Tag: red kite

Leighton Moss Open!

 It’s been a week since we re-opened parts of the reserve here at Leighton Moss and it’s been great to welcome visitors back to our wonderful site. 

Due to access restrictions based on government guidelines we have had to consider which areas would offer visitors an enjoyable experience while considering their well-being and safety, along with that of RSPB staff. So, one of the first things we did was reduce the number of car parking spaces, ensuring that we don’t get too busy for people for to be able to comfortably make their way around on the paths. With the visitor centre closed, we are welcoming visitors near the garden at the rear of the building. Here members of the team can explain the routes and areas currently accessible to visitors.

It’s been quite a week for sightings too – ospreys, hobbies, marsh harriers, red kite and what was almost certainly a white-tailed eagle have all graced the reserve’s skies with their presence. There have been multiple reports of bitterns, primarily of birds in flight from the Causeway, while one particularly vocal male continues to boom on and off throughout the day! A little gull has been frequenting the reserve for around a week, allowing local birders to add this dainty and unseasonal visitor to their lists.

 On sunny days, dragonflies and damselflies have been out in force while keen eyed plant fans may find common spotted orchids in bloom along the path edges.

We’re operating slightly different hours to usual; the reserve pathways and car park are open from 9.30am-5pm only. Please note that there are currently no public toilet facilities available and all hides remain closed.

We look forward to welcoming visitors both familiar and new to Leighton Moss in the coming days and weeks, though we do urge you to stay close to home and to enjoy the green spaces where you live, wherever possible.  


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Little Surprise

Birders with eyes on the skies and ears to the ground will not be surprised by a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) report that raptor persecution shows no signs of slowing down across the UK.  Are we also shocked to learn that while…

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Recent Sightings & Connecting Young People to Nature

 While there are still a few bearded tits entertaining the crowds as they visit the trays, I think it’s fair to say that ‘gritting season’ is certainly coming to an end. As we’d expect by the beginning of November fewer bearded tits are being seen gathering grit and they become increasingly, typically elusive once more. As always, if you hope to see these dazzling reedbed dwellers, morning is best (as with almost all birds) and avoid coming on days that are windy or very wet.

Should you have missed this year’s gritting activity, don’t despair as these birds will still be present through the winter and can, with patience and luck, often be encountered in the reeds along the Causeway or on the path to Grisedale . Learn their distinctive call and you’ll be in with a good chance of finding your own ‘beardies’! Keep up to date with sightings by checking our Facebook group. Photo of bearded tit by David Mower.

Thanks to all of the photographers and birdwatchers who have passed on their information regarding colour-ringed bearded tits – this information is invaluable in the study of these rare birds and helps us better understand, and consequently conserve, them. There is still plenty of time to email us your observations. Please send ring combination info to johnwilson711@btinternet.com

Just as the bearded tit bonanza draws to a close so too does the red deer rut. Once the stags have asserted their authority and gathered their harem, things rapidly quieten down on the reserve. It takes a lot of effort and energy to bellow and challenge other male deer so once the need to do so is over the dominant animals wind down and concentrate on the serious jobs of mating and relaxing. The deer will still be seen from time to time as they stray from the sanctuary of the reed beds so it’s always worth keeping an eye out.

As winter continues to creep ever near, we also see the arrival of two Leighton Moss specialities; bitterns and marsh harriers. As most readers of this blog will know both these species breed here during the summer. Research has shown that young bitterns usually disperse in their first autumn and these birds are replaced by bitterns arriving from further afield. As a consequence, we can have many more bitterns on the reserve in winter giving visiting birders the opportunity to see them at any point on the site – cold, icy conditions can often be ideal for seeing these cryptic herons as they emerge from the reeds.

Following a successful nesting season our breeding marsh harriers and their young departed in late summer; some of these will have migrated to southern Europe or Africa while others stay here in the UK. Last winter we had five marsh harriers spend the winter months with us and already this year eight have turned up; it would be fascinating to know where these individuals spent the summer months!

