Tag: peregrine

Blog Post: Raptors rule the skies

Ribble Reserves blog w/c 04.11.19 Our new Ribble Reserves blog combines news from all of our RSPB Ribble estuary sites; Marshside, Hesketh Out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre providing you with all the latest up to date information about sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits! Ribble Discovery Centre The kingfisher continues to be spotted flitting over the lake, it continues to evade us in the centre however! Redshanks and oystercatchers are spotted frequently on the edge of the lake and over 30 mute swans were counted this week. Educational visits With #OutdoorClassroomDay today we thought we would look at our education season so far. This season since April we have delivered our learning sessions to schools and youth groups, engaging 1500 children. That’s a lot of mud dipping! We offer a suite of sessions linked to the Science National Curriculum and our coastal beach sessions also match the Cornerstones curriculum. We undertake sessions in and around the lake and gardens such as plant detectives and living things and their habitats, but one of our most popular sessions is the mud habitat study. Awe and wonder is rife in this session. Children have the opportunity to not only discover and identify the invertebrates living beneath this highly nutritious mud but they also have the chance to understand their wider relationship within the food chains and ecosystem of the habitat. The opportunity to use wide scientific vocabulary is there and this was commended in our Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Quality badge inspection. Brownies mud dipping photo credit Jo Taylor Our feedback this season has also been excellent with 100% of respondents stating their session was “outstanding” or “very good”. This is with great thanks to the huge contribution of our many learning volunteers who are so vital to our team. If you are interested in booking an educational visit at the Ribble Discovery Centre at any time of year please contact our learning officer Jo Taylor at jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk Visitor Centre and family events Our Autumn Explorer trail was very popular over half term with over 70 families taking part. The winner has now been drawn and will be collecting their family prize from the Ribble Discovery Centre this weekend. Well done! Shop Alongside our Christmas cards, wrapping and calendar offers there’s currently a fantastic 20% off 12.75kg boxes of Buggy Nibbles (R402649) and High Energy Suet Sprinkles (R403130). Normally £39.99, now £31.99 too. In our centre we sell a wide range of books, including some great wildlife identification guides and also a range of natural history novels. Great for that special Christmas gift. Ray, one of our centre volunteers has written the following book review for us: “This book is a must – sensitive, inspiring and told in such a way it gives you feeling you are being told a story by someone who genuinely cares. It is well researched and factual interspersed by humour. If you love birds, history or just a thoroughly good story then this is a must read for you. I would recommend this nook to anyone interested in birdwatching and the history of the conservation movement, anyone wanting a good read and anyone interested in the history of the Second World War.” Marshside Skies We have been treated to displays from a suite of raptors present at Marshside of late. Peregrine , hen harrier , merlin , sparrow hawk , marsh harrier hunt over the inner and outer marshes, often agitating their quarry into amazing evasive displays. The black tailed godwits below are were filmed at Marshside (Rimmers Marsh) keeping ahead of a peregrine. https://vimeo.com/371079332 Out and About A the days get shorter and the first few frosts reach in, the marshes colour palette is finding its winter hues. Dusk at Sandgrounders hide: Marshside Record breaking cows This cow broke the coveted ‘interference record’ – with an outstanding heavy scratch test of a freshly repaired stile …. 45 seconds is going to be hard to beat From the Web Visitors have been enjoying the nomadic band of cattle egrets as they move from site to site along the Ribble. These thirteen were photographed by Janice Sutton as they headed to roost. Its incredible to see this species increase its footing on the Ribble. Janice also caught up with the growing flock of twite now enjoying the saltmarsh. This image was taken by the pier, but they have been spotted at Marshside and along the fence line at Hesketh Out Marsh .

Wellies Still A Must

 The water has been sticking around since the last blog. It’s definitely wellie weather right now here at Leighton Moss, and if you come prepared you have the chance to see some great seasonal wildlife spectacles.

The bearded tits have been continuing to show very well on the grit trays along the Causeway and the path to Grisedale Hide in recent days. If you don’t have wellies, still do feel free to come and visit our café where we are screening live footage from a camera focused on the grit trays – so you may be able to watch these amazing birds while enjoying a hot drink and a slice of your favourite cake!

One of the big species to spot right now is the red deer. With the rut getting underway they are easier to see because the stags are forming harems and challenging one another for supremacy. The males can be heard bellowing all around the reserve, especially in the mornings and again in the late afternoon. With their magnificent antlers on display, they can provide great photographic opportunities. The best place to catch sight of these impressive beasts is from the Grisedale Hide (maybe after sighting the bearded tits?). Red deer pic by Mike Malpass.

