As the breeding season continues apace, we are seeing ever-increasing numbers of youngsters around the reserve. The pools are now home to pochard ducklings, crimson-headed coot-lets, mute swan cygnets and greylag goslings and an array of other fluffy nippers guaranteed to solicit the occasional 'oooh' or 'aahhhh' from visitors. The marsh harriers and bitterns are busy feeding their hungry broods - it will be interesting to see how many emerge from the nests in the coming weeks!

 The avocets out on the saltmarsh seem to be struggling a bit with most chicks having been predated soon after hatching; by contrast the neighbouring nesting black-headed gulls appear to be having a reasonable season with good numbers of comical looking chicks strewn throughout the garrulous colony. In other gull news, at least three pairs of great black-backed gulls are rearing their brutish offspring on the reserve. These enormous and highly impressive birds are pretty scarce breeders in Lancashire and indeed much of England, so we are delighted to have them on the site!

As we'd expect at Leighton Moss at this time of year, the warmer weather sees a notable emergence in dragonflies and damselflies. Broad-bodied chasers (pic by Dave Middleman) are among the first to be seen along with blue-tailed and common blue damselflies. As a result of this proliferation of large flying insects, we can always expect to see hobbies appearing over the meres as they twist and turn in pursuit of their favourite prey. These dashing migratory falcons are always a real treat to see here and it's well worth keeping an eye out for these summer specialities.

Spoonbills remain on site though they can be frustrating to track down, often keeping a low profile on the back of the far pools. I get great, if brief, views of them from the train most days as I head into work! Numbers have continued to fluctuate and at the time of writing there are two still kicking around.    

 Many visitors will recall the long-staying purple heron which took up temporary residence in our reedbeds back in 2017 (pic by Mike Malpas). Well, we have been visited by yet another but so far this one remains extremely elusive and may in fact have now moved on. First spotted in mid-May it, or perhaps another, wasn't seen again until a couple of reports came in last weekend from Grisedale Hide. The rare heron hasn't been sighted since and may still be out there, so I would urge any visitors to check those reed edges very carefully for a slim, skulking heron! Do let us know if you get lucky!

We have yet more guided walks coming up for those who may be keen to expand their birdwatching knowledge. Our Birdsounds for Beginners walks are now sold out but we do have two 'Better Birding' guided walks scheduled for July 3 and 17. Tickets are selling fast for these and pre-booking is essential. To find out more, please click here.

As always we look forward to welcoming you to RSPB Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve and we do encourage you to share your sightings with us either in person on the reserve or via our Facebook and Twitter accounts!