Discover Hutton Roof Crags

Discover Hutton Roof Crags

Hutton Roof Crags © Andrew Walter

In his 2019 round up, volunteer Bryan Yorke shares some amazing wildlife highlights from Hutton Roof Crags. This special nature reserve is a great place to visit in winter as it provides a temporary haven for migrating birds.

2019 has been another great year for wildlife on Hutton Roof with plenty of bird activity and special time for our rarest Orchids, wildflowers and ferns.

Recently most of my time has been taken up doing my annual vismig (visible bird migration), of counts of birds passing over Hutton Roof (Lancelot Clark Storth) and other nearby locations whilst mainly on their way South to their wintering grounds. This year in particular we have had really high numbers of both Chaffinch and Linnets.  I will have had several thousand finches alone pass through. It’s also been a good year for birds coming into the country, especially thrushes like Redwing and Fieldfare who like to spend their winter with us and take advantage of the many berries which we have to offer, especially this year with the bumper crop.


Linnet © Craig Bell

It’s been another year without a visit from the Great Grey Shrike, yet still lots going on with our breeding Green Woodpeckers, our Cuckoo’s and our summer visitors, which included the Redstarts, both Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats and Blackcaps and the Garden Warblers which seem to do well here. Like other areas we are just about holding on to our Spotted Flycatchers with up to three pairs recorded within the area.   


Cockoo © Craig Bell

Turning away now from birds and moving on to Orchids, our reserve on Burton Fell has again produced some stunning spectacles especially with the Fly Orchids and even more so with the beautiful Dark Red Helleborines which are now considered a national rarity and treasure, not only that we are so pleased to be holding some of our Countries rarest hybrids and varietal forms, which for me is such a great pleasure and passion to be able to photograph and record them year on year whilst noting any changes.


Helleborines © Bryan Yorke

Hutton Roof with its extended areas has also again proved to be good for the rare High Brown Fritillary, and other butterflies like its cousin the Dark Green Fritillary. I have noticed in particular this year has been such a bumper for the likes of our limestone species The Grayling and what about the multitude of Painted Ladies which have been seen throughout the reserve.  Not forgetting our smaller specimens like the Northern Brown Argus or the Green Hairstreaks and the Blues…   

It was great last summer to be able to confirm several hundred plants of the rare Field Gentian, although after saying that the more common Autumn Gentian hardly put an appearance in compared to past years, I can only presume it is having a well-earned rest.  Mountain Everlasting always excites me and I was not let down this year.  Looking forward so much to recording again in 2020.

Bryan Yorke - Cumbria Wildlife Trust Volunteer



Discover more about Hutton Roof Crags Nature Reserve in Your January edition of our membership magazine (Cumbria Wildlife). Not a member? Join us from just £3.25 a month and start receiving your copy of Cumbria Wildlife.