Author: Jon C

Latest Closure Information

As many of you will know, we are temporarily CLOSED to visitors during the current lockdown.

This includes:
Visitor Centre
Toilets
Hides and trails
Café and shop
The public Causeway is open as normal for local, essential exercise only

Anyon…

A Natural New Year

 With the new year fast approaching, many of us will be more than happy to wave goodbye to 2020; an often exhausting and deeply concerning year if ever there was.

As has been mentioned multiple times here and elsewhere, one of the few benefits of lockdowns and travel restrictions was the nationwide increase in nature awareness. Whether we were hearing more birdsong in our towns and gardens or discovering access to the outdoors close to where we live, many of us found some comfort in the natural world. Here at Leighton Moss we welcomed many first-time visitors from the local area and we were delighted to help further inspire and encourage this new-found love of landscapes and our amazing native wildlife.

Despite Covid guidelines preventing us from operating as we normally would we have been thrilled to remain open for much of the year, allowing our regular visitors and those discovering us for the first time, to come and find solace in the reedbeds, meres, marshes  and woodlands of the nature reserve. There has been a great deal of discussion around how being outdoors and connecting to nature can benefit us in many ways, from improving mental health to physical wellbeing and at times like these, ‘nature therapy’ is essential for many of us.

If ever there was a time to make more space for nature in our lives, this is it. Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to immerse yourself further into the fabulous world on your doorstep!   

We would like to wish everyone a very happy New Year and we look forward to a time when things may return to a state that resembles ‘normal’ – one thing for sure, nature will be here to help us cope with whatever we have to deal with in 2021.

Don’t forget, we are open from 10am – 4pm daily with the exception of Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 January.                

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Winter Reed Cuts & Festive Opening

As we hurtle toward the end of what has been an extraordinary year in so many ways I hope, like me, you have been able to take some comfort in nature. Just being outdoors does do wonders for the mind, soul and body.

 In recent days, while going about my onsite business, I have been fortunate to see some wonderful wildlife – red deer in the reed beds, bittern at the water’s edge, multiple marsh harriers hunting over the expansive reeds, snoozing path-side tawny owl, great white egrets stalking for prey, merlin in pursuit of a panicked starling and dazzling bearded tits still coming to grit on the trays! Sheer magic. 

Our wardens and volunteers have been very busy, as always. Visitors have noticed plumes of smoke emanating from the depths of the reserve, as the team have been toiling on a winter reed cut. This helps improve the health of the reedbed by stimulating new growth and it also benefits many of our special wildlife. The work never stops! (Pic by Patrick Keating)       

If you are planning to visit us over the festive period for some nature therapy or to visit the shop or café we’ll be open 10am to 4pm daily except:  

Christmas Eve – Closed

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day – Closed

We will also be shut on Monday January 4 and Tuesday January 5

From all of us at Leighton Moss we wish you a very Happy Christmas and a much improved New Year! 

Stay safe, keep well and we hope to see you soon.

Jon

More paths re-open!

I’m happy to say that we have yet more good news to share this week – we have reopened the trail towards the Grisedale and Tim Jackson hides. Although the hides remain closed, visitors can now enjoy a leisurely walk through the wet woodland…

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Starling Murmuration News

As many of you know, the starling murmuration is without doubt one of the highlights of any winter visit to RSPB Leighton Moss.

 In recent years the murmurations here have taken place from the end of December till March and as we’d expect at this time of year, we are seeing relatively small numbers of birds on the reserve at the moment. This will doubtless change in the coming weeks as the number of starlings increase and they seek larger reedbeds to roost in.        

It is with great regret that this year we are asking visitors to try and visit an alternative local roost instead where possible and to think carefully before travelling to our site due to the difficulties created by Covid 19 and the need for social distancing.

The erratic nature of the roosts (the starlings often change the location of their roost and can therefore murmurate over different areas of the reedbed on any given afternoon) and the limited access for viewing at the moment means that we cannot accommodate groups of visitors hoping to see the spectacle.

The reserve itself currently closes at 4pm daily and all hides are closed, further reducing visitors’ opportunities to see the murmuration.

We also ask that people do not park on nearby roadsides in the hope of viewing a murmuration as this can cause dangerous obstructions for other road users and has resulted in police action in the past.    

