There is always interesting wildlife to watch in Little Langdale.
We caught up with David Harpley, conversation manager with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, to ask what we should be looking out for near the Three Shires Inn at the moment.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust does so much great work to help look after the county’s environment. To help them out you can make a donation here.
So, over to David. What should we be looking out for?
“At this time of year, we’ll start to see the late summer flowers coming into bloom. So at the moment there is heather and cross-leaved heath and harebells and devil’s bit scabious. These are the last flowers of the summer, by the time you are seeing these summer is coming to an end.
“The berries will all be ripening on the trees, such as rowan berries, which is another sign of autumn coming. One thing to look out for are ring ouzels that nest on the crags in the Lakes. They will often stop and eat rowan berries on their way down to Africa. They look a bit like a blackbird, the male is black and the female is brown, and they have a ring around their neck and a white breast band.
“There are a lot of dragonflies around in the late summer. There are golden ringed dragonflies; that is a big black and gold dragonfly that lives in upland streams. There is also a little thing called a black darter - a tiny dragonfly - that appears fairly late and sometimes in massive numbers. You can get great clouds of it, particularly around boggy places.
“All the small birds that have nested in the Lakes and have had their young over the summer will all be starting to head south now. So wheatears, the whinchats and the pied fly catchers will all be starting to head south now.
“For some of them the journey is incredible. How long it takes them varies hugely. Some species are what you call direct migrants, where they just head off and that’s it, they don’t really stop. Others will stop and feed repeatedly. We have osprey on sites we manage and they have an incredibly leisurely migration. They will fly, stop and catch some fish, roost overnight and then do it again. Other species build up enormous amounts of fat and then whir their wings as hard as they can to get over in one jump.
“Some will go as far as southern Africa and others will go into west Africa. Some will stop around the Mediterranean. One of the climate change effects people have noticed is that the black cap, which is a little warbler, is gradually truncating its migration so we get wintering birds from continental Europe we didn’t use to get and our birds don’t go as far south as they used to.
“This year is a vole year. Voles have this up and down population fluctuation so if people are out now there are voles and you can see them running around. There are also a lot of otters around here and you can see them in all sorts of locations, not only in quiet rivers and streams but also in towns. They sometimes breed under the steamer pier at Ambleside.
“There are red deer herds in the Lakes and they will start rutting soon. That tends to start in October, but the stags will start moving now. It’s also worth looking out in woods for red squirrels as well, particularly in conifer woods.”