Windermere may be famous for its stunning lake but it is equally well known for its wildlife, aquatic plants and birds.
Wintering birds such as the Golden Eye or Tufted Duck can be found in the region, plus the widest range of large aquatic plants in the National Park. Underwater plants such as Waterwort and White Water Lily can also be found in Windermere. The region is also home to important lakeshore wetlands, where otters and native white-clawed crayfish thrive. Charr fish can also still be found in the lake, which are usually associated with Arctic Waters.
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Reed beds offer secure resting places for birds and breeding birds in the Spring and Summer and reed fringes also help break up wave energy from wind and boat wakes, and slow down the erosion of the shoreline.
Although grey squirrels are increasing their populations in South Cumbria, and to a lesser extent North Cumbria, there are still large numbers of red squirrels within northern areas of the National Park. When faced with competition from grey squirrels the reds survive best in large blocks of coniferous woodland. They need a consistent and diverse food supply consisting of tree seeds, nuts, berries, cones, buds, shoots, flowers, lichen, fungi and occasionally insects.
The autumn and winter seed harvest is important for surviving the winter and for breeding successfully the following year. Squirrels do not hibernate, they need to eat all year round to survive. Between April and August the natural food supplies of a red squirrel are at their lowest, consequently as many as 5 out of 6 young red squirrels may die in their first year.
There is a good variety of places to cater for lovers of animals in Cumbria, from the specialist centres for birds of prey and fishes, to Lakeland’s only Zoo at Dalton-in-Furness where tigers and other rare animals can be seen.
Top places to visit include the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, about a mile out of Dalton-in-Furness. This the Lake District’s only zoological park, which is recognised as one of Europe’s leading conservation zoos. 17 acres are home to the rarest animals on earth, who are participants in co-ordinated breeding programmes to save them from extinction in the wild.
The Aquarium of the Lakes at Newby Bridge. At Lakeside, on the southern end of Windermere you can discover in over 30 displays the fascinating and often secret world of wildlife and freshwater creatures dwelling in and alongside these magnificent waters.
If you are planning to visit the Lake District and view the wildlife, why not book into a romantic Windermere cottage with hot tub and make the most of your stay in this beautiful part of England?