• All Change at Hodbarrow

    Spring has arrived at RSPB Hodbarrow and the breeding season has begun, even if the current weather is suggesting different!

    The first 300 Sandwich Terns have made it back from their wintering grounds, some travelling distances of up to 10,000km from Namibia and South Africa, to Hodbarrow’s coastal lagoon island, measuring less than 0.02km². Thousands of seabirds, waders and ducks will breed on this tiny island including…

    • 7 Apr 2022
  • A 'Little' help for the terns at Hodbarrow

    Hodbarrow lagoon island is getting busy with up to 1,800 Black-headed gulls and 400 Sandwich terns filling the air with their shrieks and chatter as they rekindle pair bonds and stake claim to their breeding territories; which, in the case of a Sandwich tern, is only about one square metre!

    Sandwich terns on the lagoon island

    Joining the rabble, the first Little tern was sighted on the 9th of April, just a day later…

    • 19 Apr 2021
  • Sandwich terns return to Hodbarrow!

    It's the start of a new season at Hodbarrow as we welcomed backed the first Sandwich terns this week with 3 briefly and tentatively circling over the lagoon island on the morning of the 22nd March, before heading back out to sea. On the 24th, 16 touched down on the island briefly and by the 25th they had grown in numbers and confidence with 52 individuals on the island for most of the day, spending their time preening…

    • 26 Mar 2021
  • A Tale of Terns; Hodbarrow 2020 Roundup

    While our lives over the last 6 months have been drastically altered, the terns at Hodbarrow have continued theirs as normal, arriving at our UK shores in April right at the start of a global pandemic. Our human lives are of no concern to a 40cm seabird that has just flown 5,000 km from their wintering grounds in West Africa!

    Unfortunately, no one was there to greet them at Hodbarrow this year until the 11th May. By this…

    • 24 Aug 2020
  • Getting down to business and an unexpected visitor

    On the 18th of April our first common and little terns started arriving back and they’ve gotten up to 43 and 16 individuals respectively. Sandwich tern numbers have been increasing steadily up to a peak count of 1100. All tern species are now making scrapes and in a couple of weeks we’ll have a good idea of many are going to breed at Hodbarrow this year. Towards the end of May we should have our first black headed gull…

    • 8 May 2019
  • Hotting up at Hodbarrow

    Despite the season starting off a little slowly, the sandwich terns have been making up for it and the colony has now built up to over 370 individuals. A couple of pairs have even started making scrapes. Last year was our biggest year for sandwich terns and around this time there were 250 and it wasn’t until the end of April that it looked like any were sitting. It was the middle of May last year that we really got an…

    • 12 Apr 2019
  • New season at Hodbarrow

    Hello! I’m Cara, one of the tern Protection Assistants at Hodbarrow, back again for my third year looking after the colony. There has been a lot of work done while I’ve been away, extending the island and creating more space for nesting and two additional lagoons have been created on either side of the island. The oystercatchers have really taken to the bank at the back of the left hand one. The anti-predator fence that…

    • 4 Apr 2019
  • Tern around at Hodbarrow

    It's shaping up to be another great season at Hodbarrow (fingers crossed, touch wood and everything else). It's still only half way through the season but our counts have been amazing so far and much more than anything we could have imagined when we've been waist deep in freezing cold water fixing the fence.

    Sandwich terns are the stars of the show with an amazing peak of 3100 individuals with on average…

    • 12 Jun 2018
  • Noticed some work going on?

    You may have noticed recently a little bit of work going on around Hodbarrow particularly on the island in front of the hide. We've had a contractors on there doing work to reinvigorate the island for terns. In the process this is creating a bit of nice habitat for the end of winter into spring.

    We've been using a large digger to scrape back vegetation from the island to uncover the limestone slag underneath. This…

    • 23 Feb 2018
  • Fancy Helping Terns at Hodbarrow?

    We've got two new vacancies for Protection Assistants at Hodbarrow next summer. If you fancy the challenge of working on a tern colony have a look at the website and apply! 


    Volunteers Needed

    Just fancy helping out now and again ....get in touch we have a number of volunteer opportunities throughout the year and…

    • 7 Dec 2017
  • Hodbarrow Tern on package holiday to ....Namibia

    We've just received word of one of our Sandwich terns we colour ringed in the summer. One of the birds hatched and fledged from Hodbarrow this year has turned up in Namibia. The colour ring was read and reported back to us here in Cumbria last week.

    Bird C34 has flown (probably not in a straight line) over 5421 miles to Nimibia. Namibia is below the equator and currently a balmly 18 degrees Celsius with bright sunshine…

    • 24 Nov 2017
  • Terntastic - more tern news

    Sorry about the tern heavy blogging recently - we've had such a good year that it's hard not to shout about. 


     (Arctic Tern Photo MCM)

    Our tern numbers have rocketed this year (we're taking each year as it comes but we're a little chuffed with this one!). Due to the increased numbers and a more robust colony we've even managed to get onto the island and get some ringing done. Why you might ask? A lot of what…

    • 16 Aug 2017
  • The breeding season so far - record season for Sandwich terns!

