The good news is, as I write this, the pathways to all hides are now accessible without the need for wellies. Water levels are still very high and it could easily change with the next downpour but if the forecasts are right, we should be okay for a while. Watch this space, check our Twitter and Facebook accounts or call the visitor centre for updates.
Green-winged teal by Mike Malpass
As we anticipated, the recent drop in temperature has brought more wildfowl onto the reserve and the best places to observe good numbers of dabbling ducks are undoubtedly the Grisedale and Jackson Hides. Wigeon, pintail, shoveler, teal and gadwall are among the most numerous species present. On Saturday (2 Dec) morning a fine drake American green-winged teal dropped in and showed reasonably well over the remainder of the weekend. It hasn’t been reported since Sunday but it may well still be around. Diving ducks are still at something of a premium, although goldeneyes have been around in small numbers and are best looked for on the deeper waters.
We still have three cattle egrets coming into the evening roost at the north end of the reserve. This exotic trio can often be seen in the company of the cows grazing in the fields near the path beyond Lower Hide or even from the Sky Tower. One or two great egrets are also being seen out on the saltmarsh and on the reserve while the ever-present little egrets can often be seen stalking around in the shallower areas.
Kingfisher by Mike Malpass
Kingfishers have been showing very well at the Eric Morecambe and Allen Hides lately, along with good numbers of waders and wildfowl. Occasional forays by hunting peregrines, merlins and marsh harriers over the pools and saltmarsh periodically cause a commotion as hundreds of birds rise into the air in panic – quite a sight!
Water rails continue to be seen, and particularly heard, as the high water levels force them out in to the open to search for food and the odd bearded tits are still visiting the grit trays along the Causeway.
Otters have proven to a big hit with visitors recently with regular sightings from around the reserve; Causeway and Lilian’s Pools are the most reliable spots but these wandering mustelids can pop up just about anywhere.
Starlings by David Mower
The starling murmuration is still a sight to behold – large flocks of birds pile in over the reeds in the late afternoon and can provide a great spectacle from the Sky Tower on calm, bright days. The best place to watch the pre-roost gathering is from the track leading to the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides car park, though please note that parking is not allowed along the track itself.
Visitors to Leighton Moss may have noticed that the bridge crossing Myer’s Dyke, near the pond-dipping pools, has been completely rebuilt recently. Despite the wardening team taking this task on during the recent downpour that resulted in widespread flooding, they managed to complete the job in just a couple of days. Impressive stuff!