Did you know that bird feeding is the second most popular hobby aside from gardening in the United States? In the United Kingdom, it doesn’t appear that many people consider it a hobby or even partake in it at all for that matter…

Why should you care though? The economic climate makes it tough enough to feed ourselves at times, let alone putting food in the mouth of creatures that make little to no difference in our life.

Whilst that’s one way to look at it, the flip-side of it is that having a bird feeder in your garden could in fact save hundreds of little-birdie lives every year.  You might be surprised to know that the majority of bird species rely on bird feeders to make up a significant portion of their food supply. Now you’re feeling guilty for not having one aren’t you? All those tiny little birds starving because you were too mean to put out a little bit of grub.

If it makes you feel any better, for many years my family didn’t do it ‘properly’ either; we just chucked leftovers outside or cut-up slices of bread and threw them on the grass. Whilst we thought this was good and beneficial to the birds, in fact, the majority of time we’d spend shooing cats, squirrels or other animals away. The birds it was intended for rarely got a chance to devour any of it…

That’s where bird feeders come into a league of their own, and if I haven’t done a good enough job of explaining why you need one above; let me recap:

  • You’ll potentially be saving a lot of bird’s lives – especially in winter when food sources are much harder to come by.
  • You get more birds frequenting your garden which can make it a much nicer place; especially if you have young kids, as they’re always intrigued by things like this.
  • Keen bird watchers will be able to use this opportunity of birds feeding to get a closer look and really observe what they get up to.
  • If you decide to track numbers and other information, you will in fact collectively be helping out birds by providing statistics to scientists and others in the field that can really make use of the data for conservation purposes.

The downside of this is if you park your car outdoors you may find it becomes a bit more of a ‘target’ for bird droppings. They’re really appreciative like that; you give them a helping hand with food and they return the favour by digesting it and dropping it back on your car – lovely.

We will be back soon to explain the different types of bird feeders you can get and what type of food you should be looking to provide to your garden visitors. As well as this there will be a whole host of tips, explanations and more analysis on why you really should have one.

Wood Warblers in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

This is the largest and brightest of the three common leaf or green warblers. It is distinguished from the Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff by the bright yellow stripe over the eye, dark green stripe running through the eye, its yellow cheeks and throat (more extensive on the male) and gleaming white underparts.

However. it is most easily encountered in its breeding habitat by its characteristic call – a short metallic tick that accelerates into a trill that is reminiscent of a coin spinning and falling to rest. Despite this, it is a difficult species to actually see because of its habit of feeding within trees, where its combination of colours blend with dappled sunlight on leaves. A little patience is worthwhile, as a singing bird is fascinating to watch as it vibrates its whole body as it gives forth its trill.

It is a species that has suffered worrying declines in recent years, for reasons that are not well understood, and all records should be reported. It has the very precise breeding requirements of tall trees with open spaces and dead leaf litter on the ground (see photo from the southern tip of Grizedale Forest). It builds its domed nest amongst the leaf litter and is badly affected if the ground scrubs over. Incubation takes up to a fortnight and the young are feed for a month, so only one brood is raised, making the species vulnerable to poor spring weather.

Cumbria still has quite good numbers of Wood Warblers in its Oak and Beech woods. Although never widespread, it occurs in good numbers in Lakeland valleys when the habitat is most suitable. Strongholds are the mature woodlands around Loweswater, Nether Wasdale, Elterwater, Torver and Grizedale.

In autumn Wood Warblers migrate (like Lesser Whitethroats) via Italy to central and east Africa.

Waxwings in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

There are scattered records of Waxings Bombycilla garrulous in Cumbria in most years, most frequently from town areas, with large numbers seen in irruption winters such as 1995-6 and 2004/5.

In 2004, several flocks of over 1000 had been sighted by early November in eastern Scotland, making it probably the largest irruption for over 50 years. Flocks appeared in Cumbria soon after; around 30 were seen in Ulverston and around 200 in a car park in Kendal on the 14th November.

These unusually colourful, starling-like birds have travelled from Scandinavia and western Siberia to spend the winter here in search of berries. Their favourite food in their homeland is rowan; if warm conditions exist when rowans flower, it produces a heavy crop and the survival rate of waxwings increases through the following winter, so the waxwing population is high in the next breeding season. Since a poor berry crop usually follows a heavy one, there are then far more waxwings searching for fewer berries and they are forced to move south and west.

