SOUTH Walney Nature Reserve has hailed bumper visitor numbers in recent months, recording double the number that visited in 2019.

The reserve has a plethora of rare birds and hosts a grey seal colony as well as the mystery and intrigue of Foulney Island, but this has gone largely unknown to the public outside of Furness until recently.

Warden Sarah Dalrymple believes that more people staying in Barrow as a cheaper alternative to the Lake District has led to this increase and hopes that word of mouth will see more people returning year after year.

“It is amazing to see so many people coming to the reserve,” she said.

“People seem to come here because it is not as busy as the Lake District area as well and have a great time.

“We are still building up our numbers every year but and there is so much wildlife to come and see.”

Now it is summer the public can expect to see nesting gulls, eiders, oystercatchers and ringed plovers. Arctic, little and sandwich terns are summer visitors; these agile seabirds can be seen fishing from Sea Hide.

The terns are notorious on Foulney Island where the warden for the island, Jake Taylor-Bruce, is hoping to help them thrive.

He is also proving popular with the regulars for his enthusiasm and the knowledge he is more than willing to share with visitors.

“Numbers have steadily been growing over the years and we have seen an even greater increase from 2019 this year,” Ms Dalrymple continued.

“In January we saw treble our numbers which was great to see, but it has been double month by month mainly. We have enough room for more, though, as we have a lot of space – we just ask visitors to stick to the paths.”

No dogs are allowed at the reserve.