Trip reports

Bassenthwaite Lake & Wythop Woods - 26/04/14

Nuthatch on branch
Nuthatch - RSPB Images

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The weather really wasn't looking promising as we headed up the M6 to the Lake District. As the rain & wind lashed the cars we were actually asking each other how mad we had gone to be even entertaining birdwatching in this weather!

By the time we arrived at Wythop, at the north west end of Bassenthwaite Lake, the rain has eased slightly but all the waterproofs went on and we began our walk along Wythop Beck. A good number of willow warblers were out and about despite the rain, singing their descending song from the hawthorn bushes. As we reached the farm a number of swallows were seen swooping in and out of the various outbuildings and a few were collecting mud from the path - there were certainly plenty of puddles for them to choose from!
On into the woods and we got a brief glimpse of a green woodpecker as it flew by. We heard at least two birds throughout the walk but this was the only time we saw one.

Treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch were all feeding around the canopy but the real draw was the redstart! A stunning male was seen flicking between low branches and the ground.

Further down the track we were stopped by an unfamiliar call - it was coming from the woods to our left and though we were all searching we couldn't locate the source of the sound. The call changed slightly and became slightly more recognisable - it was a little owl! It was a shame we didn't get to see the bird but it was still nice to hear.

A tree pipit was the next bird we came across, singing and displaying from the top of a tree. A good number of pied flycatchers were also present throughout the woodland, some were using the numerous nest boxes which have been put up which meant we could watch them for a while, to-ing and fro-ing with food.

As we reached the end of the wood and came out onto the moorland we added stonechat and meadow pipit.

We turned back and by the time we got back to the farm the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. A cuckoo began calling not too far away so 3 of us headed back down the path a short way to see if we could locate it. We were all scanning the tops of the trees and the fence posts but in the end the bird was located low down in a hawthorn bush - the last place you would usually look! I headed back to the rest of the group to ensure everyone got onto the bird. In the mean time the others had located a male ring ouzel which everyone eventually got a decent view of.

The day was looking up - some great birds already "in the bag" and the weather had cleared up, we weren't so mad after all!

We had lunch at the viewpoint on the Whinlatter road which provides a stunning view of the lake and the surrounding countryside. Some of us even visited the ice cream van - summer had arrived!

The early afternoon was spent walking through Powterhow Wood down to the shore of the lake. On the lake itself we found goosander, tufted duck, goldeneye, teal and wigeon. A group of cormorants were drying their wings on the far side while a lapwing displayed in the field behind. All these birds were very nice to see but we had really come to see the ospreys but so far there had been no sign. We were regularly checking the trees at the south end of the lake where the nest platform is and we were also looking at the watchpoint on the other side of the lake to see where the people there were looking in case they had the birds in view! Then, when checking the trees again, a bird was spotted. It was sat on the tree next to the nest platform feeding. It was quite distant but we all got a view.

We decided to stop off at Leighton Moss on the way home and we were glad we did - a stunning black tern was giving great views from Lilian's hide.

Despite the dubious start we had a wonderful day in the end, picking up some great birds.