AL­STON RAIL­WAY

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

AL­STON IS RICH in min­er­als, in par­tic­u­lar lead de­posits, and the land­scape has been heav­ily in­flu­enced by the ef­fects of vary­ing meth­ods of min­ing. The rail­way line, which closed in the 1960s, is a great way to see the wildlife. The river gives you your first birds, with reg­u­lar Dip­pers bomb­ing up and down the wa­ter­way. Look out for the white-washed stones, which the birds pre­fer to use. Grey and Pied Wag­tails are likely in spring and sum­mer but sadly the area no longer holds Yel­low Wag­tails, com­mon up to 1983 when so many died in the Sa­hel dur­ing mi­gra­tion, and new silage meth­ods did the rest. The wader pop­u­la­tion is still strong, with large num­bers of Curlew, Lapwing, Red­shank, Snipe and Oys­ter­catch­ers seen in spring and sum­mer. Look for Black Grouse in au­tumn and win­ter. A mixed bunch of war­blers can be found in sum­mer with Wil­low, Gar­den and Wood War­blers, Black­cap and Chif­fchaff, while the river­side trees at­tract Red­start and the odd Pied Fly­catcher. Rap­tors in the area have in­cluded Goshawk, Buz­zard, Kestrel, Hobby, Spar­rowhawk, Osprey and even Rough-legged Buz­zard.

OTHER WILDLIFE Ot­ters are reg­u­lar along with Red Squir­rel, Roe Deer and Badger

Black Grouse

Grey Wag­tail

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