WALLTOWN CRAGS

Dis­cover great birds at the edge of the Ro­man Em­pire!

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - JOHN MILES

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

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