 Other highlights in recent days include a couple of spoonbills which touched-down on the Eric Morecambe Pools on Wednesday (and are still present at time of writing), continued sporadic reports of hen harrier, a well-watched red kite, the very unseasonal garganey and the pair of scaup at Lilian’s. Added to this of course is the annual arrival of lots of wildfowl with numbers changing on a daily basis. Cetti’s warblers (photo by Mike Malpass) are becoming increasingly vocal and birds may be heard just about anywhere on the reserve.

As many of you will know, Leighton Moss hosts multiple school, college and university visits throughout the year. Engaging with young people is absolutely essential for the future of nature conservation and we are committed to connecting children and young adults to nature through learning. Here our Learning Officer Carol Bamber summarises the year so far… 

End of a busy season with high praise

It’s been another successful summer at Leighton Moss for school, university and youth group visits. Since April the team have delivered outdoor learning sessions to 70 groups, engaging with over 2,250 participants – that’s a lot of pond dipping, minibeast safaris, Living Things and their Habitats trails and sensory walks, as well as discovering brilliant birds, plus lectures and guided walks to degree-level students.

 Here are some recent quotes from participating group leaders:

‘What a wonderful day we’ve all had! So much learning that could never have happened inside the classroom.’ Reception class teacher

‘This has been an incredible child-led experience. You have ticked so many curriculum objectives in a very hands-on way.’ Year 3 class teacher

‘Thank you so much for the session. It was just right for our first visit.’ Specialist School teacher

‘As always, this was an excellent trip. Lots to see – pupils interested and engaged.’ Year 8 science teacher

‘Brilliant introduction to the RSPB and the wider conservation industry. Related well to the students’ aspirations.’ University lecturer

‘A really good evening and very engaging activities provided for the group.’ Cub Scouts leader

Wow! 99% of respondents on our evaluation forms rated our educational offer as ‘very good’ or ‘outstanding’. It’s a massive team effort, we thoroughly enjoy what we do and we appreciate the urgent need, now more than ever, to connect people of all ages with wildlife and the great outdoors in a fun and interactive way. 

If you are interested in booking an educational visit to Leighton Moss at any time of year, please contact Carol on (01524) 703015 or carol.bamber@rspb.org.uk

High As A Kite!

Hard to believe I didn’t get up Hawthornthwaite Fell this summer, the last and only time I was there was 22 April when I found none, but I derived great pleasure in finding 3 Stonechat at Hawthornthwaite yesterday, also a decent count of 22 R…

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A Few Days Away

We counted. This is our fifteenth time in Menorca. And yes, Menorca is that special. But it does get less quiet, much busier and more popular each year, and that’s why this may be our last.We left Joanne in charge of the house; well she is over 21. The…

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Creeping along

The Safari apologises for the lack of recent updates, inexcusable we know but we have been away for a week in a rather windy southern Scotland. But before we get over the border we’ve been on a few other safaris loser to home doing our best to add to o…

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Kites, harriers and bitterns

Hello bloggers, we’ve had a busy week here at Leighton Moss with lots of fantastic wildlife sightings to delight visitors old and young. 

I’ll start this blog off with the key wildlife highlight this week – a red kite sighting. The red kite was seen on Saturday 9 February and flew South over the reserve, last seen from Tim Jackson Hide. This was fantastic to see, as red kites are not common in the Lancashire area. Known for its reddish-brown body, deeply forked tail and angled wings, the red kite is another beautiful raptor which we nearly lost to extinction. The red kite has since greatly benefited from reintroduction programmes and now holds a green conservation status in the UK.

Male red kite. Photo credit: Chris Gomersall.

Next on the agenda is our starlings. They have certainly been giving our staff, volunteers and visitors the runabout in terms of where they are going to roost! At the moment their chosen place seems to be Barrow Scout Fields. Sunday 10 February saw an excellent mumuration over Barrow Scout Fields with an estimated 100,000 starlings present. The sound the often-huge flock creates as they come into roost can be likened to sea waves breaking. Add the rolling black waves of the starlings and it makes for a very surreal, impressive spectacle to witness. If you cannot get down to the coastal Pools, the Skytower is also an excellent place to watch the show. 

