First of all, on behalf of all the staff and volunteers here at Leighton Moss I would like to wish you all a very happy 2020.
For many birders, this is the time to start a new year-list and our wonderful reserve is the place to visit if you want to add such key species as marsh harrier, bittern, bearded tit and water rail to your tally early in the season. Of course local birdwatchers will also wish to secure sightings of marsh tit, great white egret, siskin and merlin - and where better to see these otherwise elusive species? Nearby, the drake American ring-necked duck can be seen alongside scaup and pochard at Pine Lake while those wishing to travel a little further may seek out the purple heron just to the south of us (where regional specialities corn bunting and yellowhammer may also be logged).
Of course not everyone is desperate to tick as many birds off on their list as they can and for many, simply being outdoors surrounded by nature is more than enough.
A recent phenomenon is the desire to see a starling murmuration. Despite there having always been murmurations, it seems that we suddenly find ourselves in an era where this has become a 'bucket list' item - somewhat akin to swimming with dolphins (is that still a thing?).
When I was a kid, the sight of thousands of starlings wheeling spectacularly over the shore before going to roost on the Central Pier was largely, routinely ignored by the good people of Morecambe - many of whom probably thought the birds were a 'nuisance'. Later, in my adolescence I would witness clouds of starlings above Penny Street Bridge in Lancaster and then later, roosting on the communication aerials on the police station. The implementation of a loudspeaker blasting out the sound of an angry peregrine soon moved those birds along and now, after years of being mostly unloved and having suffered huge population declines, it seems that the humble starling has won the hearts of the general public at last.
And now everyone wants to see a murmuration! This is great news of course. The more we can do to connect people to the wonders of nature, the better. The natural world has never been in a more imperilled state despite greater awareness of the threats it faces, and our only hope is to enlist greater support from all quarters.
So, if you do fancy seeing the truly awesome spectacle that is the starling murmuration, for whatever reason, just consider why what you're witnessing is so special. And imagine a world without that amazing sight of 70,000 dazzling birds moving in unison over a stunning reedbed habitat. Then think about what you can do to ensure the future of such sights for generations to come. We all have a part to play.
Please contact the visitor centre or see our Facebook page or Twitter feed for the latest info on times, location etc of the murmuration. Remember, calm, bright afternoons are best - and please DO NOT park on the road near the Causeway. Park in our main car park and walk along the footpaths to the Causeway or Skytower to view. Better still, come by train and get a discount on a hot drink from our café to take down with you!
Happy New Year to all at LM and rspb and to all the visitors to LM that we know - have a happy birding 2020 …… and don't eat all the cake in the café before we get there lol
Happy New Year to you too Jon, and all the staff at Leighton Moss.
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