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A summer's day
A walk through the nature reserve on a summer's day

A Rare Habitat...

Some of the habitats at Harrington Nature Reserve are rare, unique and very special. Unimproved grasslands like those at Harrington are now only found in a few places. Agricultural intensification, housing developments, drainage and even a lack of management can reduce the quality of these grasslands.

A walk in the meadows on a summer's day will reveal a wonderful combination of colours and smells. Hem, flowers and grasses provide food sources for insects, invertebrates and small mammals which in turn provide food for carnivorous animals including: Shrews, Foxes, Kestrels and Owls. To find grasslands of this quality on the edge of Workington is a real privilege.

Ducks and Swans on 'The Rezzer'
Ducks and swans on 'The Rezzer'

Open Water

'The Rezzer' consists of open water ranging in depth from nearly a metre to very shallow areas. Dragonflies and damselflies live around this habitat whilst around the water's edge aquatic invertebrates and marginal plans provide food for Mute Swans, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens and the occasional Grey Heron.

Despite the temptation to do so, by not feeding the ducks with bread you will be helping all the other wildlife on the reservoir whilst at the same time ensuring the duck population does not become liable to disease.

Running Water

The Ellerbeck & a Kingfisher
The Ellerbeck (left) and a Kingfisher (right)

The Ellerbeck and other smaller tributaries provide habitat for Water Beetles, the larvae of various flies, small fish (minnows) and Frogs. Kingfishers can often be seen and heard on overhanging branches.

Flowers in the woodland
Flowers growing in the woodland


Much of this nature reserve is now a mixture of scrub and woodland. There is evidence of compiling in places with beautiful flowers including Wood Anemone, Bluebell and Lesser Celandine covering the floor from March to May. Birds include those species at home in more mature woodland: Robin, Wren, Blackbird and the occasional Woodcock. During the warmer summer evenings bats can be seen at dusk.

Willow Carr
Willow Carr

Willow Carr

Much of the reservoir is surrounded by Willow Carr. The wet ground conditions enable willow species including Osler and Crack Willow to thrive.

Willows are amongst the most important tree species for insects and these in turn attract Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs during the summer and a variety of tits and finches throughout the year. The dense wooded stems and extensive root systems of Willow Carr also provide good nesting environments for Mallard, Moorhen and Mute Swans

Willows grow vigorously and coppicing (cutting the trees near to the ground) is sometimes necessary. Coppicing also creates open, sunny areas which benefit butterflies and other small invertibrates

Grassland Meadow

The two meadows are simply wonderful! Both have retained an abundance of herbs and grasses. From early spring to late summer the fields are a perfusion of colour and activity. Colourful flowers such as The Common Spotted Orchid and Bird's-foot Trefoil highlight the green grasses. Butterflies such as the Orange Tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell abound whilst the unkempt nature of the meadow allows small mammals such as Shrews and Voles to thrive. During the winter watch out for Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Tawny Owls making the most of the open conditions in their search for prey.

Grassland Meadow
Grassland Meadow
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With grateful thanks to the following organisations for their hard work, support & funding over the years

The Friends of Harrington Nature Reserve logo Allerdale Borough Council logo Cumbria Community Foundation logo English Nature logo Millennium Volunteers logo
Alcan logo Regeneration Workington logo Cumbria County Council logo The Big Lottery Fund logo BTCV logo
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