It's certainly been a period of change here in the last week or so; one minute it's cracking the proverbial flags, the next it's overcast and muggy. And there is now more than a hint of autumn across the landscape here in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. Leaves are starting to fall, the reeds are changing colour, the evenings are a little cooler and every day, dusk approaches that wee bit sooner.
Of course autumn is a great time to be exploring all things nature and there's nowhere better than Leighton Moss in which to indulge the senses! The light is noticeably different, the scents of the woodlands and wetlands are somehow more earthy and the sounds of the outdoors are increasing after a mid-summer lull.
Many of our breeding migrant birds are now long gone, making their epic voyages across continents to warmer wintering grounds. Meanwhile those from further north are still moving through as they head south with new arrivals dropping by on a daily basis. Wildfowl numbers are increasing daily with the pools positively thrumming with gadwall, teal, shoveler (photo by Jarrod Sneyd) and mallard. Scanning through the mass of moulting ducks one may find a few wigeon or an occasional pintail - a taste of what's yet to come!
Out on Lilian's Pool the constant chatter of black-tailed godwits welcomes visitors as they climb the Skytower or sit in Lilian's Hide. Up to 600 godwits can be seen here most days - quite a sight! Alongside these impressive waders can be scores of little egrets fishing among a handful of grey herons and great white egrets. Check the reed edges carefully, you never know when a bittern might appear!
At this time of year we start to hear more sounds form the reedbeds as water rails become more vocal, as do the secretive Cetti's warblers.
But if there is one bird sound that encapsulates autumn for many visitors to Leighton Moss it is the distinctive 'pinging' of bearded tits. The warden team and former warden David Mower (pictured right) have been busy preparing the grit trays in advance of the bearded tits' change of food - the insect-rich diet of summer will give way to one of reed seeds in the coming weeks and the birds take on volumes of grit to help grind up the seeds. While some birds will visit the grit trays during September the peak of activity is usually in October and November.
If you'd like to join one of our exclusive bearded tit guided walks - where we will seek out the elusive birds while discovering amazing facts about these striking reedbed dwellers - please click on this link and book your place: Brilliant Bearded Tits. Numbers are strictly limited and these walks will fill up fast!
We hope to see you soon!
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