    A quick update from us about the breeding season so far. It's been a great year and many of you will have met Kathi and Cara who have been wardening the colony this year. They've been spending long hours sitting in the hide over the summer period and their hard work and dedication has been worth it! We've had a record season for Sandwich terns, little terns have had the most significant fledgling numbers for several years…

    • 14 Jul 2017
  • Natterjacks, terns and chicks, oh my!

    I've been very excited and looking forward to the natterjack survey at Hodbarrow this year, mainly because I'd never seen one before. I was delighted to find their squat squashed-looking wee bodies under the rocks. They were even using some hideouts that had been placed for the little tern chicks (at least something was using them!):

    We also found a couple of newts:

    Another reason for going onto the island…

    • 18 Aug 2016
  • Blue is the colour...

    Clearing the gorse is an important part of maintenance on the reserve. For a while cleared areas look untidy, but eventually the benefits start to appear. Large groups of wild flowers, almost carpets in some parts, have used the chance of the free ground to make attractive colour patches near the main paths. Some blue flowers I spotted today were speedwell, bugle, bluebells and violets.



    • 21 May 2015
  • It's a Bug's life at Hodbarrow

    A few months ago I said I had been inspired by the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary Survey to take shoot some macro photography of insects. One reason to have a go is it isn't until you actually try that you realise just how difficult it is.

    The first thing I noticed was as soon as I got close to anything it became camera shy and scuttled off. So I adopted the tactic of laying in the grass and not moving. A tough job…

    • 10 Sep 2014
  • A glimpse of the past - Hodbarrow guided walk: 24th August

    On Sunday 17th Chris Lloyd-Rogers and I were lucky enough to have a walk around Hodbarrow with Stephe Cove who has researched the site for many years.

    We were getting our ducks in a row (sorry - not a good tern of phrase ;-)  for the guided walk this Sunday (details below).

    Stephe had brought with him amazing samples of Hodbarrow ore. They contain 70% iron and really looked like samples of metal, not rock.

    We walked…

    • 21 Aug 2014
  • A Dicky Bird with no feathers

    One of our volunteers gives below his personal account of an experience he had recently at Hodbarrow.

    RSPB welcomes dog walkers at the Hodbarrow site. We do ask that they consider other visitors and the ecology of the reserve by clearing up any mess and keeping their pets under control.

    One day - soon - I promise to blog about real dicky birds, I have the notes in front of me. For now  I’d just like to reflect on how…

    • 30 Jul 2014
  • Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary Survey

    Last week RSPB Hodbarrow echoed to cries of "Over here Dave!" as West Cumbria group volunteers spent a very pleasant few hours searching for Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies.

    The reason this survey is important is it can be used as an indicator of the balance of grassland, scrub and trees on the site for future planning.

     Warden Dave Blackledge shows a group of visitors a butterfly he has caught.  A Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (RSPB image library)

    Above left: RSPB Hodbarrow Warden Dave Blackledge shows the…

    • 24 Jun 2014
  • A good Tern out

    A very important visitor to RSPB Hodbarrow is the Little Tern. This seabird is the UK's smallest tern.

    Little Tern 

    Significant efforts have been made at Hodbarrow to encourage and protect these birds. Its decline in Europe make it an Amber List species.

    Today there was a report of 60 little terns with up to 12 pairs already territorial – could be a bumper year!

    In early April staff from Campfield Marsh were…

    • 16 May 2014
  • Come, Rest Awhile and let us idly stray

    As anyone who has visited RSPB Hodbarrow will tell you the views are stunning. 

    One favourite view of mine is near the old lighthouse looking north to Black Combe and the fells of the Lake District.

    The title of this blog entry is from a poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874 – 1942), she writes:

    Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray 
    In glimmering valleys, cool and far away. 

    Come from the greedy mart, the troubled…

    • 4 May 2014
  • Sightings for March

    Thank you to everyone who helps to maintain the list of sightings in the hide.

    Notable sightings include:

    Slavonian Grebe: 10th March

    Photo: Robert Bowers

    Scaup  10th March

    photo: Robert Bowers

    Chiffchaff 19th March

    Photo (not at Hodbarrow): John Richardson

    Please continue to add sightings on the board.

    • 1 Apr 2014
  • RODiS wildlife recording system

    A quick note to say that on 28th March there will be a workshop at the Millom Network Centre LA18 5AB to explain how to use the RODiS wildlife recording system.

    For anyone interested in recording wildlife, this is a great way to do it.

    The link below is to the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre newsletter, giving the details of the event (and the other workshops in south Cumbria).

    • 20 Mar 2014
  • A few sightings from a lovely sunny Hodbarrow

    No jacket required today. What a relief to not have to be waterproofed up to the max. Even on the sea wall where the normal blast of cold wind normally makes you stop and add a few layers the sun was warm. The fine weather meant for fine views up towards the fells - something we haven't really seen for a while! 

    Anyway I said sightings so here they are! The highlights for me today apart from the beautiful great…

    • 10 Mar 2014