See a different side of Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve

By FMB on 

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Caption: Secret Side of Foulshaw Experience - photo by Steve Finch
Caption: Foulshaw Moss - photo by Les Fitton

Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve is a very special area of peatland near Witherslack, in South Lakeland. Managed and owned by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the nature reserve is renowned for the pair of ospreys that return here from west Africa every summer to breed. But there's a lot more to see here than these majestic birds of prey.

This peaceful nature reserve offers something special for all wildlife enthusiasts. While the landscape is challenging, there are a series of boardwalks around the nature reserve, making visiting easy-going. A walk in winter my reward you with sightings of wildfowl and wading birds, searching for food on the areas of open water.. You might spot otters carving a line through the water, or glimpse red deer running through the woods. Keep an eye out for marsh harriers swooping low to hunt for prey.

Summer is the time to see an abundance of breeding birds, many of which have migrated thousands of miles to breed in our more temperate climate. Dragonflies will be zipping through the warm air, and you might spot a hobby (a small falcon) hunting them over the reedbeds. Deer and otters may also make an appearance. Keep your eyes on the sky in summer to see the ospreys pass over on their way to the Kent estuary. The young birds are often seen practising their fishing technique before making their migration later in the year.

This wonderful array of wildlife can be seen thanks to an ambitious, 15-year restoration programme by Cumbria Wildlife Trust. The nature reserve is a precious peat bog, which has formed over thousands of years. Sadly, draining and tree planting in the 1950s and 60s meant much of the wetland wildlife was lost. After years of clearing trees and rewetting the bog, the peatland is now full of mossy hummocks and pools and water-loving plants are now found in abundance, such as Sphagnum moss, carnivorous sundews, cranberry and bog-rosemary. In summer, you'll see masses of the soft white heads of cotton grass. The restored peatlands provide the perfect habitat for the amazing wildlife we find there today.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust are now offering visitors a unique experience at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, with a new series of organised walks that take people into an area not normally open to the general public. It's ideal for those who love this special nature reserve and want to see something new, as well as those who haven't visited before and would like exclusive access with a knowledgeable guide.

Called The Secret Side of Foulshaw Moss, you’ll start with a brisk stroll through the privately owned Ulpha Wood, following the trail the very southern edge of the Moss, with views towards the imposing Whitbarrow Scar. Continuing on to a private hide overlooking this amazing wetland habitat, you’ll stop for a sweet brunch (think scones and croissants) and a hot or cold drink to fuel you for plenty of wildlife spotting. When you're feeling refreshed, scopes and binoculars will be handed out (feel free to bring your own!) and settle in to watch for some superb wildlife, in the hands of an expert. The experience lasts around 2.5 hours – it may vary slightly depending on which wildlife you see and when.

For more details and to book go to https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2022-02-12-secret-side-foulshaw-moss

It will soon be spring and the Foulshaw Moss ospreys will be here again. Add this link to your favourites so you can keep up to date! https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife/cams/osprey-cam

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