The Waxwing is an elegant bird, a well-dressed, but not too gaudy, Georgian gentleman, as the image alongside demonstrates. His sleek and sheeny plumage has softly blended shades of grey, brown, and russet and is neatly trimmed with white, yellow, black and a touch of red. The whole is topped off with a delightful, silky, reddish-brown crest that flutters in the breeze. The amazing red tips of the secondary wing feathers, looking like blobs of sealing wax, give the bird its name. Their purpose is something of a mystery. I am indebted to Martin Ridley (see www.wildlife-art-paintings.co.uk) for providing the photograph from which the image was taken.

It is sometimes said that Waxwings “feed like a parrot and fly like a Starling”. I watched a flock of 30 settle into the upper branches of a tall tree near my home. Several birds would shuttle down to the source of berries in a nearby garden and when they returned another group followed, and so on. This typical behaviour is quite different to the chaotic competition so common in other bird species. Whilst waiting their turn, the birds in the tree adopted many different postures, often with wing tips held away from the body. The odd one even flew up to take an insect, flycatcher style, which is characteristic of their summer feeding routine. When taking berries they were surprisingly acrobatic, hanging like a tit, stretching with elongated body to reach out of the way berries or dropping their head below the body with tail spread for balance like a small parrot. The flock keeps in contact with a constant garrulous chatter – a distinctive but subdued bell-like trill.

Waxwings have a voracious appetite, sometimes eating until they can no longer move, and it takes just a few hours for a small flock to strip several bushes. Increasingly, Waxwings are being spotted in supermarket car parks, as many of these are landscaped with berry bearing shrubs, such as cotoneaster, pyrancantha and rose. Sometimes they stay to devour all the berries or they may leave quite suddenly and unpredictably. When the flock moves on, the flight is undulating with frequent changes of direction (with all the birds in unison, like a flock of starlings).

The Waxwings’ social behaviour makes them relatively tame birds and they can be easily approached until you are standing beneath the tree in which they are resting.

Tree Sparrows in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

TREE SPARROWS IN CUMBRIA

Once common around arable farms, where it could get winter food from spilled grain and stubble fields, the Tree Sparrow is now something of a rarity that few people see in the county. Changing methods in farming, combined with notorious natural fluctuations, have caused a 95% fall in numbers nationally since 1970.

In Cumbria there are now only a small number of resident populations. For example, in South Cumbria there is a small breeding population in the Gleaston/Dendron area, another on the Cartmel Peninsula and one or two round Kendal. It is perhaps a little more numerous on the Solway Plain and in the Eden Valley.

Unlike its cousin, the larger and more urban House Sparrow, both sexes have similar plumage. They look a little more “dapper” than the House Sparrow. The all brown head contrasts well with the white cheek patch that extends all round the nape – the distinctive black smudge on the white cheek make this species instantly recognisable…if you can find the species in the first place. The male House Sparrow (on the right) has a less strikingly white cheek patch, no black blotch and the head is a lighter brown with a grey crown of course.

Although the name correctly suggests a tree nesting species, the Tree Sparrow will also use holes in buildings and nest-boxes. Several pairs nest in the old walls of Gleaston Water Mill (and a few more in the old Castle nearby). There has probably been a mill here since the mid-1300’s and one is tempted to imagine dozens of these birds feeding on the spilled grain that has been brought along rutted lanes by cart. The present mill is Georgian, built from local limestone, sandstone and slate, and has been lovingly restored by the present owners. In May you can sit in the sun with a cup of coffee from the cafe and watch as the Tree Sparrows take insects and caterpillars into their tiny nesting holes. This is a working water mill that is well worth a visit, even if you have seen Tree Sparrows elsewhere! Nesting in the same wall is a pair of Kestrels, which can be watched by remote camera, as can a hive of honey bees.

In 2008 the RSPB set up the Cumbria Tree Sparrow project, an extension of one currently operating in Lancashire and Cheshire. The aim is to increase the number and range of Tree Sparrows by providing nest boxes and advice to landowners.