We will be leaving the main car park open for those visitors wishing to remain on the Causeway after 4pm but please note that this will result in a walk back to the car park along the unlit road.  

Thank you for your understanding – and here’s looking forward to next winter when we can hopefully enjoy the sight of starlings en masse, safely and comfortably. 

Please visit starlingsintheuk.co.uk to find out where your local alternative roost is to visit.

In the meantime, we are happy to say that the reserve is open from 10am – 4pm daily, when visitors can explore the trails and view the vast reedbed from the 9 metre high Skytower! Our shop and café are open too, which means you can stock up on bird food, pick up some gifts or maybe treat yourself or a loved one to a new pair of binoculars before enjoying a hot drink and piece of delicious cake!

We hope to see you soon…     

Leighton Moss re-opens!

 We are all very excited to be re-opening tomorrow (Wednesday 2 December) following Lockdown2!

We will be open from 10am till 4pm daily – here’s a quick summary of what will be available for visitors to enjoy at Leighton Moss…

Car park open 
Outdoor, Covid-secure, staffed Welcome Point
Visitor centre shop
Takeaway snacks, meals and drinks from the café: card payment preferred
Most trails and Skytower open 
Toilets open

In order to comply with  Government restrictions, the hides will remain closed for now and we will be operating Test and Trace. Please note that this is mandatory for all visitors entering the reserve.

We urge you to follow Government guidance on non-essential travel and please stay local to your nearest reserves and greenspaces during this time.

When visiting us please do observe current guidance regarding social distancing and do follow all on-site signage.

We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Ready to Re-Open!

I’m pleased to say that we have some very good news to share – we will be re-opening next week, albeit in a limited capacity.

As you probably know up here in here North Lancashire we are currently placed in Tier 3 along with the rest of the county and this does mean that some restrictions will apply. 

 So, as of Wednesday (Dec 2) the reserve and the main car park will reopen but please note that all hides will remain closed until further notice (this includes the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides so the car park there will remain closed). Visitors will be able to enjoy the spectacular views from the amazing Skytower, which will be accessible.

We’re very happy to say that the shop will re-open – so please pop along and get all your bird food supplies plus feeders, gifts and of course we have a terrific range of binoculars and spotting scopes to chose from. 

The café too will be open for takeaways, in accordance with tier 3 restrictions, so you’ll be able to warm up with a lovely brew and slice of delicious cake or hot breakfast bun after enjoying time exploring the reserve footpaths!

We will be operating Test and Trace so please make sure you visit the welcome area upon arrival – please note that this is mandatory for all visitors going on to the reserve.

The friendly team at the welcome area will also be able to tell you which routes are open and which facilities are available as well as what to look and listen out for while visiting Leighton Moss.

 We do ask that visitors from outside the local area consider staying closer to home at this time. We don’t wish to encourage people to travel here unnecessarily and urge you to enjoy your local green spaces and nature reserves where you live.

We hope that things will ease up in the coming weeks, so please keep an eye on our website along with our Facebook and Twitter pages for details. 

In the meantime, keep safe and thanks for your invaluable support during these most difficult of times.

See you soon!

Jon 

   

      

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Breakfast with the Birds

 One of the more positive things to emerge from the first lockdown earlier this year was an increase in interest in nature. Restrictions on travel and calls to stay close to where we live saw many people discovering, perhaps for the first time, places within walking distance of their homes where they could engage with the natural world. For some, bird song seemed more obvious and wonderous, while others simply spent more time in their gardens or local parks and noticed the beauty of spring as it bloomed before their eyes. 

Now we see ourselves in a period of lockdown once more and as autumn tumbles into winter we can experience the joy that nature brings again. Whether we’re kicking around in an ochre and orange palette of fallen leaves or watching a high tide roost of wading birds on the coast there is much to lift the spirits during these difficult times.

One of the most rewarding things we can do of course is feed the birds. Whether you have a garden, a backyard or a balcony in a block of flats there’s almost always somewhere to hang a feeder or a fat-ball! And if you’re spending more time indoors, this at least allows a little bit of nature to come to you. There’s nothing better than sitting with a nice hot brew watching the local birds coming and going and taking advantage of an easy food source. Here at Leighton Moss we’re blessed with an array of birds that come into our garden area to avail themselves of the buffet on offer! Marsh tits, siskins and bullfinches jostle among the more numerous chaffinches, goldfinches and blue and great tits. Meanwhile blackbirds, fieldfares (photo by Mike Malpass) and song thrushes feast on the fallen apples in the orchard.

