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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Smardale Gill Cumbria

Last Saturday I joined the ranks of the Newcastle RSPB group for a trip to Smardale Gill near Kirby Stephen not only had I not been there I had never heard of it and initially thought we where going to Yorkshire ?, well a quick look ont net soon put me right . Stopping at Kirby Stephen for the loos Brian the Killy Birder blogger pointed out a Scarlet Macaw sitting on an Ariel and a further two nearby , I was astounded to hear they where free flying and breeding , what a surprise start to the day, shortly after we arrived at the entrance to Smardale Gill the walk is mainly along an old rail track which is fairly level and the cuttings covered in wild flowers and grasses , with Ringlets and Meadow Browns evident .
The usual evidence or railway life with the remnants of a signal box , Quarry , Lime Kilns and an absolutely fabulous viaduct and some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, not sure how many there where of us but everyone was enthusiastic  debating over the I.D. of flowers and passing Butterflies .Near the Quarry we encountered the first Northern Brown Argus and immediately wished I had brought my DSLR as there was no way I was going to get photos with my compact , plenty of Common Blues also here and nearby I noticed a Chimney Sweeper  Moth. Walking just over the viaduct and then turning back to a path down to the side we headed back to the start this is a bit steeper walk but it does give great views back onto the viaduct, and leads you over an  old pack horse bridge , looking down into the water we saw hundreds of small Brown Trout.
The walk was 6 1/2 miles long it's well worth a visit perhaps to coincide with the emergence of the Scotch Argus , or other Orchids like Bird's Nest & Fragrant, very good day out !! 
 Scarlet Macaws not the best shot as taken with my compact through the bins but it does capture a Swift passing by.
 Image these coming down to your bird table it would have to be well made and that bag of Peanuts perhaps replaced with a sack of Brazils !
 The Cumbrian countryside of  grass fields and stone walls
 Melancholy Thistle which was common, Hoverflies just love it

 Common Blue this only Butterfly I could get near.
 Birds Eye Primrose new for me
Jacobs Ladder perhaps a garden escape as there was an old house here

 First glimpse of the Viaduct through he trees , the track just to the left showing a gradient down slightly
 Not sure what this is ,it's very small and I haven't taken the best photo
 Huge Lime stone Kilns near the track base presumably to take the Lime away
 View from over the Viaduct to the stream below ,surprisingly no Dippers or Grey Wagtails to be seen
 Someone with a keen eye spotted this  Frog
 I saw a couple of people looking intently in the undergrowth , so I asked what they had Greater Butterfly Orchid was the consensus, when I got back on the track the group was now way ahead of of me
 Further views from the Viaduct

 Now we are heading down the track and following the stream , a very large nest of a Crow (3rd from right) which I pondered could be a Raven it had obviously been added to for years with some large sticks ?
 Everywhere you looked was a photo

 Lime Kilns just visible and the track of the railway
 Viaduct visible up the valley, a pair of Common Redstart  here and Tree pipit nearby one of  2 singing birds , also a very close Garden Warbler heard but not seen along the track
Last look as we head back up the hill to rejoin the path and head back to the start


Killy Birder said...

Good to see you along Brian. I'm afraid I missed the Greater Butterfly Orchid which would have been a new one for me, as was the Jacobs Ladder. I think your unidentified plant may be Wild Thyme. Cheers.

Northumbrian Birding said...

Cheers Brian as I said a good day out in good company what more could you want ,even a good kip on the way back !!!

Cumbria Wildlife Trust said...

Great photographs. I'm glad you enjoyed your day at our nature reserve.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust