There is no doubting the star attraction onsite at the minute, with many visitors enjoying their first views of bittern. Our dutiful female is still making consistent and sometimes long flights, to go in search of food for the young. At this stage we don’t know how many young she has, as we have not attempted to access the nest area, due to risk of disturbance.
Her long flights have seen her mapped all the way to barrow scout reedbed and back to the nest area near lower hide, often making quite high return flights, viewed from the skytower.
After around 15 days the young will become more adventurous and leave the nest site for short expeditions, as they clamber up reed and other surrounding vegetation, exploring their neighbourhood. Following this it is actually between 50 and 55 days before they fully fledge and become independent. So, plenty of time to come down and enjoy the stunning views of the busy female. (Photo by David Tipling)
Aside from this undoubted highlight, lots of other breeding activity is well under way. Bearded tits have been seen on and off in the Grisedale hide area, as they search for insects to take back to their hungry young, whilst above marsh harriers scour the landscape as they search for food to take back to one of the 4 active nests currently onsite.
Down on the Saltmarsh pools, our avocets continue to deliver their undeniably cute young, with still around double figure counts of young surviving the early stages of their lives, running the gauntlet of neighbouring black headed gulls, and even shelducks and oystercatchers have been getting in on the dark act and attacking some of the wandering chicks. Amongst the throngs of black headed gulls, a second summer Mediterranean gull has still been seen often loafing in front of the Allen hide. (Photo by Chris Gomersall)
All of our expected summer migrants are now back onsite, although more numbers are sure to follow in favourable conditions. Both reed and sedge warblers are obvious out onsite in full song, whilst blackcaps and garden warblers continue to warble away down the back path to lower hide.
Frequent visits from ospreys will only increase now that the first chick has hatched at the Foulshaw Moss Cumbria wildlife trust site, with the adults due to visit Leighton Moss everyday to catch food for their growing young. Plenty of other highlights abound out onsite with an on off Spoonbill frequenting the Eric Morecambe pool. Lots of swifts and house martins as well as concerning small numbers of swallows occupy the airspace above the pools.
A more unusual visitor for Leighton Moss, less than annual in its frequency, was a wood warbler near lower hide, passing through on it’s way to suitable woodland further North.
So, with glorious weather out there and more sun to come. I am still holding out for that dancing white winged black tern to grace our pools.
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