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...

Spoonbill tops list of recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Another mixed week weather-wise has meant that we’re not really seeing the best that spring can bring. Given the imminent forecast, that looks to change in the next few days. We’re still seeing (and hearing) newly arrived migrants but in rather low numbers. More willow warblers and blackcaps have now joined the many chiffchaffs around the reserve and we have continued to see the occasional swallow in amongst the relatively few sand martins but it definitely still feels like early days. On the periphery of the reserve, single redstarts and sedge warblers have been noted.     Spoonbill by Charlotte Cassidy Despite the lack of expected migrants we did have a surprise flying visit from a dapper adult spoonbill last weekend. This one-day-wonder was quite mobile and spent time on Grisedale Pool and at the Eric Mor...

Welcomes, farewells and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
One minute it’s cold and wet, the next it’s sunny and bright. Don’t you just love spring? The good news is that after those bitter easterlies we’ve finally had a bit of weather that has allowed a few migrants through. The past few days have seen more sand martins arriving (more about those later…), a few swallows trickling through, chiffchaffs in song all around the reserve, ospreys performing wonderfully for awestruck visitors and the first of what will presumably be many willow warblers. Swallow: copyright Chris Gomersall rspb-images.com Meanwhile, the great white egrets remain on site and are acquiring very flashy breeding garb (the optimists amongst us are hoping for a first nesting attempt this year), bitterns continue to boom and the marsh harriers have been nest building while continuing with their fan...

Preparing for spring and recent sightings

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
It’s been a busy few days here at Leighton Moss. Not only are the birds performing extremely well but so are the reserve's human inhabitants (ie staff, volunteers and contractors)! "Will this do?" Richard punts an island onto Lilian's Pool The provision of new islands has continued apace. Following on from the rather rustic platforms our team launched onto the Causeway Pool recently, two new islands were floated out onto Lilian’s Pool last week. Richard Smith, our versatile and endlessly energetic Estate Worker, not only built these platforms but also punted them into place, before turfing and graveling the surfaces. The rescue team arrive. Fingers crossed we’ll get some birds nesting on here this year, providing superb views for our visitors from the Lilian’s Hide. It's worth noting that Ric...

Boom time at the Moss

Posted on - In Leighton Moss (RSPB)
Immediately following the much-talked-about 'Beast from the East', things calmed down quite a bit and it seemed that spring was keen to forge ahead. Birdsong on the reserve has certainly ramped up a few notches; chaffinches, reed buntings, nuthatches, marsh tits and the like are all in fine voice, declaring territories and proclaiming their suitability as ideal mates for the breeding season. Bittern by Mike Malpass Most excitingly, we have had bitterns booming from two different areas of the reserve. One or two of these secretive herons have been seen regularly throughout the winter, mainly from the Causeway and Lower hides but thanks to their cryptic lifestyle it’s an impossible task trying to figure out just how many we have out there. It’s only in spring when on calm, clear evenings and some of the bitterns prepare t...