There are many song birds and waders like curlew, redshank and lapwing that nest around the parish. The west end of tarn pasture always has Skylarks in summer. You can also hear snipe drumming when the conditions are right at tarn pasture and other places. Although bird numbers have decreased in recent years considerable numbers are still in evidence.
As is the case elsewhere in the country there are several factors that may contribute to a decline in bird populations such as an increase in the number of people using the area for leisure activities. Early silageing and ground nesting birds do not go together and the removal of hawthorns and other trees on the verges reduces habitat and take away nesting sites and winter shelter. Where walls are replaced with wire fencing there is a similar loss of protection from the cold in winter. BuTarn Pasture at Ortonards and kestrels can be seen in the vicinity of Orton but again numbers have reduced in recent years. Merlin, peregrine falcons and short eared owls (bog owls) were more in evidence some years ago.
Sunbiggin Tarn (4 miles)
Sunbiggin Tarn, situated in open moorland, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is recognised for its variety of wildlife and plantlife and is a popular place for bird watchers. There used to be a big gull colony nesting there in the past. These days some seem to come each spring and then go away again. There are water fowl on the tarn most of the time but they don't appear to nest these days. However at various times throughout the year it is possible to observe a wide variety of resident and migrating birds. Sightings can include Coot, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Pintail, Pochard, Shelduck, Snipe, Teal, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Wigeon.
Lowther Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre (14 miles)
For a day out bird watching with a difference the Lowther Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre allows visitors to get close to a range of birds of prey including over 150 falcons, hawks, eagles, buTarn Pasture at Ortonards and owls from the UK and oversees.