Great places to see birds of prey

Declines in numbers of birds of prey has been a sad fact of life for many years but thanks to work by conservationists many are seeing a return to our skies - and spring is a great time to see birds in courtship. Cumbria Wildlife Trust has put together this guide for great places to see birds of prey in Cumbria. Coastal wetlands and upland lakes feature here - take your pick!

 

1. Campfield Marsh

RSPB

Marsh harrier. Photo Damian WatersCampfield Marsh lies on the Solway and is wellknown for its coastal birds that enjoy the saltmarsh, peatbog and wetlands that make up the nature reserve. Marsh harriers, as can be guessed from their name, also make the most of this wild habitat and can be recognised by its long tail and light flight with wings held in a shallow ‘V’.

Where is it?

By car: From Carlisle take the B5307 to Kirkbride turning at sign
for Burgh-by-Sands, continuing to Bowness-on-Solway. The main
entrance is at North Plain Farm 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Bowness
on Solway on the unclassified coast road.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian’s Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Bowness on Solway.

More information on Campfield Marsh

Photo: Marsh harrier by Damian Waters Drumimages.co.uk

2. Clints Quarry Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Kestrel. Photo Bob CoyleA fascinating place not only for wildlife but also for geology and industrial archaeology. The damp conditions between spoil heaps are ideal for orchids and the drier slopes are colonised by a host of wild species. Kestrels nest in the cliffs of the quarry in spring and hunt for small mammals in and around the nature reserve.

Where is it?

By car: From Egremont take the A5086 to Cleator then the first left signed for Moor Row. Park in the layby on the right just after the junction or 100m further on opposite the reserve entrance.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian’s Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Egremont to Cleator via Moor Row

More information on Clints Quarry Nature Reserve

Photo: Kestrel by Bob Coyle

3. Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Osprey. Photo: Charlotte Rowley

Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is an internationally rare lowland raised peat bog and has been restored for over 17 years. Ospreys have been using the nature reserve as a stop off point on migration for several years. In 2014 a pair nested and raised chicks and have been returning every Spring, making the nature reserve their home until they migrate at the end of Summer. The fishing oppportunities for Osprey are good here since Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is located close to Morecambe Bay and a few miles from Windermere.

Where is it?

By car: Travelling west along A590 towards Barrow in Furness, at the end of the dual carriageway at Gilpin Bridge, continue for 1km/0.6 miles. Immediately before a signed parking layby on the west-bound carriageway turn left down a track.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 70 Walney to Wear.
By public transport: Buses run from Kendal and Barrow and stop on the A590.

More information on Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve

Photo: Osprey by Charlotte Rowley

4. Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Barn owl. Photo: Margaret Holland

Bowness-on-Solway is a small nature reserve with a surprising diversity of habitats full of interest throughout the year. Barn owls can be spotted hunting here but as they are nocturnal try visiting at dusk. Barn owls are distinctive because of their white plumage and heart-shaped faced.

Where is it?

By car: From Carlisle take the B5307 to Kirkbride turning at a sign for Burgh-by-Sands, continuing through Bowness-on-Solway village. The reserve entrance is the track after Biglands House about 0.75 miles from the village.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian’s Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Bowness on Solway.

More information on Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve

Photo: Barn owl by Margaret Holland

5. Grizedale

Forestry Commission

Red kite. Photo: Amy Lewis

Situated between the lakes of Coniston and Windermere, Grizedale is an ideal place to go walking with views of the lakes and mountains, the shelter of the trees and sculptures in the forest. Red kites were reintroduced into Grizedale Forest in the summer of 2010 and can be recognised by their reddish-brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail.

Where is it?

By car: From Hawkshead follow the B5286 south then take the first right at tourist sign “Theatre in the Forest”, follow this road to Grizedale for approximately 2 miles.
By bicycle: Grizedale is around 5 miles from Regional Route 37.
By public transport: Buses run from Hawkshead and Coniston to Grizedale in summer only.

More information on Grizedale

Photo: Red kite by Amy Lewis

6. Haweswater

RSPB

Juvenile buzzard. Photo: Mark Davison

Haweswater is a dramatic landscape of high fells, rushing rivers, heath, meadow, bog and woodland and home to a host of upland wildlife, including buzzards. They can be seen circling overhead throughout the year. Visit in summer to see the young birds joining the adults in the air to perfect their flying technique. Buzzard numbers have recovered following persecution and they can now be seen widely across Cumbria in a range of habitats.

