As my train trundled toward Silverdale station this morning I was once again reminded of why I choose to use this form of transport for my daily commute. Just south of the station the line passes between our reedbed at Barrow Scout and the Eric Morecambe Pools and I always try and grab a window seat so that I can have a quick scan. From my cosy lookout, the scene before me was more reminiscent of the Camargue in Southern France; dozens of little egrets dotted the pool edges and shallows while a pair of spoonbills and great white egret added a further splash of the exotic. Multiple black-tailed godwits, a few greenshank and an avocet could also be seen before my brief viewing came to an end. Perhaps I should start keeping a list of birds that I have seen from the train - adding a new twist the idea of train-spotting... Great white egret photo by Mike Malpass
Not only does the arrival to Leighton Moss afford the opportunity to pass by these bird-filled pools but there are of course also environmental advantages to using public transport. This is why we offer non-members half price entry to the reserve if they arrive by train or bus and why we also give members a discount in the café when they travel by public transport or bike. While we may not be able to tackle the very real threat of climate change overnight, we can at least try to make a difference in the way we impact on the environment as individuals and I would encourage all visitors to think about visiting us by train, whenever it’s convenient to do so. We also team up with organisations such as Good Journey who promote attractions and venues that acknowledge visitors who travel by sustainable methods by offering discounts.
However one gets here, this is a rather lovely time of year to spend a few hours at Leighton Moss. On the warmer, sunnier days dragonflies appear in profusion; look out for emperors, common darters and brown hawkers amongst others. Butterflies too seem to be everywhere this year, no doubt helped by the much-publicised mass influx of painted ladies. Many of the flowering plants around the reserve are positively teeming with dazzling insects right now and it’s well worth taking your time between hides to enjoy the sheer volume of life busily going about its business! Painted Lady photo by David Mower
Ospreys are continuing to drop by on most days while otters too are being reported regularly by visitors. Bitterns have been putting on a good show and Lower Hide has been the most consistent site for birders to connect with these cryptic herons. Bearded tits too have been occasionally spotted, and more frequently heard mainly along the Causeway. Lilian’s Pool is currently the favoured location for mallard, gadwall, little grebe and coot. The ducks of course are all in ‘eclipse’ plumage so they pretty much all look alike as the males adopt female-like camouflage while they moult their feathers.
The wardening team have been busy (as usual) out on the reserve and recent clearing of vegetation around the Tim Jackson and Grisedale Pools means that the habitat will be far more appealing to passing waders, ducks and other wildlife in the coming weeks – which of course should also make it more appealing to birdwatchers and photographers!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group to keep up to date with all the news from Leighton Moss and if you visit us please be sure to pass on your highlights by either writing them in the sightings book or telling a member of the visitor centre team – thanks!
Jon Carter, Visitor Experience Manager
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