old Wednesday 3rd January 2018, 17:42   #13
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Loads of good info here, thanks.

I think we'll probably stay around the north lakes area on the Saturday and then head over to LM early Sunday (though I'm afraid we'll not manage dawn, with civil twilight starting at around 0645!).

For the Saturday, we'll probably pop into one or two of the WLT sites, as I don't want to drive too far (maybe 45-60 minutes max).

It sounds like there will be plenty to see!

Last edited by dharma66 : Wednesday 3rd January 2018 at 20:19.
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