It's been a wonderful couple of weeks for those visiting the reserve in the hope of seeing bitterns! Now that their eggs will have hatched, the females are making regular feeding fights - leaving the nests to go and stock up on fish with which to feed the growing youngsters. These flights can be seen just about anywhere on the reserve and all one needs is a little patience, and a dash of luck! Thankfully the birds often make lengthy flights and often at height so they can be relatively easy to spot and follow, providing an opportunity to get pretty great looks at what can often be a tricky bird to see well. At this time of year the males will also get up and have a fly around and it isn't unusual to spot two birds interacting with one another above the reedbeds. (Bittern pic by Jarrod Sneyd)

Another seasonal favourite is of course the osprey and we're certainly getting more than our fair share of the action from these fab fish-eating raptors. Nearby breeders from Foulshaw Moss and the like have been making regular sorties to the reserve while non-breeding birds have also been popping by to check out our nest platform. Following the exciting news of an osprey spending a good 45 minutes on the platform a couple of weeks ago (see our earlier blog post here) there have been one or two further fly-bys and attempted landings - the latter being thwarted by the great black-backed gulls which have now laid eggs in the artificial nest! The ospreys will have get in early next year if they want to secure this prime piece of real-estate! (Osprey pic by Steve Heffernan)

Meanwhile, our ever-popular otters continue to prove a hit with visitors and at least two animals have been seen frequently at Causeway and Lower pools. Mornings do seem to be the best time to see these enigmatic mammals as they fish in the meres for eels but they can, and do, occur at any time of day so it's always worth keeping an eye out for them.

 At this time of year, we expect to see and hear lots of baby birds around the reserve and the grim reality is that many of these chicks provide essential food for other wildlife here at Leighton Moss. Whether they are black-headed gulls, coots, ducklings, blue tits or avocet chicks there will always be a percentage that will feed growing predators and one of the most spectacular sights here in the breeding season is a marsh harrier food-pass. If you try not to look too carefully at the unfortunate item being tossed from the male to the female, it really is a fabulous bit of behaviour to witness. 

It's been pretty quiet on the less-than-common visitors front so far this spring but there is still time for something a little unusual to turn up. The only 'scarce-ish' bird of note to drop in lately has been a dainty little gull which spent a few days amongst a mass of black-headed gulls hawking for hatching flies over the pools at Causeway and Lower earlier in the week. The coming weeks should see the emergence of dragonflies (one or two have already been reported along with damselflies) and as the numbers increase we can hope to see hobbies hunting over the reserve. If you do visit us and you do see something a little out of the ordinary, please be sure to let us know either in person at the Visitor Centre or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.    

And if you wish to find out what guided walks and other events we have planned for the weeks ahead, please click here. We hope to see you soon!

                                      

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