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Hodbarrow is an RSPB Nature Reserve located on the Duddon Estuary in south Cumbria, near the village of Haverigg, just to the south of the town of Millom.
Ringed Plovers, Northern Lapwings, Common Redshanks and Eurasian Oystercatchers can be seen nesting on the island, while Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and Little Terns nest around the lagoon. Great Crested Grebes, Little Grebes, Common Coots and Tufted Ducks can be seen on the lagoon and Black-tailed Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots and Dunlins are around the island. Common Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Willow Warblers can be found in the scrubby, gorse areas of the reserve, and lookout for early Northern Wheatears on the rocks along the seawall.
Redwings and Fieldfares pass through in October, groups of Red-breasted Mergansers stay on the lagoon during their moult and migrating waders such as Common Greenshanks and Black-tailed Godwits use the reserve to rest and feed.
Large flocks of waders, such as Common Redshanks, Red Knots, Northern Lapwings and Black-tailed Godwits roost on the island in the lagoon. Dunlin may also be present. Tufted Duck, Pochard, Common Teal, Gadwall and Common Coots can usually be found in the main lagoon.
Birds you can see here include:
The nature reserve itself is a protected area, home to the Natterjack Toad and the Bee orchid, also lots of other rare flora and fauna.
History and Use
The reserve was formerly an iron ore mining area, but after the Millom Ironworks closed in 1968, a sea wall was built to keep the sea out of the lagoon at high tide. The reserve and local estuary are home to many resident species of waders, and the breeding terns, 3 species of which return to Hodbarrow each year to nest. There are several small very beautiful lagoons within the reserve.
Areas of Interest
- The lagoon and island for water birds
- The seawall for views of waders on the mudflats of the Duddon Channel
- The scrubby grassland areas for passerines
- Nearby Millom Ironworks Local Nature Reserve
Access and Facilities
- No charge to enter the reserve
- Open at all times
- There is car parking available at Mainsgate Road.
- The main trail links the car park to the seawall. It is suitable for wheelchairs and baby buggies.
- The distance from the car park to the hide along the main trail is 1.4 miles (2.3 km).
- Other trails across the central grassy area are only suitable for foot traffic.
- One hide which looks across the lagoon towards the hills of Kirby Lonsdale and the magnificent view of the Lake District mountains.
- Grid Ref: SD174790
- Tel: 01697 351330 (RSPB)
- Email: [email protected]
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Hodbarrow. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 1 December 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Hodbarrow
Content and images originally posted by christineredgate
Henry H's review We went on our way back from Bassenthwaite, late in the afternoon and regretted not spending more time here. As we approached the turn towards the lighthouse we saw a male Eider sat on the shoreline of a lovely little cove. On the way from the cove to the hide we saw three tern species flying across the road, to and from the sea. (Sandwich and Little, both firsts for us, and Common). From the hide we saw more Eider, Shelduck, Red-Breasted Merganser and other duck species. We also saw a Ringed Plover with two or three chicks. Then the local bagpiper started playing. A local birder told me his name (Jack something?) and said that he comes out there to practice because he likes the solitude and to be a considerate neighbour! It did not intrude in any way on the birdwatching, in fact it seemed to enhance it, I would say. On the way out (toward Haverigg) we saw a large colony of nesting terns. We will be going back very soon, to spend the whole day there. Not too far away is Muncaster Castle where many (captive) Owl species are resident, and there are supposedly beautiful Japanese gardens.
- Varied habitat. Nice little beach cove. Nesting terns and ringed plovers amongst others. The piper!!
- Road in from Hodbarrow end full of potholes. Strong winds.
Henry thank you for your review of Hodbarrow. Yes it is quite a magical place. The bagpiper is called John. One evening I was watching the Herons fishing on a calm tide, and Johnny was playing his bagpipes near the lighthouse. All one could hear was the swirl of the bagpipes, the plaintive call of the Lapwings, and it really was magic. Even though in the background the wake boarders were have a late night practice it did not deter from the calm and peace of the evening. In the RSPB review of the site it mentions that the only toilet facilities are in Millom 2 miles away. That fact is inaccurate. One can drive right through the entire reserve, past the ski slopes where the nesting terns breed, and go into Haverigg village where there are toilets in the local pub, plus food is served 12-2pm and 7-9pm or one can go around to the beach where there is an excellent little cafe and toilets situated on the beach front. Also if one does not mind a bumpy ride, wheelchair access is possible from the road through the reserve into the hide itself.
- Beautiful views
- quiet location
- combines sea with the mountains
- Poor roads. Off the beaten track.