SODDY GAP (Fox House South)
CUMBRIA (Little Broughton), (W)
National Grid NY073323
00o00´/00o00´ ha m freshwater pond near coast with grass areas and some bushes
Best Time for visit (time visited)
Birding Site Guide
Soddy Gap, officially known as Fox-House South, is owned by the coal board and was restored between 1985 and 1994.
The area comprises of marsh, scrub, reedbed, 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 regularly can produce a good number of common and scare birds.
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 though is guaranteed, along with Yellowhammer, House Sparrow and Greenfinch. Tree Sparrows breed in the gardens of the house down the hill.
From the parking spot head east through the gate towards the pool, here you are sure to see Stonechat, and Linnet. In the summer Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler can be heard singing here too.
Walk down the hill towards the pool for 10 m and scan the pond with its good numbers of wildfowl including Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard and Goldeneye and Goosander which roost here at night.
In winter and early spring, many gulls visit the ponds including the scarce Mediterranean gull.
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 Goose are regular and I've recorded Greenland White-fronted Goose here in the past.
The marsh holds Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting, Water Rail, Common Snipe and in winter Jack Snipe.
This has got to be one of the best inland sites in Cumbria for large numbers of Whimbrel in the spring, with numbers up to 50 roosting in the fields and on the edges of the pool.
Raptors include Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Barn Owl, and in the winter Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier. These can be seen from anywhere on the site.
Follow the track east past the mixture of young trees, such as Rowan, Oak and Alder, keep your eye out for species such as Siskin, Redpoll and the commoner finches and warblers such as Goldfinch and Willow Warbler. Wheatears are common along this path in spring along with the Great-spotted Woodpecker which often fly over to visit garden feeders. The path turns further to the east, where the hedges hold species such as Bullfinch and various birds 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.
The only downside to this site is the amount of disturbance it gets from dog walkers so early mornings or late evenings are best.
SODDY GAP FLASH
Once back in the car travel 0.8 mile north towards the A594, on your right is a small flooded field which is good for waders, including Ruff and Greenshank.
Target birds winter: Hen Harrier, Jack Snipe, Goosander, Mediterranean Gull and winter thrushes. Spring/Summer: Grasshopper Warbler, Whimbrel, Sedge Warbler, hirundines and Lesser Whitethroat. All year: Tree Sparrow, Common Snipe, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Raven and common finches.
A full species list and photos can be seen by following this link. http://www.freewebs.com/blackbird33/broughtonmoorsoddygap.xls
A total of -- species of mammals.
There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles.
Author: Craig Shaw