With a not-so subtle change in the weather in recent days, it certainly is starting to feel like spring here at Leighton Moss. Many of the resident woodland birds such as song thrushes, blackbirds, nuthatches and marsh tits are in fine voice and can be heard all around the site. Cetti's warblers are tuning up nicely in the scrubby areas of the reedbed and our overwintering marsh harriers have even started to display. Look for their stunning skydancing high over the reeds.
Pic: Avocet by Alan Coe
Avocets have arrived on the Eric Morecambe and Allen Pools in the last week, pretty much as we'd predicted. With the very high tides however, the coastal pools are holding quite a bit of water and so these waders are best looked for on the outer edges of the pools and on the islands, often roosting with black-tailed godwits. As we drop the water levels, more suitable shallower feeding areas will become available - perfect as more avocets arrive to nest in this lovely corner of Morecambe Bay.
Despite the rather encouraging conditions of late, our team have yet to hear any bitterns. At this time of year the males will often make a low grunting sound as they tune-up in advance of proper booming, for which they are rightly famous. They were quite late getting going last year, thanks to the much-discussed 'Beast from the East' but we expect some vocal activity soon given the calm, mild weather.
The starlings are still murmurating. thought the numbers have gone down a little. That said, there are still somewhere in the region of 40,000 coming into roost most evenings, providing an impressive spectacle for the assembled crowds of onlookers. In the past few days the birds have been concentrating over the north western section of the main reserve, giving amazing views for visitors on the Sky Tower and particularly on the Causeway. If you are planning a visit to see the starling murmuration before it comes to an end for another season, please check with the staff and volunteers at the visitor centre for the latest information.
Another lovely feature on the reserve at the moment is the seasonal display of scarlet elf cups. This widespread but uncommon woodland fungus can be looked for along the path to Grisedale and Jackson hides. It chooses damp areas of the woodland floor where it grows in and around decaying branches, twigs and leaves.
If you're planning a visit to Leighton Moss soon, don't forget to check our events and activities page. It's also a good idea to join our Facebook group for regular sightings updates and you can also follow us on Twitter. And please, do share your sightings with us by writing them in the book at the visitor centre or by posting them on our social media platforms.
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