Spring has certainly been in the air here at Leighton Moss in recent days!

 Along with an ever-increasing number of chiffchaffs and sand martins we have seen the arrival of singing blackcaps and willow warblers this week. The sheer beauty of the willow warbler's wonderfully cascading song is guaranteed to warm my soul on even the chilliest of spring days! Not long now before our first sedge and reed warblers return to join the resident Cetti's warblers, turning the vast reedbeds into an increasingly cacophonous landscape. (Willow warbler photo from archive by Richard Cousens)

Meanwhile the marsh harriers have started nest building, once again proving that over-wintering birds get to pick the best nest sites in advance of migrants appearing on the scene. Until very recently marsh harriers were exclusively summer visitors to Leighton Moss but in recent years we have seen quite an increase in the numbers staying with us all year.  

Ospreys are back at their breeding site at nearby Foulshaw Moss and as we'd expect we are seeing birds here most days. Some of these will likely be local nesters while others are migrants, simply passing through on their way north.     

Bitterns of course continue to boom, much to the delights of many visitors. We have had up to six males booming this spring; a sure sign that the hard work that we've put in to improving the birds' habitat across the reserve has paid off. While they are typically most vocal at dawn and dusk, we do have a couple that are quite prone to blasting out throughout the day so whenever you come to visit you should get lucky!  

 Don't forget to look down too as you meander along the trails, you may see dazzling scarlet elf cup fungus hidden in the undergrowth, along with bright yellow lesser celandine and other early flowering plants! (Scarlet elf cup photo by Jon Carter)

Most of the reserve is now open to the public, along with toilets, staffed welcome area and takeaway café. The shop and visitor centre will reopen on Monday April 12, in accordance with Government guidelines, though the hides will remain closed. Please check our website, Facebook page and Twitter posts for updates.     

Jon Carter

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