Moving on, there have been daily otter sightings from Causeway and/or Lower Hide. The mother otter has shown very well and has frequently treated visitors to successful hunting spectacles and all three cubs continue to do well. 

Bittern sightings remain excellent from Causeway and/or Lower Hide. As I have highlighted before, the reedbed channel on the right-hand side of the Causeway Hide has lent itself excellently to sightings of not only bittern but snipe and water rail. Snipe can frequently be seen in front of the other hides on the reserve. In particular Lilian’s Hide, where one visitor counted 30! The water rail down on the path towards Tim Jackson and Grisedale Hide remains in its not-so-elusive state with almost-daily sightings occurring. Listen out for their pig-like squeal calling out from the reedbed, particularly along the Causeway path. 

Bearded tits have also been seen and heard in the reedbed this week. Do keep in mind that the birds are residents of Leighton Moss all year so while not guaranteed, you may get some fantastic sightings out of gritting season. One lucky photographer took some excellent shots of a male bearded tit in the reeds, which he has posted on the Leighton Moss Facebook group. Around this time of year is when the bearded tits are scouting for potential nest sites, so this suggests there are many more sightings to be had in the near future!

With the recent work in front of Lilian’s Hide, a number of wildfowl and waders have taken advantage of the new loafing site. In addition, stonechats (males and females) have been seen searching for food in the freshly-cut area. This was a first for me and wow! What a handsome fellow the male stonechat is! 

Causeway Pool has also been host to a variety of wildfowl including up to ten goldeneye (some of which have been seen breeding) and large flotillas of tufted duck. A less-frequent visitor has been the occasional whooper swan, a beautiful addition to our resident group of mute swans. Look out for little grebes in front of Causeway Hide, their small size and whinnying trill make for a distinctive, albeit compact bird. 

There remains to be a good number of pintail, gadwall, teal, shoveler, wigeon and mallard who can be seen across the reserve.  

Male goldeneye. Photo credit: Zul Bhatia.

Speaking of Grisedale Hide, this has been an excellent location to sight our marsh harriers. There are at least five of these wonderful raptors on-site and they are also very vocal at the moment so do listen and look for them. 

Down on the saltmarsh pools is business as usual. There is an excellent variety wildfowl including goosander, red-breasted merganser, shelduck and hundreds of wigeon. Waders to look out for include lapwing, oystercathcer, redshank, and greenshank. We have also had frequent kingfisher sightings from here (often Allen Hide) and the odd great white egret

That rounds up our recent sightings this week folks. Until next time. 

Naomi. Visitor Experience Intern. 

Wedding Free Zone

I’m back from Menorca with a few photos and tales to tell. Click the pics for more sunny days from the Gem of The Mediterranean, 4th – 18th May 2018. This was our fourteenth visit to this the most beautiful and carefree of the Balearic Islands. P…

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Harriers take off at Leighton Moss

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…

Mad For Menorca

We counted. This is our fourteenth time in Menorca. And yes, it is that special. There’s very little blogging while Sue and I are away so I posted a few pictures from Menorca, both birds and photos of special places.

Don’t forget – “click the pics” for a trip to sunny Menorca. 

Mahon, Menorca

Es Migjorn, Menorca
Coffee Time, Menorca
Fornells village, Menorca

Cattle Egret
Turtle Dove

Egyptian Vulture

Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper

Menorcan Panda


Es Grau, Menorca
Black-winged Stilt

Cattle Egret
Greater Short-toed Lark

Punta Nati- Menorca

Audouin’s Gull

Red-footed Falcon
Ciutadella – Menorca
Serrano Jamon


 Red Kite


Menorcan Friends
More Coffee Menorca Style

 Back soon with more news, views and photographs home and away on Another Bird Blog.

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