Tree Pipits in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

Do you have difficulty distinguishing this summer visitor from its resident cousin the Meadow Pipit? Then forget the guide book descriptions of stockier build, bolder breast markings narrowing to fine streaks on the flank, and lighter legs, as these are so hard to see in the field. Instead concentrate on habitat and spring song and behaviour. Once you’ve sussed these out it’s hard to miss a Tree Pipit at 50 metres, although still difficult to photograph one (one day I’ll get closer)!

The obvious habitat is recently felled or planted areas where a few tall trees remain. Look also on heathland or mosses with scattered trees, or woodland glades, especially with scattered birch. There must be plenty of open areas for the dispaly flight and some low ground cover as this is where they will nest.

A bird singing from a tree has a song that is hard to forget once heard a few times – rather Canary-like with a bit of a stutter and ending usually with a couple of strong double notes that carry over a distance. Males sing strongly on arrival in late April, diminish a little during nest building and laying but sing again afterwards, usually away from the nest.

What marks out the Tree Pipit once and for all is its delightful song during its “parachute” flight during May. A singing bird will suddenly rise into the sky then glide down on open wings to an adjacent tree or even the ground. It’s one of my favourite sights of the spring. However, just to make life difficult, Meadow Pipits parachute as well, but their song in flight is much less interesting and distinctive.

After raising young in June and early July, the adults moult before leaving in September for tropical Africa.

Nationally this is a species that has suffered serious declines in numbers, and in 2009 was moved from the “amber” list to the “red list” of species of high conservation concern. In Cumbria numbers seem to have fallen sharply, but it is still a good county in which to find them. It is in fact a species that should benefit from the Forestry Commissions current programme to fell large areas of mature conifer forests and replant with native Oak and Birch. It was widely distributed and common over the central Lake District, but much scarcer on the outskirts of the county. But one site I visit near Bigland, on the Cartmel Peninsular, holds good numbers.

Numbers have diminished so much in recent years that observers are asked to submit all records of this red listed species.

Terns in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

Four species of tern nest around Cumbria’s coast although there has been a general decline in numbers over recent years. All are notoriously fickle in the use of nesting sites; disturbance or predation can cause the whole colony to abandon a site in the next season.

Most people’s favourite has to be the diminutive Little Tern (see above). Its small size, black tipped yellow bill and white forehead make it very distinctive and appealing. Their flight is fast and jerky and when looking for food they hover with head held low before plunging. This is a very attractive species to watch, especially at the RSPB Hodbarrow Reserve at Millom, where a hide provides perfect viewing. Although the species used to nest all around the Cumbrian coast there are now only a handful of colonies, of which Hodbarrow and Foulney are the largest. Even here, despite wardening and protective fencing to keep out Red Foxes, productivity is unfortunately low. In an average year probably no more than 50 pairs now nest around our coast.

The most numerous Tern species around Cumbria’s coast is the large Sandwich Tern. However it is now restricted to just the one site at Hodbarrow, having previously abandoned nesting at Ravenglass, Walney and Foulney. A raucous but handsome bird, it is recognised by its yellow tipped black bill.

Arctic and Common Terns are hard to separate in flight, although a little easier on the ground. In Cumbria they conveniently help us to get experience in recognition by nesting at separate sites! Arctic Terns currently only use Foulney Island; up to 30 pairs nest on the spit each year, watched over by a dedicated warden. Common Terns are found at Hodbarrow and Rockcliffe Marsh, but total numbers are probably less than for the Arctic. Although not infallible, the bill colour provides the best distinguishing feature – Common Terns have a black tipped red bill (see photo below), while Arctic Terns have no black tip and the bill is often a deeper, more crimson, red.

As Hodbarrow holds three of the four Tern species found in the County it is an important site and well worth a visit in late May and June to see them. The fenced area in front of the hide holds a truly cosmopolitan community of nesting birds. As well as the Terns, there might be Grebes, Ringed Plover, several species of Gull, Geese, and Tufted Duck amongst others:-

Swallows in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

SWALLOWS, HOUSE MARTINS & SAND MARTINS IN CUMBRIA

We used to call them “Swallows” but, as there are a dozen or so swallow species in their African wintering grounds, the “politically correct” name for our species is now “Barn Swallow”. As the names imply, our Barn Swallows are more rural than House Martins, preferring to nest on a ledge in an outbuilding or barn with more open cattle pastures around for feeding.