Some of the other sightings around include otters, which are another firm favourite with visitors. These aquatic mammals have been spotted a couple times in the last week from the Causeway Hide. At least three marsh harriers have been seen hunting over the reedbeds in recent weeks. Usually this species migrates to Africa during September and October. However, a growing number of marsh harriers are remaining in the UK all year round due to milder winters rather than leaving and returning for breeding in April.

Other birds of prey being seen regularly include merlin, peregrine, sparrowhawk and kestrel – mainly from the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides. Visitors have also been enjoying great views of little and great white egrets, multiple species of waders and kingfishers.

 Wildfowl numbers continue to creep up with shoveler, gadwall, teal and wigeon flocks growing almost daily. Tufted ducks have increased too and have attracted one or two pochard and a pair of juvenile scaup. A rather unseasonal garganey has been present now for several days and tends to favour Lillian’s and Grisedale pools.  

Are you thinking about buying some binoculars or a spotting scope? Well on October 26 and 27 we are hosting a binocular and telescope open weekend. This will give you the chance to try out the optics you have been eyeing outdoors, so you know which are the right products for you. We will have our friendly, impartial  team on hand to help you decide on the perfect equipment for your needs and budget.

So, even though we’re a bit flooded, there is still a lot to around to see. We hope to see you down here soon, but please bring wellies for the next few weeks. We will give an update when the water levels decrease on this blog, the RSPB Leighton Moss Facebook group and Twitter @LeightonMoss.

See you soon! 

Charlotte (Visitor Experience Intern)

Autumn’s arrival and recent sightings

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 egrets at Island Mere, and the evening cormorants in the willow tree at Grisedale (whose dead branches jutting skyward provide perfect parapets for over 30 of them). The cyclone of swallows and sand martins at Lilian’s and Causeway, particularly at the close of day, are still entrancing. Visitors can continue to expect a modest gathering of greenshank on the island, and great crested and little grebes in the mere, at Causeway. Generally, Grisedale and Tim Jackson have been quieter of late, but are still an excellent place to anticipate red deer, and green sandpipers have briefly sojourned here in the past couple of weeks.

Roosting cormorants, by Richard Cousens

There have been noteworthy developments in bird activity witnessed on the reserve in the past couple of weeks. Our beloved marsh harriers appear to have dispersed from the site after a very successful breeding season (with two successful broods totaling 6 fledged juveniles), yet, for the time being, an adult pair remain at Causeway. There are now 3 ruff on Lilian’s pool, with 2 spotted redshank seen here at times but also at Grisedale and Tim Jackson, all these birds being in adult winter plumage. There have been good views of a water rail chick at Lilian’s too, dabbling and scampering around on the left hand side of the island close to the hide, with parents close by – other water rails can, with patience, be glimpsed outside Causeway and Lower. Up to 5 garganey now reside at Lilian’s, a couple drakes in eclipse among other female and juvenile birds; very occasionally a spontaneous, unanticipated outburst from Cetti’s warbler happens around the Causeway. Kingfisher sightings have been reported from Lower hide and from the coastal hides, and another solo bird, a lone common tern, has afforded great views of itself circling in front of Lower hide and perching on the wooden posts out in the water, perhaps beside a grey heron, black-headed gull or cormorant. So if you spot a common tern from Lower hide, be assured it’s not a plastic one!

Juvenile water rail, by Mike Malpass

On the 27th August, there were four ospreys seen together on the saltmarsh, with one actually venturing into the Eric Morecambe pool. Visitors caught sight of one attempting to deal with a huge seabass that it had landed. One or two ospreys have continued to visit Causeway, and though we can expect a declining frequency in their visits (with the young at Foulshaw Moss having fledged and preparations being made for southward migration) visitors still have every chance of spotting these marvellous raptors, perhaps with a little fortitude. Similarly, otters have made some remarkable appearances at Causeway of late. On the first day of the month, three individuals were spotted moving in the mere between Lower and Causeway hides. The previous Thursday one voracious individual spent an hour or so hunting in front of Causeway hide, and twice, having deftly obtained an eel, proceeded to devour it on the wooden island in full view of a captive audience, prompting a frenzy of elation.

Finally, a handsome anomaly was discovered at Lilian’s hide a couple of days ago, and seen again at Causeway the following day – a leucistic greenshank! Leucism is a pigmentation condition in birds which entails an apparent bleaching of plumage. This results in the striking and somewhat ghostly appearance exhibited by birds such as this individual.

Shot of a leucistic greenshank (centre), taken by Matthew Smith 

Since it can never be emphasised enough, I will say that this stunning variety in birds, not to say anything of the other wildlife on the reserve, reiterates the splendid job done by the RSPB Leighton Moss staff and volunteers, to conserve a special place which is vital and thoroughly appealing to wildlife,