Cumbria Crack

New wardens enjoy outdoor office life on Cumbria’s coast

Alice Brooke, new seasonal warden at Foulney Island Nature Reserve and Erin Madden, new seasonal warden at Rockliffe Marsh in the Solway Firth

[S]easonal wardens have just been appointed to monitor and protect the wildlife on two dramatic coastal sites managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust: Rockliffe Marsh in the Solway Firth and Foulney Island Nature Reserve near Barrow.

Erin Madden is the new warden at Rockcliffe Marsh, a privately-owned area of grazed saltmarsh, approximately 1,000 hectares in size, which extends into the Solway Firth. It’s a dramatic spot: “I love it! It’s like a maze out here on the saltmarsh, with lots of creeks crossing it. I’m learning how to navigate across it safely. You can really lose track of where you are in this landscape.”

Erin is enjoying her new role in this beautiful corner of Cumbria. “My work will mainly be surveying the wading birds and gulls on this huge saltmarsh – it’s one of the largest in the country. It’s a great place to see ringed plover, which are quite rare, as well as lapwing, skylark and meadow pipit. It’s an amazing location and it should be a fascinating season.”

Little tern feeding chicks on Foulney Island. Credit: J Sheldon

At the other end of the county, Alice Brooke is the new warden at Foulney Island Nature Reserve. Foulney, a long, narrow island, 24 hectares in size, is a haven for breeding seabirds including three species of tern, ringed plover, oyster catcher and eider duck. Alice will be monitoring the birds throughout the summer, checking their nests and keeping an eye on eggs and hatchings: “I’m especially looking out for the rarest of the terns, the little tern – there were about 23 pairs here last year so I hope we’ll have similar numbers this year. We are hoping that sandwich terns will also come and nest on the beach here and have put out specially-made decoys to attract them!”

Alice loves her new workplace: “It’s an amazing nature reserve with beautiful sunsets. It’s a real privilege to be working out here – not a bad office at all!”

Foulney Island Nature Reserve is open to the public. To prevent bird disturbance, no dogs are allowed (apart from assistance dogs); please keep to the designated trails and check tide timetables before visiting as the nature reserve may be cut off for several hours around high tide.

More details at

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