With almost continuous messages with sightings from the East Coast since I arrived in the West, the need to get out was felt more than ever! Handing in my final Media Production at 12:00, I found myself travelling South, to South Walney Nature Reserve. I'd never visited the site before, but had heard plenty about it.
I wasn't disappointed, by the time I arrived the sun was out, with a light easterly breeze. Driving through and past Windermere with its extensive woodlands, and peaks in the background really does make Cumbria a beautiful county. Walney Island is no exception, with its vast marshes, mudflats and grazed sandy ground, coupled with industry and the areas history it provides some stunningly unusual views.
The afternoon held, Linnet, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Eider, Herring, Lesser Black Backed, Great Black Backed, and Black Headed Gulls, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Starling, some foreign Emperor Geese, Sandwich Tern and a tiercel Peregrine which had just caught a Skylark.
Heading home via Kirkstone Pass I couldn't resist stopping off at last years haunts on the River Eamont. Parking on the Ullswater road opposite the Sockbridge Mill, you head down a old holloway, with overhanging Hawthorns and Blackthorns which leads you to the river. Once you reach the river a small ford breaks the river into two, forming an island, which was today blanketed with Wood Anemones and Wild Garlic. A Willow Warbler song overhead, a Blackcap and a Chiff Chaff fed low in a nearby Willow, with a Dipper flying by once or twice.
Following the river downstream you reach a small steep sided woodland. It doesn't cover a large area of ground, but its definitely one of my favourite spots in Cumbria. I always seem to be drawn to woodland, especially woodland that can hit all your senses as soon as you pass under its canopy. The first thing is the noise, the tree tops are filled with Rooks and Jackdaws, the Rooks form a substantial Rookery and the Jackdaws fill the cracks in the nearby red sandstone outcrops. They protest your approach and trespassing under their tree's by calling harshly, flying on mass now and again. Scent follows, the congregation of birds has filled the air with the smell of their droppings, almost like that of the Farne's but not as fishy, the closed canopy seems to bottle it up, but every now and then the overpowering smell of the Ramsons pushes through, and you notice the brilliant white clustered flowers, sight. Not a patch of ground is bare, Dogs Mercury, Bluebells, Primroses, Wood Anemones, Violets, Ferns and Mosses to name a few, Honeysuckle and Ivy climb the tree's. Through all of this you can eventually feel the wood.
The River Eamont runs gently alongside, I was surprised to find a reasonably confiding Red Breasted Merganser feeding amongst the root systems.
Roe Deer, roading Woodcock, and Tawny Owls drew the day to an end.