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Wildlife in the English Lake District World Heritage Site

30 August 2018

As the UK’s largest World Heritage site (229,200 ha!) the Lake District is a haven for animals both wild and domestic. Haweswater and its neighbour Ullswater Valley are two of the top places in the Lake District to discover a myriad of wildlife, from the hay meadows and mossy woodlands that sit in the valley bottom to the windswept fells and crags that support a huge diversity of species both native and migratory.

Probably one of the most unmistakable animals you can see in and around the shores of Ullswater is the red deer, in fact the herd of red deer that congregate on Martindale (on the south-east shore of Ullswater) is one of the oldest in England. As a native species that migrated to Britain from Europe 11,000 years ago they are the UK’s largest land mammal with some stags weighing up to 190kg. You’ll be able to spot the deer year-round at dusk or dawn but during the rut in autumn they become almost unavoidable with the stags’ bellowing calls echoing over the valleys to attract and control females.

From one of the largest species to some of the smallest, pied flycatchers and redstarts seek out holes in the trees in the mossy, fern filled oak woodlands around the edges of Ullswater. These stunning birds start to appear in spring having made the monumental journey to the Lakes from West Africa. Although pied flycatchers appear on the red list for conservation concern due to a steady reduction in the type of mature woodland they need to thrive they can be seen relatively easily in Naddle Forest near Haweswater in the months of May, June and July.

The Lake District is well known for the tufty eared, cheeky creatures that are the red squirrels. Under threat from the non-native grey squirrels a monumental amount of voluntary conservation goes into helping the red squirrel hang on in Cumbria. Recently there have been sightings of the elusive pine marten in the region and there is discussion as to whether they could be fully reintroduced which may help these tufted-eared creatures hang on in Cumbria. Your best chance of spotting reds is at Aira Force.

With the RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the National Trust all looking after the wildlife here in the Lake District the animals are in good hands and should continue to thrive for decades to come.

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Another Place, Ullswater