The reedbed is bubbling with life at Leighton Moss; the arrival of sedge and reed warbler are filling the reserve with their chattering singing. These two warblers can be a little tricky to distinguish, but the reed warbler is more reliably rhythmic whilst the sedge has a more scattered, staccato song. If you need an expert ear to help you identify these tricky birds, then we have a selection of guided walks over the spring season. Our popular International Dawn Chorus Day guided walk will be taking place on Sunday 1 May at 5am, but you don’t need to catch the first worm to participate – our Not-So-Dawn Chorus walk will be running later in May from 8am.

(Image: Reed Warbler by Jarrod Sneyd)

The signs of spring aren’t limited to birds at Leighton Moss.  Orange tip, brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies can be seen fluttering about the reserve, bringing about the promise of summer weather.  Otters are frequently being seen from Causeway and Lower hides at present, although seemingly a different animal from the reports of a few weeks ago. Up until recent weeks, we were hearing regular reports of a mum and two (rather overgrown) kits. The past week, however, a dog otter has shown up on the scene and is treating visitors to great views as he dips and dives in the pool.

 Whilst taking in the view from these two hides, it’s clear to see that our wintering wildfowl numbers are now dwindling, however a real rarity was spotted from the Causeway at the beginning of the week. A female ring-necked duck was seen in amongst a group of tufted ducks. This North American species is an uncommon sight in in the UK, so make sure to scan through the female ducks to add another tick to your Leighton list. The garganey pairs mentioned in previous blogs can also still be seen scattered about the site; these quiet ducks are mostly seen dabbling at the reed edge. (Image of ring-necked duck by Jarrod Sneyd)

Whilst the sun has been shining most of the time, the intermittent rain showers have presented the perfect opportunity to see sand martins. Large numbers of these hirundines have been seen flitting over the meres in time of dense cloud cover, with the occasional swallow swooping through the flock. Speaking of aerial feeding birds, we anticipate the arrival of the swifts in the next week or two – a sure sign that summer is on its way.

Ospreys are becoming a daily occurrence at Leighton Moss, often seen fishing over Causeway; however over recent days, they have been spotted circling over near Grisedale hide – perhaps they could be eyeing our new nest platform as a potential plot for bringing up their future broods. A sure sign of osprey presence is a disturbance of the gulls on the reserve; keep your eyes to the sky at the sight of of our black headed colony taking to the wing.

Spring is a superbly exciting time at Leighton Moss! If you are visiting please do make sure to record your spots in our Recent Sightings book and report back to our Welcome desk. You just never know what might appear next...