Signs of Spring

Despite the recent cold (and rather wet) weather, it is the return of the Curlews to Layside which tells me that spring is on the way! We are so lucky that the fields surrounding Layside play host to these iconic birds – the very symbol of Northumberland National Park. Their distinctive and often haunting call can be heard through the morning mist, and always lifts the spirits when it feels like winter just won’t give way to spring! It is also a reminder that the fantastic seasonal ruby ale (brewed locally at Allendale) “Curlew’s Return” is imminent – a favourite amongst our guests!

Curlews, with their distinctive long curved beaks, are often associated with the rugged landscapes and vast expanses of moorland and Northumberland is one of the few places in England where they can still be found in relatively healthy numbers. Layside is a chosen stop off point for these migrating birds which have chosen to breed here for many years, making the most of the large open spaces and tasty invertebrates. A short walk before breakfast and you are bound to hear them call at this time of year – and keep an eye out to see them overhead protecting their nesting site.

Unfortunately, curlew populations have been declining across the UK in recent decades due to habitat loss, predation, and changes in land management practices, but conservation efforts have been undertaken in Northumberland and other parts of the country to protect and restore curlew habitats, including the creation of nature reserves and the implementation of conservation measures on farmland.


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