Discover great birds at the edge of the Roman Empire!
THIS IS ONE of my favourite sites along Hadrian’s Wall. It is a mixed habitat with its modern quarry, pools, wetland, Whin Sill woodland and even parkland. The views from the top of the wall are amazing, and you can see the large RSPB reserve at Geltsdale standing out on the Pennines, as well as the large conifer blocks of Spaedadum and Kirshope. This is a site where relatively little attention is paid to birds, but I am sure with more coverage the list could increase considerably, as the ‘Tyne gap’ is now recognised as a migration route across Britain. The birds I’ve seen here include Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Merlin and Peregrine. Little Grebes breed in the pools along with Mallard, Moorhen and Tufted Duck. Snipe and Teal arrive in winter, with breeding sites for them close by. The Whin Sill woodland holds Redstarts and occasional Tree Pipits, along with Great Spotted Woodpecker, tits and finches. The parkland can have Wheatear and Whinchat, while the walk to Thirlwall adds breeding Swifts in the castle and mixed woodland birds. Dragonflies fill the ponds in summer but the star plant in the area is chives – probably dropped by a Roman soldier eating his lunch!
Snipe Hen Harrier Nature Picture Library / Alamy