Trip reports

Haybridge reserve - another hidden gem to wander through

Haybridge reserve - another hidden gem to wander through
On the mosses - Laura Bimson

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A dozen members of the group set off for the Lakes on a damp morning that soon turned to a thoroughly wet one. But undeterred, we gathered at Haybridge, which is a privately owned nature reserve (though membership is open to anyone at £10 per year-single) in a dramatic setting on the edge of Grizedale Forest and the Furness Fells.

'Perhaps these woods of oak and birch may teach you unawares ....truths that escape the eyes that view the world from study chairs'.

The potential for a great day's birding was obvious, the reserve has mixed habitat with easy way marked trails, however the day we had picked to go was unfortunate. Dreich, atrocious -just some of the words to describe the weather endured for the first 3 hrs of our visit.

The first birds we noted, from a commotion heard near to the car park, was a gt spotted woodpecker intent on mischief around a blackbirds nest, the parents attacking their adversary with all they could muster.

The morning's walk took us through coppice wood with its charcoal burner's hut, wonderful native deciduous woodland, much of it coppiced to retain open areas. Song thrush, willow warbler and the deeper notes of garden warbler accompanied us, and the sheets of bluebells everywhere more than compensated for the grey skies overhead. In fact wild flowers were in abundance, throughout the reserve, wild daffodil and primrose, anemones, stitchwort, ransoms, cuckoo flowers and various fungi to name a few.

The trail took us out of the woods and lead us to open landscapes with great views of the Rusland valley and it's river course. Further on we come to the white moss tarn; on the water we saw mute swans, tufted duck, mallard, little grebe and a greylag goose with her goslings.

Eventually the rain had the better of us and we returned to the visitor centre for some lunch. (Hot and cold drink facilities on site by the way)

The visitor centre /museum has several feeding stations, very busy stations with siskins, redpolls, goldfinch and chaffinch vying for space on a niger tube, whilst various tits and a nuthatch shared a nut feeder. Further away a great spotted woodpecker was feasting on peanut feeder hanging on a tree, not much competition there!
A welcome tick of the day was an obliging spotted flycatcher seen in the trees behind the centre. Whilst an engaging pair of swallows were very busy flying in and out of the barn were they had nested.

The reserve is home to red and roe deer; here we were not disappointed a large herd of red deer, over 50 individuals wandered out of the undergrowth into open pasture. Ears pricked, not doubt listening to every word we uttered (just as well as there were several signs of poacher alert warnings dotted around the reserve)

Cheered by this company, and the eventual lifting of the weather, we headed off for a completely different habitat. The SSSI sites of Hay bridge Moss and Rusland Moss, a raised lowland bog, is edged by the intermediate Lagg Fen, a very wet area of willow and alder, thickly covered in mosses and a rich plant habitat in its own right.
A wooden board walkway leads through the mosses, this in an area noted for other wildlife, sadly absent due to the inclement weather, dragon and damselflies, newts, common frogs and toads. Adders, slowworms and common lizards are also found on the reserve, alas no sunny spot for basking today.

A word of warning for visitors to the reserve on wet days, please take care on the wooden bridges and boards, these can be extremely slippy, sadly discovered by one of our party who ended up with a sore purple rump and worse, a pair of broken binos.

Nearing the wooden bridge on the trail our party had its first sighting of another good tick for the day, pied flycatcher, a fine female flitting about a nearby shrub. Further along the trail and out in the open mossland, where there was less cover for birds, a tree pipit was observed perched high in a solitary tree. This area showed obvious signs of conservation management, clearance of trees to preserve the mosslands.

The path we were on is a circular route however a little further on we had to turn back as the ground was too sodden to continue, but not before a few of our party had a brief view of a red kite swooping down from it's lofty perch and down into the tree line. Mute swan and Shelduck grazed the fields beyond and a pheasant's harsh call was a regular background cry.

We retraced our steps to the centre; again a pied flycatcher was espied, this time a splendid male. Redstarts are regular breeders here on the mosses and were keenly sort after by the group , however only a couple managed the next sighting of this elusive bird , sighted by Terry and Sean a little further down the trail.

On our return to the visitor centre, we sat on the terrace, telescopes trained on the hillside and tops, hopeful of a sighting of Red kite, honey buzzard or osprey's returning from fishing trips to the Duddon estuary ... Not today... the mute swans and shelduck from earlier did a flypast and a single goosander was the unexpected bird.

All in all, despite very unfavourable conditions, we had an excellent day out, and were very grateful to Terry, who is a member of the reserve, for guiding us.

If you plan a visit don't forget to have a look around the museum/workshop, some interesting bird's nests, tactile mammal skins, deer antlers and exhibits on show.
Oh and if you find a sodden blue, silver flecked woollen scarf in the woodland. It's mine!

Bird list
Siskin, chaffinch, robin, crow, gt spotted woodpecker, blackbird, mute swan, greylag goose, tufted duck, tree pipit, lesser redpoll, gt tit, coal tit, spotted flycatcher, swallow, pheasant, swifts, reed bunting, rook, lesser bb gull, shelduck, mallard, red kite, pied flycatcher, willow warbler, wren, nuthatch, goldfinch, buzzard and little grebe