Trip reports

Visit to Geltsdale RSPB Reserve

Heather moor at Geltsdale

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

15 arrived at the car park on a bright morning with a slight breeze, to meet Dave O'Hara, the warden who led the walk round the Stagsike trail. This started through farmland (sheep pasture), with curlews alarming at hunting kestrels and buzzard. We had good views of a kestrel mobbing the buzzard. Meadow pipits were everywhere and chaffinch, blackbird, wren and pheasant were plentiful. Pied wagtail, swallow, house martin, goldfinch, starling and house sparrow were seen round the few farm buildings.

The trail continued through "woodland" - this consisted of 50-60,000 young trees planted in 2003-4, already big enough for willow warblers and occasional whinchat and whitethroat. A small stream yielded sand martin and an empty dipper nest: one dipper was seen flying very high downstream. The higher ground had lapwing and black-headed gull.

Round the centre (Stagsike cottage) were reed buntings, stonechat and whinchat, with stock doves and a kestrel nest in a large barn. In the centre we were able to see live videos of the kestrel nest, with 5 chicks, and of the barn owl nest in the roof of the centre, with the female brooding 7 eggs and the male in attendance. The surrounding wet meadows had a large flock of Canada geese, with a few redshank (with chicks) and lapwing. There was a brief glimpse of a snipe. On the nearby tarn was a black swan(!) and mute swan, coot, mallard, moorhen and lesser black-back gulls. Sedge warblers sang in the bushes and reeds.

After a picnic lunch in the centre garden, the road led over high pastures back to the car park.
Many thanks to Dave for his most informative guidance.

Birds seen/heard:-- Starling, Meadow pipit, Kestrel, Buzzard, curlew, chaffinch, sedge warbler, pheasant, swallow, blackbird, swift, house martin, wren, skylark, sparrowhawk, pied wagtail, robin, willow warbler, linnet, goldfinch, house sparrow, crow, rook, jackdaw, mistle thrush, sand martin, dipper, whinchat, reed bunting, great tit, stock dove, Canada goose, redshank, dunnock, black swan, snipe, stonechat, mallard, mute swan, coot, moorhen, lesser blackback, magpie.

Jill Blackburn