It’s been another rather unusual week here up in North Lancashire. We’ve had everything from glorious sunshine to the most extraordinary thunderstorms that anyone can ever remember witnessing! Of course with the storm came yet more rain – further hindering our reedbed work as water levels remain unusually high for the time of year.
But there’s always a positive! Those secretive bitterns can often be easier to see when there are fewer shallow and dry areas for them to fish in, so as the water gets higher across the reserve they will often feed at the reed edge. Also, they are potentially more likely to be seen in flight over the reedbeds as they seek out those more accessible areas in which to fish.
On the downside, many of the dabbling ducks such as teal and gadwall that were building up nicely have cleared off to find water that isn’t too deep to dabble in... some are lurking in the reeds while others have moved to other areas where they can access food more easily. Similarly, the lack of muddy edges on the pools means that we’re seeing fewer waders on the main reserve than we might expect at this time of year.
The good news though, is that we are working hard to get the Eric Morecambe & Allen Pools open soon. As many birdwatchers will know, late summer and early autumn is the peak of wader passage with migrating birds stopping off at favoured feeding sites throughout the UK and our coastal pools offer birders the chance to see good numbers of these fabulous birds at close quarters. And of course, there’s always the chance that a scarce or rare shorebird might just drop in to entertain local birders.
In other news, ospreys continue to be seen on the reserve on a daily basis with post-breeders and dispersing youngsters likely to be passing through and hanging around. We usually see an increase in the number of these ace fish-eating migrants around now and they can often be a regular feature of a visit to Leighton Moss from now right through till the end of September.
While ambling around, immersing yourself in nature look out for the profusion of dragonflies currently zipping around. Common darters, brown hawkers, common hawkers and emperor dragonflies are amongst those doing the rounds. And don't forget to look down too - I came across this fine fellow (left) on the boardwalk this morning; it's the caterpillar of one of our most impressive and attractive insects, the elephant hawk moth. What a fine beast!
We are preparing to open the shop shortly, so you will all be able to come and stock up on bird food, feeders and whatever else your garden wildlife needs. A selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks will be available in the shop too (the café will not be re-opening just yet). Again, please check our social media outlets or ask at the centre for updates.
If you’re planning on having a family day out at Leighton Moss we’ve put out a few little activities that should appeal to any younger budding naturalists that you might bring along – make sure you check in with the welcome team for details of what’s on offer.
The forecast once again looks a little mixed in the coming week but whatever the weather, you’re bound to have a wonderful time simply being outdoors surrounded by nature in an amazing landscape – see you soon!