Trip reports

Give us the honey?

Give us the honey?
grass snake- l bimson

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Scorchio, a blazing June Sunday saw those of us not celebrating father's day heading for the lakes district, un-rainy day whey hey! Our destinations for the day were Foulshaw Moss and Haybridge nature reserves, but why not take a quick diversion on the way and drop-in to Latterbarrow nature reserve, a lovely little site full of wildflowers and their nectar foragers.

The underlying limestone of Latterbarrow supports grassland seeded with wild flowers such as columbine, ox-eye daisy, bistort, scabious, rattle and agrimony, shrubby rockrose, nettle and brambles. However this is a special site for orchids, such as fragrant, fly and butterfly orchid. Many butterfly species favour the site, including the rarer species; northern brown argus and silver washed fritillaries.

During our brief visit we managed to find 2 butterfly orchids, sadly past their best and hundreds of fragrant orchid, the fly orchid eluded us. We were very pleased to locate a brown argus; we also saw white and green veined white, skipper, meadow brown and ringlet. Next we spotted the first of many dragonflies of the day, a 4 spotted chaser.

Arriving at Cumbria wildlife trust's Foulshaw Moss, we were entertained by an aerial tussle between a marsh harrier and a couple of buzzards, terrific. We were then given a talk by John the warden on how Foulshaw's 350 hectares of peat bog had been restored, including the removal of hectares of conifers and rhododendron and the creation of new habitats including reed beds, openwater, scrub and wet grassland. It continues to develop; a further board walk was in place since our last visitor the reserve.

We then took to the boardwalk. The landscape was beautiful, with the cotton grass swaying in the peat bog, water glistening in the pools. Dragon and damselflies were abundant on the reserve, zooming across the ponds. Sadly we didn't get to see the recently re-introduce white faced darter, but we did see broad bodied chaser and black darter along with the smaller red and blue damselflies.

The bird feeding station was visited by chaffinch, bullfinch, blue, great and coal tit. A couple of treecreepers scurried up a nearby tree.

Redpolls were a pleasure to see, twittering and displaying overhead. Plenty of hirundines on site, taking advantage of the insect bounty sustained by the moss land. By the pools, close to the boardwalk, stonechat and reed buntings were found.

There are two viewing platforms at the end of the boardwalks; these are the osprey watch points. There are 2 osprey nesting sites on the reserve. Distant but observable by telescope. Blue 35 and the male White YW have bred at Foulshaw for the last 3yrs, fledging 8 young. The trust believes they have 2 chicks this year, confirmation hampered as the birds have nested at the newer site, which doesn't have nest cameras!

We descend on Haybridge for lunch and a cuppa, supped in the shady veranda of the Haybridge visitor centre and watchpoint. The reserve, stretching for miles to see looked spectacular, a rural idyllic vision on a sunny day. A cock pheasant greeted us in the courtyard, strutting proudly, with his gaudy bright dream coat.

Luckily for us the spotted flycatchers had returned to the nestboxes on the visitor centre, so we were treated to the comings and goings of the adults feeding their hungry chicks. Too late for the pied flys though, their nest on the moss land boardwalk had already fledged. Siskins, greenfinch, and goldfinches clamoured for their share at the niger feeder.

Surprise sightings was an wonderful view of a common lizard sunbathing on the wall by the veranda and we were amazed when a large grass snake slithered and wound its way across the courtyard as we made our way out to the moss's path. Birdsong of willow warbler, chiff chaff, wren, song thrush, blackbird, and hirundines acompanied us along the path; About half a mile along the path, the trees thin, here we heard then saw a parachuting tree pipit, another 'hoped to see' bird for the day.

Back at the watch point we centred our search over the hillside and ridge of the Rusland valley. This is a good raptor viewpoint, and we were not disappointed as we saw osprey, common and the much sought after honey buzzard, the latter giving himself away with his special butterfly or clapping flight display, whey hey!

Another grand day out in the lakes with the gang.