Autumn’s arrival and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Autumn has arrived at Leighton Moss, and promises a period of cool transformation following one of the hottest summers on record. In the coming months the intrigue and enticement of migration movements through Morecambe Bay and the main sight itself will be realised in the dramatic increase in wintering waterfowl and wader numbers. There has been an unbroken continuity to much of the wildlife activity on the reserve, outlined in my previous blog, which nevertheless includes some exceptional natural spectacles. Substantial flocks of waders (black-tailed godwits, redshanks, or lapwings) still engage in their cycles of alighting, dwelling, and departing - occasionally prompted by a peregrine - and confront visitors with nature's magnitude. Bird roosts are still a treasure to watch, notably 90 little egrets and now 3 great white e...

Recent summer sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
As the unprecedented heatwave continues, the wildlife at Leighton Moss finds itself having to adjust to the changing conditions. Water levels are dropping rapidly, both on the saltmarsh pools and on the main reserve. This of course, presents nature with challenges. For many songbirds drinking water is becoming a little more difficult to find and so we are regularly checking the fresh water around the feeders to ensure a constant supply. This is something we would definitely recommend everyone does in their garden during this dry spell - a lack of water can spell disaster for recently fledged young birds. Starlings bathing and drinking (copyright Jodie Randall rspb-images.com) The warm sunny days have been fantastic for observing dragonflies and damselflies. Impressive brown hawkers, common hawkers and broad-bodied chasers are among the mos...

Bitterns on show & other recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
The prolonged dry and warm spell is certainly proving popular with visitors to Leighton Moss and many people are getting great views of some of our seasonal specialities. The female bittern has been putting on a good, if somewhat sporadic, show. She regularly flies from the reed bed out to Barrow Scout giving people in Lilian’s Hide, on the Skytower or in Grisedale Hide fabulous views. We can assume that the bittern chicks have now left the nest and are at large in the reeds - the mother bird is heading off to catch food in a preferred area and returning to feed her growing youngsters. This behaviour will likely stop once the young start to hunt for themselves and so we’ll be back to scanning the reed edges for foraging bitterns. It really has been fantastic hearing the many delighted visitors telling us of their bittern encount...

Brief update on recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Sightings of our mother bittern have been increasing lately, a tantalising prospect for all visitors. These regular flight paths now seem to cross from her nest (located close to the main dyke behind Lillian’s pool) past the front of Grisedale hide and on towards Barrow Scout, one of our satellite sites situated close to the Morecambe and Allen pools. Grisedale and the Skytower have been affording lucky visitors with excellent vistas of these classic ‘food flights’. Hundreds of young birds on the reserve continue to soar closer to adulthood. The clamour of fledglings can be heard from most paths, with young warblers and tits especially noticeable. Causeway hide remains an ideal setting for watching waterfowl younglings, with two pochard broods still showing well (one totaling 10, the other with 8) and numerous gadwall...

Struggling

The Safari is struggling to put finger to keyboard at the moment. It's not that we've had nowt to tell you about as we've been doing loads but we've also had serious family issues taking up a lot of our time.For a quick catch-up we've moved our birds year list up to 166, the last one added being some Bearded Tits at Leighton Moss last weekend on a visit with our Southside mates.Our Photo Year List Challenge has come on a bit as well, as would be expected in May with many new migrants fresh in from their winter sojourn. Moving our tally up to 144Tree PipitSiskin The two above were found on an early morning visit to Beacon Fell near PrestonA better Siskin taken at a private nature reserve in the southern part of the Lake DistrictRook taken at the well worth a visit Kelpies at Falkirk in central Scotland A visit to the tern colony at...
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Nature’s nursery and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
As we move deeper into Summer, there’s no better time to witness the charming evidence of Leighton Moss as a grand nursery for nature. It’s pleasing to see this wealth of new life so visible across the reserve, undefeated by early Spring’s disastrous weather. Without falling prey to sentimentality, there’s something to cherish in the sight of these intrepid younglings embarking upon the lives ahead of them. Mute swan cygnets and greylag goslings are growing up fast, but still paddle after their parents across the pools and along the dykes. Tim Jackson and Grisedale pools are brimming with mallard and gadwall ducklings - on the path between them, a family of treecreepers might be spotted. Despite their diffidence during this season, a family of bearded tits have shown themselves at times skirting the fringes of the Ca...

Membership milestone and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Following on from where my previous post ended, we are glad to announce that yesterday David Mower recruited his 1000th RSPB membership at Leighton Moss! As a token of appreciation, David awarded the couple with a lovely framed copy of his photograph of a perching male Marsh Harrier. David began recruitment in October 2014 some months after retiring from 27 years as our Warden, and since then has spent several days a week as a volunteer here continuing to promote the value of the natural world and the conservation work performed by the RSPB at Leighton Moss, across the UK and further afield . It is a remarkable achievement and contribution - well done David! And of course thank you to all those who support us through membership.  David with the lucky couple The recent period of glorious weather, heralding the imminence of summer, ...

New arrivals and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
We had a few more somewhat tardy migrants show up this week; garden warbler, redstart and common whitethroat plus the number of sedge and reed warblers increased notably. Similarly more sand martins, swallows and swifts were noted but still not really in the numbers we'd expect by now. The weather forecast for the next couple of days at least looks promising so hopefully we'll see that influx that we're all waiting for!  Common whitethroat by Mike Malpass Adding to that air of spring was the appearance of our first coot chicks, mallard ducklings and great crested grebes in recent days. The grebes in particularly have been entertaining the crowds, nesting right in from of the Causeway Hide and allowing birders and photographers to get great views. This hide, along with Lower Hide have continued to be the most reliable locat...

Scaup scoop & other recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
There can few sights more uplifting than the first glimpse of the year of that distinctive scythe-like master of the air, the swift. We all rejoice when the swallows return of course, but there’s something really powerful about those dark, dashing alien birds who are almost as detached from our world as it’s possible for a bird to be. During the last week ones and twos have appeared on the reserve, usually just ahead of a menacing grey cloud and an attendant downpour. But now multiple swifts can be seen daily, particularly in the late afternoon when they swoop over the reed beds and meres alongside sand martins, swallows and house martins. For me they are the true symbol of summer and hearing their screams as they pursue one another over our urban landscapes is a thrill I will never tire of. Swift by Chris Gomersall (rspb-...

Delicious flava & Welsh ospreys

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Now that the weather is a little more settled, for a few days at least, we’re hoping to see an influx of delayed migrants here at Leighton Moss. As I write this an increase in recent sightings of sedge and reed warblers is already evident and several birds are belting it out from the reedbeds around the reserve. Meanwhile the sound of blackcaps, willow warblers, chiffchaffs and Cetti’s warblers is an almost constant feature as one wanders along the trails. Our foghorn-in-residence, the very vocal male bittern continues to boom away from his patch of reeds to the south of the Causeway. Although most easily heard between dusk and dawn, the song of this particular bird is often heard at random times of the day allowing many visitors the chance to hear this evocative sound. There was some excitement last week following the surp...