There are many well-known birdwatching spots within easy reach of Windermere and the Howbeck Guest House – perfect for guests who like to enjoy walks full of wildlife, or those planning a dedicated bird-watching holiday in the Lake District. Here are a handful of top birdwatching destinations near Windermere to get you started…
Grizedale Forest (near Hawkshead)
Red Kites were reintroduced into Grizedale Forest in August 2010 as part of a three-year programme. There have been sightings as far north as southern Scotland, and in the skies above Grizedale Forest itself. Whether or not you are lucky enough to spot a Red Kit, you’ll enjoy spotting a colourful array of bird life in the forest all year round, and the experience varies with each season.
Elter Water (near Ambleside)
About eight miles from Windermere in the valley of Great Langdale, serene Elter Water is a small, picturesque, unspoilt lake nestled beneath the craggy Langdale Pikes. Best known for its resident Whooper Swans, which regularly migrate there in the winter from Scandinavia and Siberia, no navigation is allowed on the lake – creating a serene environment that is a haven for a large variety of birdlife and other wildlife. From nearby Skelwith Bridge, take an easy walk of less than two miles to the lake along the rock-strewn Brathay River for the chance to spot a diverse range of birds – both on the Brathay and around the lake’s reed-fringed shoreline.
Sunbiggin (near Orton)
About 25 miles from Windermere, Sunbiggin Tarn, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is a popular place to watch waterfowl. Look out for resident and migrating birds such as Coot, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Goldeneye, Mallard, Moorhen, Snipe, Teal, and many others. Nearby, check out the rural walks around Orton that are also are a big draw for birdwatchers, home to a wide variety of songbirds and waders such as Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing.
RSPB Haweswater (near Penrith)
If you fancy seeing a Golden Eagle, but don’t want to venture right up to the Scottish Highlands, this RSPB reserve is the place to head for – situated about 25 miles from Windermere. From the western end of the reservoir, walk 1.25 miles on an uneven path to the observation point during Spring or Summer, from which point you can observe upland and woodland birds — and may just spot a Golden Eagle. Other species spotted at this reserve include Buzzards circling overhead; Dippers around the edges of the lake and feeder stream; Peregrines nesting on the rocky crags; and Redstart in the birch, ash and oak woodland (from late April until August).
Dodd Wood, Whinlatter Forest Park (Braithwaite, near Keswick)
As part of the Lake District Osprey Project, which runs from April to September, special viewing points have been constructed at Dodd Wood to offer the best views of the Ospreys on their nest and flying to and from it to catch fish from Bassenthwaite Lake. Start at the Lower Viewpoint for views of the Osprey fishing on the lake, as well as the chance to see red squirrels and woodland birds, then walk half a mile to the Upper Viewpoint (about 30 minutes) where optics are available and volunteers are on hand to help you view the nests.