Humphrey Head

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Humphrey Head from the south  Copyright Dave Dunford and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.Click image for details
Ravens are often seen flying over Humphrey head

Ravens are often seen flying over Humphrey head

Humphrey head is a limestone promontory which is important not only for its flora and fauna, including many rare species, but also for its geological exposures.Extending into Morcambe Bay,and offering a fabulous panorama across Morecambe Bay, it was leased by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust from Holker Estates in 1992 and was established as a nature reserve in memory of Joy Ketchen, who was Cumbria Wildlife Trust's first conservation officer.
The reserve covers 23 hectares and comprises of steep west-facing limestone cliffs (rising to a height of 45 metres in places), unimproved flower-rich limestone grassland, small areas of heath, improved grassland and maritime and lichen communities.The main botanical interest of the Head is the flora of the western cliffs. The combination of geographical position, proximity to the sea and the underlying limestone rock, has resulted in an unusual combination of plants being present. On the cliff top, plants such as common and hoary rock rose, blue moor-grass, limestone bedstraw, green-winged orchid and wild thyme occur. Sheep have access to these areas and maintain a relatively short turf. Further down, out of the reach of the sheep, taller herbs grow such as bloody cranesbill and spiked speedwell. Yew, hazel and Lancastrian whitebeam cling on by sending their roots into cracks in the rock. Ivy is also frequent here. Lower still, the salt spray prevents many plants from becoming established but thrift, Portland spurge and rock samphire are amongst the species which can tolerate such conditions.

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Look out for peregrine at Humphrey head
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license,click image for details. The fields on top of the Head have, by contrast, been modified by agriculture over hundreds of years. Whilst not rich botanically, they have small areas of limestone pavement harbouring species such as hart's-tongue fern, rue-leaved saxifrage and herb Robert. The most striking features here are the scattered hawthorns which have been sculpted over many years by the prevailing south westerly winds.

A number of uncommon invertebrates have been recorded at Humphrey Head including glow worm, northern brown argus butterfly and small eggar moth. It is an excellent site for bird watching on Morecambe Bay, especially in winter, with many waders and wildfowl (including shelduck left) viewable at high tide.The site also attracts both raven and peregrine
Where to Watch Birds North West England & the Isle of Man
This region holds some of the finest upland sites in England, as well as some superb wetlands including Morecambe Bay which holds the largest wader roost in the country.The western coast of Northern England has a good record for attracting nearctic vagrants and the Lake District is the only place in England where Golden Eagles breed.
The guide explores the best birding sites in the area, and several new sites have been added to this revised and updated third edition.Each site is described in terms of habitat,species, access and timing, and the volume is illustrated throughout with line drawings and maps of each site.
Paperback 272pp.3rd edition. Click here for ordering details.....
Where to Watch Birds North West England & the Isle of Man
Recommended reading:The Breeding Birds of Cumbria. Recommended reading:The Breeding Birds of Cumbria.
Cumbria Bird Club

Tetrad maps of both distribution and abundance are included for each of the 152 breeding species. Range, trends and population estimates,are also given . Published by the Cumbria Bird Club this title includes information on the first breeding record of Mediterranean Gull and Common Rosefinch,and the discovery of breeding Honey Buzzard and,the return of the Osprey after an absence of 170 years. Hardback;390pp.Colour maps

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Bird photographs from Humphrey Head
Bird video from Humphrey head
Humphrey Head on Twitter
Humphrey head blogs and links
Humphrey head local services
Birding walks around Humphrey Head

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