We also have a range of woodland, from mature woods to newly planted and coppiced areas. These are home to various bird species including owls – barn, tawny and little, bullfinch, goldfinch and greenfinch, lesser spotted woodpeckers, jays, magpies, rooks and ravens. They also support a variety of plant life including celandine, wood anemone, bluebells, wild garlic, primrose and sorrel. The coppiced areas particularly allow some of these plants to flourish as it brings in more light.
The Barn Owls were originally brought here from Muncaster Castle on the condition they be placed in a refurbished barn that was located here on site. The area around the barn was enhanced to encourage the population of a Barn Owls staple diet, voles. The owls can often be seen flying off in search of their prey.
Bats are another regular feature here at Forrest Hills, having worked with conservation groups on the design of our two outer columns of the Resource Centre to incorporate roosting area for them. It also holds nest boxes for swifts and swallows.
Gail Armstrong aka The Bat Lady holds popular courses.
The course has proved very popular amongst ecologists from all over the country and Forrest Hills is an ideal venue” said Gail. “The Conder Lodge is very comfortable and we are able to deliver courses in a relaxed atmosphere which ideally suits our needs. Feedback from previous courses has been consistently good, with participants appreciating the lovely setting as well as the excellent home-made food.
A three quarter mile long stretch of the River Conder flows through the centre of Forrest Hills. The river has its source in the Clougha hills and reaches the Lune estuary and the sea at Conder Green. It is only 7 miles long in total and our part is about the middle of its journey. The river supports dipper, kingfisher and grey wagtails. It has native brown trout, eels and occasional salmon.
It is rated as a high quality river by the Environment agency who take regular water and kick samples at Dam Head bridge. On one occasion a lamphrey was found – an indicator species for very clean waters.
The still waters of the two lakes encourage dragonfly, mayfly, and other insect life, frogs and toads, and water birds such as moorhens, coots and dabchick.
The rough grassland is loved by ground nesting migratory birds such as oyster catchers, lapwing, whimbrels and curlew. It is also popular with small mammals such as voles and field mice which in turn attract predators such as kestrels, owls and buzzards.
Even the mowed fairways attract particular species – thrushes and blackbirds, hares and hedehogs.