Bird watching on the Solway

As part of the Solway AONB, this part of Cumbria has been protected for over 50 years, maintaining a sense of rare and true wilderness. There are several official sites where you can watch wildfowl and other birds, taking advantage of purpose built bird hides and duckboards for crossing otherwise inaccessible wetlands.

Desolate is a word often used in a negative way to conjure up a bleak and uninviting place. When it comes to the Solway however, desolate is key in describing the great swathe of wetlands in this northern corner of Cumbria near many of our Lake District cottages.

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The Solway remains undiscovered by tourism so whether you are a dedicated bird watcher or you just want to see what it is all about, it is certainly worth a visit. The Solway is within a 30 minute drive of the Lake District National Park and has stunning views to the Lakeland fells, southern Scotland and the coast.

Even to the uneducated observer, it is clear that there are a seriously impressive number of birds to see in the area. The mild conditions attract wintering and migratory birds from the Arctic, most notable is the entire flock of barnacle geese from Svalbard in Russia, numbering around 30,000! With a keen eye and perhaps a guide book to hand, you can also spot ink footed geese, whooper swans, pintail, wigeon, shovelers and teal ducks, dunlin, oystercatchers (my favourite), golden and grey plovers, turnstone, curlew.

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From Mid April arctic and great skuas pass through, brought inland on the westerly breeze. Once the weather really starts to warm up you also see lapwing, snipe, redshank. A little further inland along the estuary birds of prey are common, including peregrine, merlin, short-eared owl and hen harrier.

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The wide range of wildfowl is attracted by the diverse habitat of the Solway. The sands and mud flats are rich feeding grounds, encouraged by the mild, peaceful climate. A cloudy overcast day is often the best time to visit as the cloud means the birds fly lower to the ground, making them easier to spot. The official reserves are a great way to get started with bird watching. One of the best ways to spot birds however is to get out on your bike. The roads are incredibly peaceful (and flat!) so you can roam for miles down the country lanes.

There is very little development on the Solway however the area is within a 30 minute drive of several of our self catering cottages. Click here for more details.

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