Sue is back with the latest recent sightings blog for Leighton Moss. Enjoy.

There was much excitement on the reserve last week when we had a very rare visit from a Caspian Tern seen at Lower Hide. The Caspian Tern is a very rare migrant from eastern and southern Europe, the last visit we had from one here at RSPB Leighton Moss was in June 2017 and before that 2005! There are approximately five sightings per year of these terns in the UK! We were very excited to have one passing through Leighton Moss and even more excited that our Site Manager Jarrod Sneyd managed to photograph this rare visitor (see photo below). The regal Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, easily recognised by its brilliant red fish-knife of a bill and a deep raspy call. Found all over the world, the Caspian favours both freshwater and saltwater environments. It feeds mostly on fish, captured in nimble aerial dives.


Caspian Tern - pic from Jarrod Sneyd

As we come towards the end of the breeding season, we are excited to see this year's Marsh Harriers fledging. It can be quite entertaining watching them learning to perfect take-off and landing!  We have four possibly five juveniles practicing their hunting skills across the reserve. Come along and see if you can spot them hunting over the reed beds.


Over at the Eric Morecambe and Allen Hides there are an abundance of Waders!  On Wednesday a pair of Common Tern were seen mating from the Eric Morecambe Hide. A pair of Little Ringed Plover have been seen on both the Eric Morecambe pool and the Allen pool. Why not pop over and see if you can spot them amongst the Black Headed Gulls! Spoonbills have been dropping in occasionally along with a Little Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls. A Sandwich Tern was reported this week too from the Eric Morecambe Hide. At the last count there were around 75 Avocets and at least 13 Avocet chicks with four fledging on Thursday on the Eric Morecambe pool. Take a walk or drive over from the main reserve to see these beautiful, graceful birds and the other wonderful waders that are visiting and roosting at the Eric Morecambe and Allen pools.


Avocets and chicks - pic from Jarrod Sneyd

Elsewhere on the reserve the last Bittern Boom was heard on the 26 June, this is the latest boom we think we’ve had at Leighton Moss! Come along and see if you can spot the females on their feeding flights, the young will be fledging soon! As you wander around the reserve listen out for the warblers singing in the woodland areas and in the reeds.  Why not come along to our next Birdsong for Beginners Guided Walk on Sunday 7 July (7.30am - 9.30am) Whether you are new to birdwatching or relatively experienced you can expand your knowledge on this entertaining guided walk aimed at helping improve your identification skills! Pre-booking is essential. Birdsong for Beginners


Elanor from the Wardens team has reported on some of the upcoming work the team will be tackling towards the end of July.

July at RSPB Leighton Moss marks the time for the summer reed cut. During the last two full weeks of the month, the Warden team, assisted by their determined and committed volunteers, work most days across the reserve selectively cutting reeds. There are several reasons we carry out this work:

  • to encourage what we call a mosaic sward for years to come. A mosaic sward means varying heights of vegetation.
  • to give visitors better views from the hides and at some points along the footpaths.
  • we keep some areas of taller vegetation for the wildlife needing refuge.
  • we aim to conserve areas with a wider range of plant species to encourage pollinators.

Variation in the height and type of vegetation means we get more variation in wildlife species, making Leighton Moss great for wildlife and for those of us who enjoy watching it. 

The volunteers create piles of the cut reed on the edges of the water line. This provides excellent areas for wildfowl in the autumn who can feed as well as sleep on the insect-rich mounds.


Warden using brushcutter to cut reed

Are you enjoying the lighter evenings, why not make the most of long days and stay till dusk to try and spot the Barn Owls, Red Deer and Bats. Join in on our next Dusk Discoveries Wildlife Walk on Wednesday 24 July (8.30pm-10.30pm).                                               Experience the magic of Leighton Moss at dusk on this relaxed evening guided walk. We will look for the birds of the wetland and those coming to roost. Some of the Reserve’s mammal species will be emerging to feed. We will hope to see Deer and we will take Bat detectors to help us identify some of the Bat species that emerge after sunset. Pre-booking is essential. Dusk Discoveries Wildlife Walk


A reminder that we have our Nature Tots activities on Wednesday 10 July (10.30-1.30).     Most suitable for children aged 2 years and upwards but you can bring along younger ones if you wish. Whatever the weather, come along dressed ready for being outdoors and engaging in activities and playing games surrounded and inspired by nature! Pre-booking is essential. Nature Tots

For families we have our Wildlife Family Trail daily from 9.30am Pick up a FREE quiz sheet from the Welcome Team and follow the trail to find out interesting ideas and facts. Free activity – normal reserve admission applies.

Do you like reading and Art? A date for your diaries - Book Cycle and Art Fair Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July (10am-4pm) An Opportunity to shop our complete collection of over 200 pre-loved nature, wildlife and bird books. Also available will be pictures/prints and collectable pin badges.

The three Trampers (all terrain mobility scooters) are proving very popular for our visitors with limited mobility, make sure to give the Retail Team a call (01524 701601) to check availability for your visit and book one in advance. There is no charge for the hire of these vehicles although any donations are welcome.