Site Soddy Gap (Fox House South)
Location Near Little Broughton
Grid Reference NY073323
Soddy Gap, officially known as Fox-House South, is owned by the coal Authority and was restored between 1985 and 1994.
The area comprises of marsh, scrub, reed-bed, an island, hedges and open water. So a respectable number of species is possible whenever you visit. This site is often overlooked, as is much of Cumbria, but if watched regular can produce a good number of common and scarce birds.
This site is wheelchair friendly
Because the pool is small, visiting birdwatchers can obtain close views of many birds and because it is under-watched you might just find something special yourself.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in birdwatching, but Tree sparrow from the car park is almost a certainty, along with Yellow Hammer, House Sparrow and Greenfinch.
From the parking spot head east through the gate towards the pool, hear it is possible to see Stonechat, and Linnet. In the summer Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler can be heard singing from here.
Walk down the hill towards the pool for 5 meters and scan the pond for good numbers of wildfowl including Tufted, Mallards, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard and Goldeneye. On Occasions Goosander roost here.
In winter and early spring, many gulls visit the pond, including the scarce Mediterranean Gull. Record numbers for Cumbria of Mediterranean Gulls visited The ponds in late Summer 08, max number 21.
Greylag Geese use the pool all year and the odd looking goose turns up occasionally, such as Bar-Headed and Snow Goose. In winter Pink Footed Geese are regular and Greenland and European White-Fronted Geese have been recorded here.
The marsh holds Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting, Water Rail, Common Snipe and in winter Jack Snipe.
This is probably one of the best inland sites in Cumbria for large numbers of Whimbrel in the spring, with numbers of up to 51 roosting in the fields and on the edges of the pool, although numbers have been very low recently.
Raptors include Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Barn owl and in the winter Short-Eared Owl. Also very important for Hen Harrier, these can be seen flying anywhere on the site. West of Soddy Gap is Derwent forest aka the dump, one of the best places in Cumbria for Winter Owls with up to 6 Short-eared, 2 Barn Owl and 2 Tawny Owl. Woodcock are also regular winter visitors. You do have to wait till dark to get the best views of the birds. http://g.co/maps/ehf7x
Follow the track West then North past the mixture of young trees, which include, Rowan, Oak and Alder, keep your eye out for species such as Siskin, Redpoll and the commoner finches and warblers. Wheatears are common along this path in spring along with the Great-Spotted Woodpecker. The path turns further to the east, where the hedges hold other species such as Bullfinch and most of the tit family.
Return the way you came back to the car, then head north past the paddocks which again can hold Wheatears and Tree Sparrows.
Follow the hedge along the disused road, this is a great area for many birds. Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Goldfinch are common here.
This area is popular with dog walkers so early mornings or late evenings are best.
LOW MEADOWS aka SODDY GAP FLASH
Once back in the car travel 0.8 of a mile north towards the A594, on your right is a small flooded field, this is a recent occurance but is already pulling in waders including Ruff and Greenshank. (This has now been filled in by the farmer. What a waste of good habitat.)
All Year, Tree Sparrow, Common snipe, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Raven and Common finches.
Spring/Summer, Grasshopper Warbler, Whimbrel, Sedge Warbler, Hirundines and Lesser Whitethroat
Winter, Hen Harrier, Jack Snipe, Goosander, Mediterranean gull and Winter thrushes.
Total species seen 134