In an interesting piece of evolutionary adaptation some Swallows have established a colony of 10 – 15 nests underneath the bridge that carries the A590 Dalton Bypass over Thwaite Flat……perhaps they should be called Box-girder Swallows not Barn Swallows!!! The box-girders of the bridge afford ample ledges and shelter. However, every time a vehicle hurtles across the bridge there is a loud thud as it passes over the expansion plates. Neither the noise nor the vibration seems to deter the birds, although lesser mortals like us would get a thumping headache and their homes would probably collapse if they lived with this twentyfour-seven.

In fact the birds arrive back in late April/early May after spending the winter on the southern tip of Africa with 300 million or so other Barn Swallows from all over Europe. Even with the traffic, Thwaite Flat must seem like a peaceful haven compared to the noise experienced at a night-time roost there!

In another piece of adaptation to man made structures, Swallows characteristically rest on telegraph and electricity wires, which provide an unimpeded access that suits their swooping flight. Even the young seem to have this habit built in, as they often line up on wires after fledging, waiting to be fed (see photo below):

These are tough little beasts anyway. At five months old they begin an incredible 12000 mile round trip that sees them travel across the English Channel, the Pyrenees, the Sahara Desert, Equatorial Africa and down the east coast of South Africa …then back again two months later. Each night a roost site has to be found and an incredible variety of predators and weather conditions must be overcome. During the four days it can take to cross the Sahara an ascent to 3 miles may be needed in order to spot the next oasis fifty miles away. Fewer than 20% of first year birds make it back again but, of those that do, many find their way back to the same nest site each year (for up to ten years).

The House Martin is also a species that has readily adapted to man-made structures although there are a few places in the county where they still build nests in their ancestral habitat of cliffs and crags. More usually they build their mud homes under the eaves of buildings, with favourable sites acquiring a growing number of nests as the years progress. Very dry weather in Spring can cause serious problems as they must collect an enormous amount of mud of the right consistency. This is the only time when House Martins can be observed close up and relatively still -they are so intent on the job in hand (or beak) that they are relatively approachable. Now their gorgeous plumage can be seen in detail – note the tell-tale white rump seen in flight but also the uniquely white-feathered legs (please get in touch with me if you know of any theory for the evolutionary benefit of this adaptation!). It is also possible to distinguish male and female at this time, as males have slightly longer tail feathers.


While Swallows and House Martins are widespread in the county, the Sand Martin is much more localised and has suffered quite serious declines in the county in recent years. It requires suitable soft banks near water for it’s nest tunnel and is largely confined to the Eden valley (where the river banks are very suitable), with small numbers on cliffs north of Ravenglass and on a few sand cliffs in Furness. It will readily take to artificial nest tunnels, such as drainage pipes laid in concrete walls as on the River Kent. It is an opportunist species, adapting as the environment changes and numbers can fluctaute markedly from one year to the next – this site (left) has held good numbers in some years but only one or two pairs in others. Equally I have seen single pairs nesting in a sand dune blow out and on a small bank on an airfield!

The nature of their nests mean that they can be susceptible to predators like Stoats, Weasels and Hedgehogs.

Siskin in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

This colourful small finch passes through my Ulverston garden each year in early spring. They are usually seen for about a week sometime in March or the first days of April. When we first started seeing them many years ago they were attracted to peanuts in red mesh hangers. Now that we put out Niger seed, usually for the Goldfinches, the Siskin ignore the peanuts and go straight for the Niger. On the day I took this photo we had two on the Niger feeder while four others were content to “hoover” up the seed that had fallen on the ground beneath. Siskin are not noted for ground feeding so the Niger seed must be very attractive.

Readily recognised by the yellow wing bar on black wings this finch surprises you by its size, being little larger than a Blue Tit. Males are more brightly coloured with a characteristic black cap, while females are the paler and more heavily streaked of the two.

They were relatively scarce in Cumbria until the middle of the 20th century but, as elsewhere in the country, numbers increased dramatically once conifer plantations planted after the First World War started to mature. As natural seed sources became exhausted in spring they were tempted into gardens by the fashion of planting conifers as evergreens and discovered bird feeders in the process!

