Despite the drizzle of recent days, it's been a bumper fortnight of sightings at Leighton Moss. The dense cloud cover has meant that large numbers of hirundines are feeding lower in the skies; sand martins and swallows are regularly skimming the surface of the pools. The arrival of swifts to the reserve has been a sure sign of spring; they’re replenishing their energy stocks after a long migration. We can soon expect screaming parties in our towns and cities when they arrive at their nesting sites! 

The arrival of migrant warblers has been an exciting time to birdwatch in the reedbed, but, despite Cetti’s warblers being a regular feature of Leighton Moss all year round, this resident species has been stealing the show this spring. Cetti's warblers are notoriously difficult to see, but this year, visitors have been delighted with how bold and brave these birds have been, singing close to the path, unafraid of making their presence known. (Picture by Jarrod Sneyd)

Hearing a booming bittern at this time of year is a somewhat regular occurrence, but seeing these secretive birds is another matter. However, reports of sightings have become more frequent as they begin to make feeding flights across the reserve. This is a promising sign that there may be more hungry mouths to feed. We are also beginning to see evidence of nest defending behaviour. Staff and visitors were treated to the sight of an elongated neck darting out of the reedbed, in the presence of a marsh harrier, aiming for a peck to protect a potential baby bittern brood.
Now, if you’ve visited the reserve recently or kept up to date with our social channels, then you’ll undoubtedly have heard of the installation of our osprey nesting platform. Since the ospreys have returned from their wintering grounds, we have kept an eagle eye on the platform for any activity. Looking across the reedbed from the Skytower, every Great black-backed gull and cormorant that has perched itself on the platform has poked and prodded our overactive imaginations. However, at the end of last week, we were no longer just overcome with ornithological optimism. A lone osprey made itself rather comfortable on the manmade nest for forty-five minutes, delighting viewers from Grisedale hide! Whilst we expect it will be a number of years before we have any breeding activity on the platform, the osprey’s interest has been a real thrill for visitors and team members alike! 
And the exciting action continues down at the Eric Morecambe complex. Our godwit numbers are dwindling as passage birds move north to their breeding grounds, but there’s still plenty to see. In amongst the remaining black-taileds has been a leucistic godwit, standing out from the crowd with its striking coloration. Other spring wader sightings have included spotted redshank, greenshank, and ruff. Visitors last weekend were delighted to see our first recorded spoonbill of the year down on the saltmarsh - we hope there's plenty more to come! (Picture by Jarrod Sneyd)

Do let us know of any spring surprises you see on your visits!