Saturday, 14 April 2012

Rockin' Robin

Moody Morecambe Bay
You don't always need to go far to learn stuff.  Today we spent the day within 1/2 mile of home enjoying a fabulous event at the Brown Robin Nature Reserve - thanks to a Cumbria Wildlife Trust event.  (It's on tomorrow too if you're interested.).

Since we've moved up here we've made a conscious effort to learn more about wildlife and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  Specifically we've been trying to learn more about birds, but we can never see the darned things so many have them acquired names based on how their call sounds to us, hence the christening of the 'doink doink' bird - top marks to anyone who can figure out which bird that is before the end of the blog.

The Brown Robin Nature reserve sits on a hill behind the Netherwood Hotel and stretches back a mile or so inland.  It's made up of woodland and lovely open fields with some fabulous examples of limestone pavements.  Today we were promised stalls, walks and exhibitions so we decided to pop in for an hour or so.  Five hours later we headed home.

Charcoal Burner
We started off chatting to the volunteers and learning more about the general wildlife of the area and the many other wonderful nature reserves the Wildlife Trust looks after.  We made some tentative identifications of our mysterious birds before heading off into the woods.  Around halfway to the summit we came upon a scene directly out of Swallows and Amazons - a collection of tents buried deep in the woods with a group of people making charcoal and carved wooden artifacts.  We sheltered from one of the many hailstorms of the day and chatted to them learning more about their craft.  Apparently they live there for a large portion of the year making charcoal the old fashioned and sustainable way to be sold locally.  I honestly never knew they were there or that there was non-commercial charcoal available, but good to learn and I shall be shopping locally for it from now on.

Moving onwards we wandered up through the woods to the summit of the reserve before spotting a perfect place for lunch on our path back down.  Whilst enjoying a fine sarnie in the afternoon sun we managed to record our mysterious 'doink doink' bird and spot a Greater Spotted Woodpecker lurking in a nearby tree.  On our journey down I managed to hurl myself off some limestone steps but I bounced well and am hopeful of another fine crop of bruises.  Finally returning to the main display area we pinned down a guy from the RSPB and played him our bird song.  Turns out the 'doink doink' bird is, in fact, a Nuthatch (check here for it's distinctive call).  So now we know.  Only several hundred others to go...

Limestone Pavement
Scampering off we tagged onto a guided Geological walk to learn more about the origins of the limestone scenery and glacial history of the area.  As my degree is in geology none of this was particularly new to me, but the tour guide made things very interesting and informative and had us exploring local walls and ruins to find fossils.  He also included a healthy dose of local history and was very knowledgeable about the whole area.

Returning to the main area around 4:15pm we finally decided it was time to head home.  If you're in the area tomorrow (Sun 15th April) I would definitely recommend a visit.  You can park at the Netherwood Hotel and the whole thing is free.  I would say send me a tweet and we'll meet up - but we have our sights set on Coniston Water tomorrow - maybe we'll record some more birdsong there for the experts to help us with.