The main breeding strongholds are in the Grizedale, Whinlatter and Border forests. In winter they roam in flocks of up to 100 seeking out Pine and Spruce but moving out of the conifer forest once the supply of seed is depleted, when Alder and Birch are sought. There is a movement of British birds southwards in winter with birds from Scandinavia joining them. It is these birds that pass through gardens when returning north in March. Pairing occurs in the winter flocks and, once back in the breeding area, a nest is built high in a conifer hanging from an outer branch.


A small group twittering and piping as they breeze through riverside Alders, perhaps with a Redpoll or two, is a sight to be remembered. The bright yellow rump of the male is very striking.

Although there is still plenty of maturing conifer forest in the county the current plan is to replace it with native broad-leaved species as the timber is harvested. This may, in time, reduce the numbers of breeding Siskin.

The similar sized Lesser Redpoll also has a black bib but there the similarity ends. Small flocks of 10 to 30 are seen in the county during the winter. Although an irruptive species it does seem to have undergone a steep decline in numbers and it is now scarcer as a breeding bird than the Siskin. It’s preference for new growth in recently felled areas has hindered its progress and it has disappeared from many areas where it was once found – for example in the Furness peninsula. This is an attractive finch, especially a male with its scarlet cap and flushed chest …but they are not all as bright as the one in the photo! Females have no pink on the breast and juveniles have no coloured cap.

If you were playing bird bingo then the image below might represent “house full” – it also gives a comparison of size for three of our colourful finches, the Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch!

Robins in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

ROBIN PLUMAGE & ROBIN FEEDING

Our garden seems to have been at the junction of three robin territories in recent years, which has provided the opportunity to get some close up photos of one brood of two juvenile robins as their plumage changed in the weeks after fledging. The sequence below taken in 2005 shows the gradual development of feathers to give the familiar robin plumage.

During this time, our particular favourite made several visits each day to collect a beakful of worms to take back to another brood. Four different individuals were taking mealworms from the hand at this stage, but the one feeding young always made sure it got priority! It would land on the conservatory window and tick, but if we took no notice she flew to the back door and landed on the door handle – so she became known to us as Dora! As soon as the young fledged, she disappeared (at the beginning of August) for a week, causing us some concern. When she reappeared for a couple of weeks she was obviously undergoing the summer moult and was without tail, but happily posed for a photo (see below). We didn’t see her again until, four months later during a spell of freezing weather, the same bird suddenly appeared at the back door (now looking very smart) and, without hesitation, began taking food from the hand and living up to her name by sitting on the door handle to gain our attention – clearly a bird with a good memory!

In June 2006 the same situation occurred with three birds feeding young from neighbouring territories. There was a definite pecking order, with the older bird dominant. The second in line would wait patiently and dash in as soon as the first flew off, otherwise it would be attacked. To make sure it got it’s fill it would quickly grab four or five mealworms, jumping into the dish if it wasn’t getting them fast enough by hand. The third, rather timid bird, would only take mealworms from a hand held on the wall, it wasn’t confident enough (or desperate enough) to fly straight on the hand.

Feeding robins in this way is very rewarding but we were always careful to limit quantities to treats so they had plenty of time to forage themselves. First thing in the morning (6 or 7 a.m. in summer!) was a popular time and we felt it gave them a start to the day before it warmed up. A moment of exhilaration came on July 12th when Dora and partner brought two recently fledged chicks to be fed at the back door.

As usual the Robins dispersed in October 2006 and we didn’t see our favourite bird again until February 6th 2007 when it buzzed me in the garden and flew to its perch on the fence by the back door. It promptly dropped straight onto my hand when I produced some mixed food, where it stayed for some time picking out all the pin oats! Quite a feat of memory.

June. “I’ll do anything to
feed my chicks”
August. “I just can’t find anything decent
to wear these days”
September. “Is my breakfast
ready yet?”
February: “It’s a bit parky today – any
mealworms going?”
February. “Come on, be quick,
it’s raining”
March. “Thank goodness you’ve still
got some left”
July. “Dare I?”
July. “Yes, it was worth it !”
Late July. “This moulting business is hard work”
August. “Please………”
June: “Can I squeeze another one in…?”

Reed Warblers in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

One of the delights of late April and early May is the return of the song of warblers as they arrive from Africa. Some like the Willow Warbler seem to be everywhere and may number in excess of a quarter of a million pairs in the county, others like Lesser Whitethroat and Reed and Grasshopper Warbler take some finding with only two or three hundred pairs likely to be present.

