Although the days still feel rather summery just now, we are definitely seeing increased signs of autumn around the reserve. And of course, one of the highlights of the seasonal change is the annual bearded tit grit tray festival! (Note: not an actual festival).
As insect numbers dwindle, the bearded tits prepare to change their diet to one of seeds to help to survive the winter months. It's difficult not to hear (and with a little patience) see 'beardies' at the moment as family groups bounce through the reedbeds 'pinging' away.
In anticipation of the birds' dietary change we provide grit trays; changing a summer diet of insects to a winter one of seeds means that the birds need to gather grit in their crop to help them digest the hard seeds.
By providing a supply of grit we can help them in this process while simultaneously allowing visitors to get the chance to observe these often elusive reedbed dwellers at close quarters. More importantly, we are able to monitor the health and success of the Leighton Moss population thanks to an ongoing colour-ringing scheme.
This morning the wardens were out cutting the area to allow a clear view of the grit trays from the observation platform that we created so that visitors can see these magical and rare birds.
Ordinarily, people pack onto this platform but with social distancing guidelines in place we are asking birdwatchers to be patient and to give each other plenty of space.
There is enough room for three people to comfortably occupy the platform at any one time and we expect visitors will be mindful of others and allow access to those waiting once the birds have been seen. We thank you all in anticipation of a great experience for all.
For the latest sightings updates, please check in with our welcome team upon arrival.
If you are fortunate enough to see or photograph any bearded tits with colour rings please pass on the colour ring sequence (both legs is preferable) by emailing Leighton.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
We are planning a series of unique guided walks (limited numbers available) to further enhance your experience of these stunning birds - keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts for details coming soon!
Elsewhere on the reserve the garganeys continued to tease birders on the Causeway Pool and the expected build up of waders at the Eric Morecambe and Allen Pools continued apace. Highlights included curlew sandpiper, ruff and greenshank along with huge numbers of little egrets and up to seven great white egrets. Kingfishers also put in frequent appearances as do peregrines but it appears that we may have seen the last of the ospreys for this year.
With easterly winds in the offing, we could be in for something out of the ordinary in the next few days so do keep an eye out for any oddities and do please pass on your sightings to us!