Have you heard about England's carnivorous plant? It's called the sundew - a plant that has only three varieties, two of which are unlikely to be found beyond Cumbria, where our wet climate is truly conducive to its growth.
The rain that God provides to fill our lovely lakes also supports some brilliant wetland environments that are some of the country's finest. The wet, boggy bits that you spot as you stomp over the fells or trudge around the lake sides are often vast, open expanses of what is known as valley and basin mires, or alternatively, blanket bogs. Whilst it is hard to take your eyes off the fell views in your line of vision, if you manage to cast your eyes downwards and look at the area around your feet, you will instantly discover just how supportive these wetlands are for our wildlife.
Our sundews thrive on all the insects that love the moisture they are treated to in Cumbria and are content to lay their eggs in such friendly environments. The hatching larvae then attract some of our most iconic birds - red grouse, curlews, win chats, stone chats and even the elusive cuckoo!
Keep an eye out for the bog orchid too! It is only 2cm tall and green and yellow in colour, but a wonderful find, if you spot it. It is dependent on the Sphagnum moss for its existence, this forming the carbon-storing peat that is bound to be under your feet in these boggy wildlife abodes that started their life over 10,000 years ago.
This unique wildlife world can be well appreciated on Torver and Subberthwaite Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest near Coniston boasting basin and valley mire. But, if you want to see what the Lake District would look like if left to its own devices, head to Ellister Hill, Beckstones Plantation at Whinlatter, near Keswick, where heather and grass have been given the opportunity to mature and flourish with freedom.
Three raised mires comprise the magnificent Witherslack Mosses, on Morecambe Bay near Kendal and if you use the platform at the Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, you will be able to spot waterfowl and possibly also see red deer. Walking along the boardwalk will let you to get up close to bog asphode, emperor butterflies and hungry sundews, so don't pass up on the opportunity. Another boardwalk excursion, complete with wildlife spotting shelter provided by hides, also allows you to wonder at wildlife living on and around Dubwatch Silver Meadows, near Bassenthwaite.
Roudsea Mosses, near Haverthwaite is home to the Raft spider, a fierce predator of the wetlands! This clever arachnid can devour a black darter dragonfly or even a small fish. They are easily spotted from the accessible circular boardwalk walk here.
The spring horizon at the Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve on the South Solway Coast, is dominated by cotton grass and this reserve is also a habitat for roe deer, hare and wise barn and short-eared owls that hunt over the moss. Wetland wildlife is everywhere and even the more sedate Ambleside park has an offering in the form of snipe and ducks that can be seen from the park, at the point where the River Brathay enters Windermere.
Get a little wet whilst going wild in Cumbria and you won't be disappointed, whether you get bogged down, or walk the plank and follow your inquisitive instincts.
Find events and activities in Cumbria's Wildlife world over the coming months!