Marvellous marsh harriers and other recent sightings

Hello everyone, it’s been another great week of sightings for our regular wildlife and seasonal specialities here at Leighton Moss.

The marsh harriers continue to delight and they can be seen from all areas of the main reserve site and occasionally from the coastal pools too. Isn’t it amazing to think that we have 5 of these beautiful raptors here when in 1971, there was only one pair left in the UK? Our marsh harriers are very active, you can often see them gliding across the reedbed and scouting for prey.

Male marsh harrier. Photo credit: Alan Saunders

Bittern sightings have also been regular with all reported sightings this week being from the Causeway or Lower hides. Some of the recorded sightings have been of the bitterns in flight; they often appear seemingly out of nowhere and their striking silhouette certainly adds to the spectacle. Seeing a bird so closely connected to Leighton Moss is wonderful and the hushed reverence that falls in the hide when a bittern is present surely adds to it's magic.

Causeway and Lower hides remain excellent places to sight a variety of wildlife such as great white egrets, grey herons, snipe, goldeneye ducks, tufted ducks and regular flotillas of teal, gadwall and shoveler with handsome pintails present too.

Grisedale hide has been an excellent place for waterfowl sightings. Listen out for the lovely wigeon whistle and keep an eye on the drake teals who are starting to demonstrate courting behaviour. A male and female stonechat were sighted from Grisedale hide on Monday 17 December. Grisedale remains one of the best hides to watch marsh harriers. Tim Jackson and Lilian’s hides are both good places to spot snipe among the reed cuttings and waterfowl loafing on the small islands in the pools.

Curlews, oystercatchers and a black-tailed godwit. Photo credit: David Mower.

The Allen and Eric Morecambe pools remain excellent for waders and waterfowl. There are good numbers of redshank, oystercatcher and lapwing with a sparser number of greenshank, curlew and the occasional black tailed godwit. Waterfowl present here include shelduck, wigeon, goosanders and red-breased mergansers. As always, the kingfisher continues to show well in a dazzling flash of turquoise and orange.

Our smaller passerine birds are also showing brilliantly across the reserve. I am often followed by curious blue, coal and great tits and even some marsh tits have came for a closer look! I should also mention our brilliant robins continue to delight visitors old and young. As always, the Hideout is a great place to spot a variety of smaller birds (maybe some larger ones too). However the surrounding woodland and mature willow scrub make for great places to spot a variety of species including goldcrestsiskin, greenfinch, treecreepers and nuthatches. The boardwalk to Causeway is also a great place to hear and see redwing and the occasional fieldfare also.

Marsh tit. Photo credit: Richard Cousens

Non avian-activity has also been fantastic. We have had otter sightings on the ice on our cooler days and in our milder, wetter days otters have been sighted fishing from Causeway and Lower hide. The most recent sighting has been today (Wednesday 19 December). There have also been irregular stoat, red and roe deer sightings for some lucky visitors.

One final note is to highlight one BIG event that the RSPB is running next month which we have recently launched. That's right folks, its time for the 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch! Why not bring your friends and family along to RSPB Leighton Moss (or your nearest reserve) and get your bird identification skills into top shape ready for 26 - 28 January 2019. If you would like to learn more about the Big Garden Birdwatch check out our website here:

Until next time. 

Naomi, Visitor Experience Intern.