Arthur became the ninth tagged hen harrier in three months to vanish in similar circumstances in the UK In November we reported that a rare hen harrier had disappeared in North Yorkshire, triggering an investigation by the police and the RSPB. This was…
Despite a mix of weather, from cold snaps to milder, wetter conditions here at Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay. wildlife sightings of some of our specialties remain excellent. The chilly snaps often freeze the edges of the reedbed, so we can expect (and hope) for great sightings from otters, water rails and bitterns.
Firstly, after a few days of absence, the great grey shrike reappeared in its favoured spot close to the Lower Hide on Tuesday 4 December. Perhaps my current favourite bird, the aptly-nicknamed ‘butcher bird’ is a rare visitor and arguably, worth the cold and rain to see! Just keep in mind that this bird does like to move and can be absent for long periods of time, it is a lucky dip (not to be confused with a birder’s dip!) when spotting this particular species.
The bitterns continue to show brilliantly, for the past week we have had daily sightings. These are predominantly from the Causeway (some lucky visitors had four sightings in a day!) and Lower hides but there have also been irregular sightings of bittern from Lilian’s Hide. It is a delight to watch the bitterns foraging the edges of the reedbed and also to see them in flight, their wing shape is unmistakable.
Bittern in flight. Photo credit: John Bridges
Visitors have also been treated to great sights of foraging water rail from Causeway, Grisedale and Lilian’s hide. With another forecast cold snap, perhaps we shall see slightly bolder behaviour from this otherwise often elusive species. A great white egret has also been present on the reserve, often seen from Lower, Lilian’s and Grisedale hides.
The marsh harriers have continued to provide excellent sightings, coasting over the reedbed with all the confidence a bird of prey of their calibre should exude. Marsh harriers often stir up trouble at the Causeway Pool (the panicked waterfowl are still a great spectacle when alighting the water) but sightings have been equally good from Lilian’s and Grisedale hides. Look out for a pristine male, two juveniles and two females.
Male Marsh Harrier. Photo credit: Alan Saunders.
Speaking of harriers, on Thursday 29 November we had a hen harrier (ringtail) hunting around the reserve. Interestingly, this raptor remained on the reserve for a couple of days before moving on, often we are only lucky enough to get brief visits of hen harriers at Leighton Moss.
There are good numbers of wildfowl on the reserve, most notably, a pochard was reported from Lower Hide on Tuesday 27 November and this pool is home to small numbers of goldeneye and tufted ducks that can be sighted daily. The drakes are in their best plumage right now, with lovely sights of pintail, wigeon, teal, shoveler and gadwall.
The Allen and Eric Morecambe pools are also worth visiting with a variety of waders such as redshank, greenshank, lapwings, black tailed godwits,and ‘sawbills’ on show; goosanders and red-breasted mergansers. The kingfisher is also showing very well, often with a dazzling flash of teal and orange skimming the pool surface before sitting on their regular posts.
Our smaller feathered friends are showing equally well, the bird feeder to the entrance of the centre is a prime place to watch bullfinches and marsh tits as well as nuthatches, chaffinches and great, blue and coal tits.
Non-avian activity includes regular sightings of our resident otters down at the Causeway Pool and our largest mammal, the red deer can be sighted from the Grisedale Hide and the Skytower.
We are always at the whim of the weather, so if you plan on visiting Leighton Moss do wrap up warm as it can get chilly in the hides. Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended our Christmas Market on Sunday 2 December and supported our local businesses. Despite the weather, the event was hailed a success with visitors and vendors alike enjoying themselves.
Until next time! Naomi.
Visitor Experience Intern.
As predicted, a weekend of Storm Callum made for several grey, wet and windy days and left no chance of a ringing session. During this time it seemed unlikely that many of our target birds had made it south to Lancashire through such unfavourable weath…
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Tragic that you can read about a colony of 900 pairs of Common Tern, said to be breeding on the shore between Formby and Ainsdale in the early twentieth century, they were being ruthlessly slaughtered by ‘sportsmen’. The colony was down …
WELL I’LL BE FUCKED….THE PLACE IS CRAWLING WITH SHITHEADS!Ian had wanted to join me on Wednesday, not a birder but interested in what we might see and any questions he might have about them. So on my suggestion we went into Bowland and did the Langde…
As the much publicised Hen Harrier Day, organised by Birders Against Wildlife Crime, fast approaches it seems ludicrous that in this enlightened age we continue to have major concerns about the welfare of wild birds of prey in the UK.
The RSPB continue…
The weather on Monday was perfect for another trip into Bowland, and an update on Hawthornthwaite Fell produced a whacking 10 Stonechat. Well it had to be ‘whacking’ as I don’t find that many Stonechat anywhere these days, though with two broods from t…
In our recording area the Ruff is no more than a scarce winter visitor, an uncommon spring but fairly common autumn passage migrant. Without records for 2016, an example of a peak count in 2015, was of six birds at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve on 29 August.
Little wonder the pleasure I get from finding the occasional Ruff like the one on Conder Pool 8 August last year, though a personal all time best count was of 14 Ruff at Norbreck Farm off Hillam Lane on 25 August 2011.
If you’d like a few minutes of pure enjoyment, take a look at the video of the Ruff at Turau Meadow below, even the sound is a treat to hear, turn the volume up and watch it full screen….You can skip the ad rubbish at the start of the video.