This week the Leighton Moss sightings blog has been written by two of our brilliant volunteers at Leighton Moss, thanks to Sue and Ann! 

The Bitterns continue to boom all over the reserve and are beginning to move around the site with some incredible sightings flying across the pools while searching for females. 6 booming Bitterns have been reported, they have also been heard ‘gull calling’ when individuals circle above the reed bed at dusk calling at intervals, possibly when they are migrating.



Bittern (A.Stupple)


As well as Snowdrops, the Blackthorn and Lesser celandine are flowering, the catkins are out and there are elf cups, jelly ears and other interesting plants and fungi to look out for.


There is an abundance of wildfowl across all of the pools, lots of Teal looking beautiful, Pintail still present, Pochard, Wigeon and Tufted Ducks are all showing well.

Coots are foot slapping, the Goldeneye amongst others are now engaging in courtship displays, a sure sign that spring is on the way.


Frisky Teal (J.Sneyd)




Goldeneye flushed by a Harrier (A.Stupple)


Otters are showing regularly from the Causeway and Lower hides.

Water Rails can be heard squealing in the reeds with occasional sightings.


Cetti’s warblers are occasionally showing themselves in the cut down reeds,

Siskin and Bullfinch are frequently seen in the woodland areas and feeding station.

Goldcrests and Bearded Reedlings are making appearances and Treecreepers are often seen around the reserve.



Siskin (J.Sneyd)


The Marsh Harriers are sky dancing and passing food to each other in flight which is a great sight to see. For those new to bird watching and to Leighton Moss the Marsh Harriers are birds of prey,.

Usually they would migrate for the winter months to places as far away as West Africa returning in the spring to breed. With our winters becoming warmer and a plentiful supply of food we were lucky enough to have five overwinter on the reserve. With spring in the air they can regularly be seen collecting nesting materials. Commonly there are four or five females and two males (they have more than one mate each). These stunning birds of prey can be seen daily from the hides and our nine metre sky tower which overlooks the entire reserve.


Female Marsh Harrier (A.Stupple)


Lapwings are arriving, Little Grebes are trilling, Snipe and Great Crested Grebes visible across the reserve. The female Ring Necked Duck is still appearing regularly at Lilians pool. Other rarities include a Barnacle Goose in with the Pink Footed Geese flock and a Green Winged Teal sighted on the salt marsh pools.


The path to lower hide remains very wet and does still require wellies.


Sightings from the salt marsh hides include Skylark, Peregrine, Sparrow Hawk, Merlin and Marsh Harrier, Godwit numbers are increasing and a pair of Avocets have arrived. Great and little egrets are also in evidence.


RSPB staff and volunteers take part in fortnightly bird surveys on the reserve and specific locations from Morecambe Bay right round to Jenny Brown’s point. The monthly counts are for the BTO Wetland Bird Survey (WeBs) counts and the interim count for RSPB Leighton Moss’ own records. 

WeBS surveys monitor the UK's internationally important non-breeding waterbirds. Wetland sites are counted once per month, providing data for population and trends in abundance and distribution. The network of sites legally protected for their importance to wintering waterbirds depends fundamentally on the WeBS counts.  

Habitat management at Leighton Moss has been considerably hampered due to the weather, reed bed cutting cannot take place when the water levels are so high. However other activity such as selective scrub removal in certain areas has taken place to open up them up to enable other plants and animals to thrive, for example the rare tussock sedges on the way to Lower hide, this work is carried out by a RSPB staff and volunteers, and is only possible thanks to the amazing support of RSPB members.

As Spring is upon is, why not brush up on your birdsong knowledge and join our Birdsong for Beginners guided walk, click on the link for more details. Birdsong for Beginners at RSPB Leighton Moss

Leighton Moss is also taking part in National Lottery open week – free entry for any National Lottery players, just bring your lottery ticket,  9-17 March 2024, more details here Free Entry at Leighton Moss (

Keep an eye on our events pages and hope to see you soon!