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler

The scarcest in Cumbria, and one of the last to arrive, is the Reed Warbler. It is very much at its northern limit here but its numbers are mainly limited by the availability of suitable habitat – phragmites reed beds are not common and they tend to dry out and disappear over time.

Numbers have increased significantly over the last 30 years since the first colonisation of Siddick Pond on the west coast. Now it can be seen regularly at many lakeside margins where small areas of reed occur – for example at Bassenthwaite, Rydal, Grasmere, Cavendish Dock (Barrow), and Urswick tarn.

Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

More likely to be heard than seen, the species announces its presence with its rhythmic song, more even and less raucous than that of the Sedge Warbler (which also occupies other habitats as well as reeds). While the latter often sings from the top of a bush in full view giving good views of its eyestripe and orange mouth (see right), male Reed Warblers tend to sing from the bottom of the reeds, only climbing to the top in calm bright weather to provide an opportunity to see them and snatch a photo.

If seen, the Reed Warbler is fairly non-descript in appearance, looking very much as you would expect a brown and white warbler to look. Males and females look similar. It can share the same habitat with Reed Buntings, although probably only one pair of the latter occupy the same area of reeds as six or more pairs of Reed Warblers. The female Reed Bunting has similar colouring but has a more stripey appearance and distinctive white moustache.

The Reed Warbler is one of the last migrants to arrive, usually in early May in Cumbria. The nest, attached at the base of some reeds, is a very deep cup, designed to keep the eggs safe when the reeds sway in windy weather. Where they occur, densities can be very high, with each male holding a territory of only a few square metres. Nearby Willow trees often provide a good supply of caterpillars for the young, which can be seen in June.

Reed Warblers return to Africa in a sereis of short hops which increase in length until the last large hop over the Sahara! In complete contrast the Sedge Warbler somehow builds up enough fat reserves to make the trip in one non-stop flight lasting a couple of days!

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

In contrast the Willow Warbler is the most abundant warbler by far, being found in almost every tetrad in the county except those on fells above about 300 metres. They are not fussy breeders and use almost any habitat that provides cover for the nest. As their characteristic song is often uttered from exposed branches they are also the easiest warbler to see.

The Common Chiffchaff is almost identical in appearance to the Willow Warbler but has a totally different song and is more choosey about its habitat, being absent from the hilly parts of the county. Some members of this species overwinter in Britain, but those that do migrate are reknowned for the ability to arrive back in the same tree from whence they left! With the Willow Warbler, it is usually one of the first migrants to arrive back, and I am disappointed if I don’t hear “chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff” at the end of the road before the end of March.

Next in abundance in the county is probably the Whitethroat. Numbers seem to have recovered well now, although periodic droughts in the winter quarters of West Africa take their toll. Any bit of scrub around the coastal plains of the county will probably hold several pairs of this species, which are usually easy to see once their presence is announced by the scratchy song.

Blackcap and Garden Warbler share very similar distributions and numbers in the county and, annoyingly, very similar songs. They can both be hard to spot, especially once the leaves are fully out as they tend to sing from less exposed branches, but if seen are quite distinctive of course.

The Wood Warbler is my favourite of the bunch and seems to be suffering something of a serious decline and is now quite hard to find – it therefore earns its OWN PAGE on the website!

Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler

Finally, the two that are almost as scarce as the Reed Warbler in the county are the Grasshopper Warbler and the Lesser Whitethroat. Both have similar distributions around the lowland coastal regions of the county but are never very common (a few hundred pairs at max.). Grasshopper Warbler is usually picked up by sounding like a very big grasshopper or the unwinding reel of a fishing line! However they are frustratingly difficult to pinpoint as a singing male turns its head from side to side to maximise its effectiveness (see photo). They prefer long matted vegetation, like marram grass. Good sites include Walney, Allonby/Maryport and Geltsdale. Lesser Whitethroat has quite different habitat requirements to Whitehroat, preferring hedgerow trees and bushes with patches of dense undergrowth nearby for nesting. This dapper bird lacks the rusty brown wings of its cousin and is usually first picked up by its rattling call. Askam/Hodbarrow on either side of the Duddon and North Plain Farm/Campfield Marsh on the Solway seem to be the current strongholds.