Author: Jon C

Baby Bitterns Take Flight

Absolutely amazing news from the reserve last week, three bittern fledglings were spotted down by Lower Hide. As many of the readers of this blog and regular visitors to the reserve will know a female bittern had built her nest to the right-hand side o…

Summer Has Arrived?

Two weeks into summer, the damp conditions continue but don’t let that put you off! Grab a rain jacket and some walking boots whilst great sightings continue across the reserve. The main story at the moment is the large number of young birds. Visitors can expect to see ducklings, cygnets, coot chicks, lapwing chicks and rooving song bird broods all around the reserve.

 Our female bittern continues to excite visitors with those long feeding flights across the reserve from the nest near lower hide. Whilst the gap between those flights has now increased slightly, it suggests that the size of her young is increasing. So hopefully we will get some amazing views of those young feeding at the reedbed edge sometime soon.

The four marsh harrier nests on site remain a hive of activity, with wonderful views of those spectacular food-passes and some of the females completing feeding flights in recent days. Suggesting those young are also of a larger size. In previous years the months that follow have allowed for some wonderful displays of their young taking practice flights, sunbathing and learning to hunt. Hopefully we won’t be waiting too much longer to see it all again. For those of you that are yet to see marsh harrier young, here’s a picture of what we have to look forward to from the reserve in previous years. 

Ospreys continue to visit the Lower and Causeway pools almost daily, on those feeding flights down from Foulshaw Moss. Kingfisher activity continues to excite visitors in the same areas.  Whilst the young bearded tits down by Lower hide have been providing visitors with some excellent displays. So I would definitely suggest a visit down there at the moment.

 The black-headed gull colony on the main reserve remains a hive of activity, with some excellent examples of nest building on display (especially on those artificial islands visible from skytower and Lillian’s hide). For those of you visiting the reserve in the early morning and evening, Red deer sightings continue to come in from around the reserve. Whilst earlier this week one lucky visitor managed to gain some excellent views of the tawny owlet which regular visitors to the reserve will have heard about nesting just along the path to the Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides. (Pic by David Mower).

Meanwhile down on the Allen pools, the black-headed gull colony is increasing with lots of gull chicks now on display. Whilst we await a second round of avocet chicks, with a handful of nests still to hatch. There are currently around seven avocet chicks and lots of avocet activity down on the saltmarsh pools. Non-breeding waders at the pools include black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits, knot and a few greenshank. Whilst a grasshopper warbler was spotted down along the path to the Allen hide (9 June) and a lesser whitethroat heard singing briefly near the carpark (12 June).

On the events front, tomorrow marks the start of our popular Binoculars and Telescopes Open Weekend (15, 16 June). There’s still a couple of places left on tomorrows (15 June) Singing & Ringing guided walk and for those of looking to improve your photography skills wildlife photographer Mike Malpass and his wife Jane will once again be hosting a Photographic guided walk on July 13. Booking and payment in advance is essential for both events. Please contact the visitors centre on (01524) 701601 to secure your place.

Lucy Ryan – Visitor Experience Intern

June’s Damp Start

Despite the often damp conditions, recent sightings on the reserve have continued to delight many of our visitors. The star of the show, our female bittern continues to thrill as she makes her regular(ish) feeding flights from her nest near Lower Hide. Keen photographers have been posting some amazing shots of this busy bird on our Leighton Moss Facebook group; do take a look. Recently fledged bearded tits, along with adults, have also been putting on a wonderful show from this hide, so it’s well worth the walk down there at the moment.

 Ospreys can be seen most days coming to fish in Lower or Causeway pools while birdwatchers have also been reporting plenty of kingfisher activity in the same area. Young birds are very much on show at the minute and visitors can expect to come across ducklings, cygnets, coot chicks and roving songbird broods all around the reserve. Meanwhile fans of marsh harriers are getting superb looks of both the males and females hunting and engaging in impressive food-passes.    

Unusual reports include the appearance of both a little tern and common tern on the Allen Pools during blustery conditions on June 3 – the former species being a very rare visitor here. In recent days there have been up to four Mediterranean gulls hanging around the black-headed gull colony at the coastal pools too, giving keen-eyed observers something a little different to look for. With lots of gull chicks now on show a visit to these hides is a must. Unfortunately the avocets haven’t had quite so much success, with those fortunate chicks that escaped predation presumably falling foul of the poor weather in recent days. There are currently at least seven avocet chicks hanging in there while a handful of nests have yet to hatch (these are likely to be relays by birds that had earlier lost their eggs or chicks). Non-breeding waders at the pools include good numbers of both black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits, along with knots and the odd greenshank. A pair of dapper spoonbills dropped in for a brief visit midweek but sadly soon moved on.

 Thanks to the awful forecast we had to reschedule our popular Singing & Ringing guided walk this morning; hopefully the weather will be kinder next Saturday! We do have one or two spaces available on this and other Singing & Ringing events in the coming weeks so if you fancy joining us please call the visitor centre on (01524) 701601 to secure your spot – advance booking is essential.

Bearded tit pic copyright David Mower

Cetti’s warbler pic copyright Jon Carter


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