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New warden at South Walney to restore habitats across Furness

Friday 18th December 2015

Sarah DalrympleSarah Dalrymple

Sarah Dalrymple is settling into her stunning new home as the new warden for Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s South Walney Nature Reserve, located at the southern tip of Walney Island, just off Barrow-in-Furness.

The warden post is thanks to funding from the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund which was secured by Morecambe Bay Partnership and Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and includes a raft of habitat improvement works at nature reserves in the Furness area.

Sarah, who lives onsite in the warden’s cottage, is responsible for caring for the wildlife habitats, supporting the many excellent existing volunteers and ensuring visitors to the nature reserve get the most out of their visit.

Sarah says:

“I’m over the moon to be living and working in such a stunning part of the world, and looking forward to continuing my predecessor’s excellent work. In my first two weeks here we’ve already had the island’s first ever seal pups, so I cannot wait to see what the next few years will bring us!”

Previously Sarah has worked on several islands and nature reserves, including Skokholm Island in Pembrokeshire, Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, and, most recently, helped conduct a seabird survey on the remote Saint Kilda Isles, 80 miles off coast of west Scotland.

As well as managing South Walney Nature Reserve the new warden will be working on habitat improvements at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Foulney Island Nature Reserve and Natural England’s North Walney National Nature Reserve. At South Walney this will fund scrape creation for birds, habitat restoration to create flower-rich dune grassland and the development of new infrastructure to manage grazing. Works will also allow for a better visitor experience near the nature reserve’s entrance. On Foulney Island, it is hoped that breeding areas can be extended for terns and other birds away from the ravages of the tide.

About South Walney Nature Reserve

With stunning views across Morecambe bay, this shingle island reserve is full of interest and a fantastic place for bird watching. South Walney Nature Reserve is home to the only grey seal colony in Cumbria.

Each spring, large numbers of lesser black backed and herring gulls return to begin to set up nest territories. You can also see breeding eider duck, greater black backed gull, shelduck, oystercatcher, mallard, moorhen and coot. Many of the 250 bird species recorded however are passage migrants on their way to or from breeding grounds. These include common species such as wheatear, redstart, willow warbler and gold crest, as well as more unusual species, which may have been blown off their normal migration route. In winter you can see large numbers of waders and wildfowl feeding and roosting around the nature reserve both on the gravel pools and the intertidal areas.

Vegetated shingle is an unusual habitat - look out for yellow horned poppy, sea campion and biting stonecrop. In the small areas of surviving dune grassland survive look out for pyramidal orchid, Portland spurge, restharrow and wild pansy. The old gravel workings have developed their own communities with striking plants such as viper's bugloss, henbane and alkanet. In the saltmarsh in Lighthouse Bay you can find specialists such as as thrift, glasswort and sea purslane.

South Walney forms the southern tip of a shingle island lying at the end of the Furness Peninsula. During the medieval period it was farmed by the monks of Furness Abbey, whilst during the 19th and 20th centuries salt, sand and gravel were extracted leaving large lagoons and some industrial remains.

For information on how to get to South Walney Nature Reserve visit

Tagged with: Living Landscapes