Where is it?

By car: From Bampton, head south towards Haweswater reservoir. Drive down the unclassified road alongside the Haweswater reservoir, the road ends at a car park.
By bicycle: The reserve is not on any cycle routes.
By public transport: Buses run from Appleby to Dufton twice a day.

More information on Haweswater

Photo: Juvenile buzzard by Mark Davison

7. Humphrey Head

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Peregrine. Photo: Steve Waterhouse

With excellent views over Morecambe Bay, this limestone promontory has an unusual assemblage of plants and interesting geological exposures. This is a good place for watching birds on the estuary, particularly when the tide forces them to the shore. Peregrines regularly breed on the nature reserve and can be recognised for its blue-grey plumage and black moustache that contrasts with its white face.

Where is it?

By car: From Grange-over-Sands head to Allithwaite and just after the village turn left, cross the railway, turn left again. Continue until a public bridleway leads off to the left and park here. Walk up to the field centre to get to the nature reserve
By bicycle: The reserve is 3 miles from National Route 70
By public transport: Buses from Grange to Allithwaite

More about the Humphrey Head Nature Reserve

Photo: Peregrin by Steve Waterhouse

 

8. South Walney Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Hobbie. Photo Amy Lewis

With stunning views across Morecambe bay, this shingle island reserve is full of interest and a fantastic place for bird watching. South Walney is well known for its wading birds and large gull population but birds of prey such as hobbies can be seen hunting here. Hobbies can be identified by their long pointed wings, a little like a giant swift.

Where is it?

By car: From Barrow in Furness follow signs for Walney Island. Cross Jubilee Bridge onto the Island and follow brown signs left at traffic lights, follow this road for about 0.6 miles then turn left down Carr Lane. Continue on this road past Biggar. The reserve is 1km beyond the South End Caravan Site.
By bicycle: The reserve is 3 miles from National Route 72
By public transport: Buses run from Barrow in Furness to Biggar.

More about South Walney Nature Reserve

Photo: Hobby by Amy Lewis

9. Watchtree Nature Reserve

Little owl. Photo Margaret Holland

Watchtree Nature Reserve is a 205 acre haven for wildlife and people. Featuring flower rich meadows, old and new woodland, miles of hedgerow and wetland habitats this a place for everyone. Little owls breed here in man-made nest boxes and can be spotted during the daytime.

Where is it?

By car: Head south from Carlisle on the A595 for approximately 2.5 miles. Look for Watchtree signs at the new Dobbies/Orton Grange roundabout. Follow Watchtree signs until reaching Watchtree Nature Reserve after approximately 4 miles.
By bicycle: The reserve is around 6 miles from Route 72 Hadrian’s Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Wiggonby.

More information about Watchtree Nature Reserve

Photo: Little owl by Margaret Holland

10. Whitbarrow - Hervey Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Sparrowhawk. Photo Steve Waterhouse

With stunning views of the Cumbrian fells and Morecambe Bay, this is a great place to walk and explore. Very thin soils provide ideal growing conditions in spring for hoary rock-roses, primroses, cowslips and early purple orchids. Sparrowhawks can be seen hunting at Whitbarrow and are identified by their dark plumage and bright yellow eyes and legs.

Where is it?

By car: From the A590 take the road for Witherslack. Follow this through the village and then for a further 2km north until you reach Witherslack Hall. Turn right onto the rough track to park. Follow the footpath accross the field and up the scar to the reserve.
By bicycle: The reserve is 2 miles from Regional Route 30.
By public transport: Buses run from Barrow in Furness, Ulverston and Kendal to Witherslack.

More information about Whitbarrow - Hervey Memorial Reserve

Photo: Sparrowhawk by Steve Waterhouse

Download Great Places to See Birds of Prey as a PDF

Great Places to See Birds of Prey

This June, The Wildlife Trusts are asking everyone do something wild every day for a month. The challenge is simple and designed to delight: make room for nature this June - no matter where you are or how busy your life! Make this the month when you do something wild every day – and let us motivate you!

Sign up here for more about 30 Days Wild

Want to get in touch with wildlife? Sign up to recieve other great guides and updates from Cumbria Wildlife Trust:



Downloads

FilenameFile size
great_places_to_see_birds_of_prey_2017.pdf1.14 MB