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Patch Birding at Borrans Park

Spend a (virtual) morning birding with Opticron Ambassador Harry Coghill at Borrans Park.

Borrans Park is situated in the Lake District National Park at the head of Lake Windermere, near the town of Ambleside. In the past, it has held a Roman Fort which dates back to the 1st century AD. Due to archaeological exploration this still has viewable foundations.

I have been visiting Ambleside on holiday all my life. During the holidays I spent many early mornings walking around Borrans Park looking for wildlife, such as the Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra, which I still haven’t seen at this location.

A move to the University of Cumbria, Ambleside campus in September 2022 has allowed me to adopt Borrans Park as my local patch. I now spend lots of time wandering around the marsh, scrub and parkland which has led to many interesting finds. Some of my highlights include my first-ever Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus which peaked at a total of 3 birds present on the 22nd of November 2022, 2 Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla on the 11th and the 15th of November 2022 and at least one Great Northern Diver Gavia immer on the 13th of November 2022.

Apart from the rare/uncommon species, patch birding is kept fresh via vismig or visible migration. I have found a great passion in recording the species which are flying over and or stopping off on patch. Birds such as a Sand Martin Riparia riparia with an early record of one on the 18th of March 2023. Pink-footed geese Anser brachyrhynchus can be seen regularly moving between Lancashire and the Solway Firth and even migrating back north, using the valleys through the Lake District. A high count of 576 individuals flew North West on the 27th of March 2023. With spring in full swing, I’m looking forward to picking up more migrants in the coming months.  

Borrans Park has been watched by other observers for many years. Previous records include a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana which was seen in the marsh on the 3rd of October 2011. A Red-necked grebe Podiceps grisegena, a Smew Mergus albellus and a Long-tailed duck Clangula hymemalis were all present on the 12th of January 2011. My personal Borrans Park list stands at 76 species with a total of 138 species being recorded overall.

Species which are common in most places can be rare in areas such as Borrans Park. These 3 Common Pochard Aythya ferina are an example with only one record since I began patching this area. 

Patch birding has had a positive impact on my life, becoming a way of connecting with nature around me and being in touch with the seasons as they shift, hearing the first Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) or the last Whooper Swans migrating back North to breed brings excitement for the coming Spring and Summer.

Pink-footed geese, 26th of January 2023 – Harry Coghill