Trip reports

THE OTHER BORROWDALE

Nuthatch on branch

Friday, 22 May 2009

This was a new spot to go to for many of the 15 keen birdwatchers that turned up on a warm and sunny day. With only a slight breeze at times, it promised to be a good day with excellent visibility. Unlike the well known Borrowdale of the Lake District with Keswick and Derwent Water at its Head, this quiet, unspoilt valley lies just off the M6 near Tebay, on the road to Kendal.

As we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the song of a garden warbler in the trees by the side of the small car park. The song was clear and constant but it took quite a while before it appeared on the front side of the trees and gave everyone a good, if fleeting, view of one of our most delightful summer warbler visitors. Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Swallows were also seen from the car park before we set off on the walk.

Setting off through the gate into the woods on a stony track, one of the group managed to spot a Pied Flycatcher within a few metres of the gate. As we stood and watched its antics above the stream, someone else caught sight of a Spotted Flycatcher in the opposite direction. Two of our target birds within 50 metres of the cars! Someone had earlier told us they had seen a Kingfisher over the stream but we failed to catch sight of one.

The early part of the walk meandered through light woodland during which we also caught site of Nuthatch and Wren. Where the track emerged from the woods we started to see Tree Pipits, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtail and Grey Heron. Scanning the hills on the far side of the stream and watching Buzzard and Kestrel hunting over the fell side, we caught site of wild Hill Ponies and two Red Deer on the tops of the fells.

Crossing over the stream and entering a wider part of the valley, we stopped for lunch by the stream and hoped for a sighting of a dipper. Unfortunately none appeared. We then set off further into the valley, more open and with occasional Gorse and scrub patches, we were soon rewarded with excellent sightings of Meadow Pipit, Linnet, showing well in the sun, and a distant but clear view of Stonechat on a stone wall with a wren sitting nearby. Further on near our turning point at the Farmstead, we caught fleeting glimpses of Grey wagtail around the farmyard.

Strolling back to the cars we were entranced by the Sand Martins wheeling over the Streams and disappearing into their nest holes in the streams sandy banks.

Re-crossing the bridge over the stream, we finally managed to catch sight of a Dipper on the edge of the stream by an outflow from the fields. We had to be careful with our binoculars at this point as some of the more observant amongst us had noticed a nude sunbather a hundred yards away on the other side of the stream. They had initially noticed her husband sitting reading the newspaper by the car when they scanned the hill side for Meadow Pipits - at least that is what they told us...

As we meandered back to the car park, we all reflected on what a beautiful day it had been and what a delight the other Borrowdale had been - certainly a spot well worth revisiting in the future.

By Fiona and Malcolm Alderton

Library photo: Nuthatch