Following on from where my previous post ended, we are glad to announce that yesterday David Mower recruited his 1000th RSPB membership at Leighton Moss! As a token of appreciation, David awarded the couple with a lovely framed copy of his photograph of a perching male Marsh Harrier. David began recruitment in October 2014 some months after retiring from 27 years as our Warden, and since then has spent several days a week as a volunteer here continuing to promote the value of the natural world and the conservation work performed by the RSPB at Leighton Moss, across the UK and further afield . It is a remarkable achievement and contribution - well done David! And of course thank you to all those who support us through membership.

  David with the lucky couple

The recent period of glorious weather, heralding the imminence of summer, has brought a pleasant calm to Leighton Moss this past week. Though a short while back the booming ceased, we have been favoured with an influx of bittern sightings recently, which may prove to be a cause for optimism. The Causeway continues to host regular visits from ospreys straying from their Cumbrian roosts to feed, with particular individuals arriving from Foulshaw Moss. Likewise, otters still frequent this area and offer chances to glimpse them during their secretive fishing ventures. Notably, our scaup remains unruffled at the Causeway, and can still be seen bobbing between the tufted ducks, mallards and gadwalls. Two pairs of great-crested grebes call the pool home, one continuing to rear their young and another treating spectators to the theatre of their ‘weed dance’ courtship displays. On the central island a great black-backed gull pair persevere, and the canny visitor may catch sight of a female pochard with 10 recent young deep in the reedbed.

Marsh harriers remain the most visible (and for my money the most captivating) of our iconic species. We have three pairs on the reserve, and females at the present time will be brooding on nests. It is therefore males who will most likely be seen in the midst of the hunt, affording visitors views of their stunning aerial performances. Luck and patience may also reward slow amblers of the Causeway to a brief flitting view of bearded tits, who had young successfully fledge the nest last week. In addition, red and roe deer have been spotted from Grisedale hide and the path along to Lower hide, some guiding fawns through the willows and the reeds. All our warblers continue to fill the air with song.

  Red deer hind by David Mower

Moving to our coastal hides, the itinerant spoonbill, hithering and thithering between Leighton Moss and elsewhere, might still make an appearance for the fortunate visitor. On the banks of Allen pool 13 avocet chicks may now be seen, venturing out daily to hone their balance and to exercise their new-born curiosity. 15 nests remain to hatch, which with any luck this will result in a successful brood. Spotted in amongst these families and the vast number of black-headed gulls may be seen redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher and shelduck.

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