Thursday, 17 April 2014

Natterjack Toad Guided Walks 18th and 25th April 2014

It is illegal to disturb natterjack toads in any stage of their life-cycle without a license, a guided walk by our licensed rangers ensures the best experience of these amazing creatures.

18th and 25th April 2014 7.30pm from our car park (Hawthwaite Lane, Roanhead, LA14 4QJ)
The walk is about 1.5miles over uneven terrain and beach, passing water courses.  Please bring a torch and warm clothing.
2014 The story so far...
The evening of the 30th March was kick off for the new natterjack toad breeding season, as the males started calling beside the pools.
It wasn't until the 7th April that we had actually recorded any spawn strings.  This is a freshly laid spawn string still formed as a double helix.  Looking into the water from above they look like black bootlaces.
After a few warm days the spawn have separated in their jelly strands.
A week on, since conditions have been suitable, they have ingested their jelly and have started to look like little black commas.

Stay tuned to see our little babies grow up...

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Love My Beach!

Thousands of people come each year to visit our stunning beach but we need to make sure we keep it this way.  Threats from pollution in the sea, litter and dog poo can all hinder your enjoyment and damage habitats and kill wildlife.
A European Directive coming into effect from 2015 will mean that higher standards of water quality will need to be met in order for our water to be safe for swimming and paddling.
By working together with businesses, farmers, visitors, Town and Parish Councils and volunteers we want to exceed these required standards by 2015.

We kicked off our membership of LoveMyBeach with a good old beach clean, which attracted 12 people who collected 320kg of litter.

If you would like to get involved our next Beach Clean is 12th April 10.30a.m from our car park, Roanhead, Hawthwaite Lane, Near Barrow in Furness LA14 4QJ

For more information call 01229 462855 or visit the LoveMyBeach website at

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

By request...

So February started out with yet another high tide taking out our salt marsh fence

We also had further erosion to our rock armour protecting the fishing huts at the southern area of the reserve

I was allowed out on day release to visit Nether Wasdale in the Western Valleys.  Here I was planting native trees for a more natural transition from wooden valley floor to open hillside

I had another excuse to go walkabout when I took some of our volunteers up to Wathenlath Tarn in Borrowdale to learn how to hedgelay.  This is brilliant experience, sharing skills and knowledge from other Rangers in the Lakes.

Back on site and we have a few slacks like this that have become overgrown with wood small-reed which the cattle don't like to eat.  This lessens plant diversity in this area.
Therefore we invited the boys in from the Western Valleys and the other Rangers from our patch with their brushcutters and got them to work, acting like mechanical cows.

Volunteers from Sizergh, including Tom Price the Gardner came and raked the reed off, as well as chopping down some tough hawthorn, and removed it from site.

Lets hope after all that hard work the cows will now get in there and stay on top of their munching.  With Spring just around the corner, it will be great to see what pops up in its place.

Talking of popping up, we had yet more Snow bunting.  The first flock we recorded got up to 21 in number, but since then only 9 have stayed on.

So the news you've all been dying to hear is...we've finished the first stage of our boardwalk project.  To open it (using loppers and hazard tape) we invited Ann Thurlow, Mayor of Dalton-in-Furness, who we're also honoured to have as one of our volunteers!

Whilst I skip off into the sun, Ranger Dog Bob looks on in sheer embarrassment that I'm his!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Grand Boardwalk Project has Started!

But first lets play eye spy to try and find these little busy bodies of the coast.  Four Turnstone

So this was how the start of our boardwalk looked before.  The vegetation had grown over and the slippy wooden boards had warped
Using a mattock we were able to prise the old board away from the rotten runner below, leaving a level bed of sand underneath.
We lay new recycled plastic runners down in place of the old wooden ones.  This time we used 6 in order to build a stable platform less likely to bend as demonstrated by our old boards.
First a pilot hole was drilled through the board, then the hole was drilled with a countersink bit in order for the screws to sit tightly below the surface to prevent any trip hazards.  Due to the nature of using plastic, we had to carefully allow 1cm spacing between each board in order for the plastic to expand and contract in the changing weather conditions
The runners were drilled through and attached using a coach bolt.  This just prevents the boards moving away from each other
The tools of our trade, includes three drills as it saves time changing bits.
The story so far...come back and see more from the remainder of our project soon

Monday, 13 January 2014

After the storm came the floods...

Friday 3rd January saw a 9.97meter high tide with South Westerly winds of 48mph.  This meant that the Southern parts of our reserve that is often protected by Walney Island experienced mass flooding.  In this area we have 19 privately owned fishing huts which were all engulfed with waves, many reaching up to the windows even though they are all on stilts.  Here is the footage...

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Great Storm of 2013

Thursday 5th December was no ordinary day here at Sandscale.  We had high tides of 9.81meters and the gusts of 63mph winds were pushing the tide even higher.  Although we had to cancel the volunteer work party, Neil and Myself were lucky enough to capture the events on camera...
This is the view from the boardwalk, usually the tide will be a good meter away from our frontal dunes on a really high tide.  Here our frontal dunes are just being engulfed by the storm surge.
This view of our blowout is only impressive when you learn that the bush at ground level used to be at the top of the dune.  Later this shrub was found just below our boardwalk, half a mile away
 This footage was captured whilst being stood inside the blow out, an hour before high tide.  Needless to say we couldn't hang around for long.

So what sort of damage was done?  Here are our before and after shots...
 Using the tree in the background as a marker, you can see the front ridge has all but disappeared

 The fence from the blowout that was catching sand and starting to build up as a ridge has completely gone, along with our fence.

Although dramatic, this is really good news for us.  Sandscale is a dynamic system with constantly shifting sands.  More bare sands create a good habitat for early pioneer plants.  It's also great news for our Natterjack Toads who bury into the sand dunes and hunt along the shore where vegetation is sparse.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Don't miss getting the latest news from Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve; visit our twitter page at