For many of us, the list of birds visiting our feeders at home may be a little more modest but it is certainly no less interesting! Even in my relatively small semi-suburban space I can expect to see coal tit, blue tit, great tit, robin, dunnock, wren, blackbird, collared dove and house sparrow on a regular basis while long-tailed tit, goldfinch, chaffinch, song thrush and goldcrest may drop by occasionally. I’ve even been blessed with waxwings!  

One way to share your sightings is by posting them on Twitter of Facebook with the hashtag #BreakfastBirdwatch. This RSPB initiative was initially launched back in March as we went into the first lockdown and it has been revitalised in recent weeks in response to current restrictions. We feel it is vital that nature can still be enjoyed by as many people as possible – it doesn’t matter if you’re a keen birder, a family or someone self-isolating, we want everyone to join in! #BreakfastBirdwatch take place every weekday between 8am and 9am – it’s a great way to start the day and who knows, maybe you’ll spot something you’ve never seen before! 

Jon

     

      

Brilliant Boost for Bitterns

 Despite the reserve currently being closed to the public, there is still plenty going on behind the scenes at RSPB Leighton Moss! 

Our wardening team have been as busy as ever, still catching up with jobs they were unable to do during the first lockdown as well as cracking on with seasonal tasks that are priorities at this time of year. One of the main projects currently underway (when water levels allow, at least!) is the mammoth construction of the large cell-bed in the south-eastern section of the main reserve.

This project involves the construction of a 600 metre bund, made from clay and earth, which will result in an overall 9 hectare cell area. There will be a sluice structure installed to control water both entering and leaving this cell which will allow us to manage water levels within the project area, independently of those on the wider nature reserve.

This work, funded in-part by EDF Energy and the Lancashire Environmental Fund, will produce ideal ditch and shallow pool habitat for eels as well as improving overall water quality by isolating the new cell from the main reedbed for much of the year. 

European eel is one of the fish species most severely affected by over-fishing in recent decades. This, combined with habitat degradation, barriers to migration (such as weirs) and reductions in water quality in many European wetlands and waterways, is having a major impact on the global eel population. Of course, eels are critical components in the food chain on a site such as Leighton Moss and are essential to the success of bitterns.    

 Our warden Richard Miller says: “The purpose of this dynamic project is to create a hydrologically independent cell within the Leighton Moss reedbed with deep ditches and pool features. This is essential, as reedbeds are transient habitats that will deteriorate without ongoing maintenance.”

He adds: “The key aim is to accelerate the rejuvenation of habitats at on the nature reserve for struggling wetland wildlife, particularly two threatened species – bittern and European eel – and to ensure the site continues to be the great wildlife experience that visitors come to experience and enjoy.  It is also an essential BETTER element in the principles of BIGGER, BETTER, more CONNECTED set out in the government white paper ‘Making Space for Nature’; principles which drive our efforts within the wider Morecambe Bay Local Nature Partnership area and the RSPB Priority Landscape, that encompass Leighton Moss and its satellites sites.”

Having proven highly successful at other wetland sites, this cell-bed work will improve overall habitat for bitterns and it should result in increasing the number of these scarce reedbed dwellers at Leighton Moss in the years to come.   

Reserve Closure

We’re sorry to announce that Leighton Moss will be closed to visitors from 5 November.

We know that for many of you, the reserve provides enjoyment and solace through these challenging times, so this decision has not been taken lightly.  

 In line with Government guidance, our visitor centre, shop, café and hides need to close through lockdown.

Many RSPB reserves are able to at least keep their trails open but currently the trails here are flooded, so we have taken the decision to close the site to visitors. As a public right of way, the Causeway will be open, but please be aware it is flooded.

Our car parks will be closed, so please be respectful of our neighbours and road users and don’t park on the road, verges or in gateways as it causes an obstruction for access and emergency services.

We’d like to thank everyone for your continued support and  patience. It really means a great deal to all of us here we can’t wait to welcome you back.

For the latest list of which reserves are open, visit http://bit.ly/ReservesCovidUpdates

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