The prolonged dry spell finally came to an end last week and we've seen quite a lot of water in recent days. Of course, we'll need a great deal more for it to make much of an impression on the vast wetland landscape of Leighton Moss! That said, the once-totally dry Eric Morecambe Pool now looks much more enticing for mud-probing waders and dabbling ducks and I'm sure the coming weeks will see a welcome return of those birds in that part of the reserve.
The 'omniscience' of black-tailed godwits continues to impress all at Lilian's with the flock reaching in excess of 1300 birds on some days! There really is nothing better than hearing that chattering sound of masses of birds as one approaches the hide. The water levels have gone up slightly here but there is still lots of ideal feeding and roosting habitat for these fabulous waders - and of course it is always worth having a careful check through the flock for other species. Spotted redshank, greenshank, ruff and little stints have all been spotted in the past few days. The visiting pectoral sandpiper (though now considered to involve a minimum of two different birds) stayed around for a few days, allowing many birders to catch up with this scarcity. Pic of godwits from archive by Brian Salisbury
As mentioned in our last blog post the bearded tits have started to use the grit trays in earnest and many visitors have had fabulous views of these wonderful birds. Both the Grisedale and Causeway trays are attracting the 'beardies' and given the numbers being seen it does look like these delightful reedbed dwellers have had a very good breeding season. Hopefully we will be able to recommence long-term ringing studies before long, this will help us to continue to learn more about the birds and their conservation requirements. As always, we ask that if you do see or photograph any birds with colour-rings on their legs that you please pass on the details to us (we would like the combination of rings, ie 'red over white on right leg, yellow over metal on left'). Thanks! Bearded tit pic from archive by Mick Walmsley
Otters have continued to put on occasional shows at Causeway and Lower - these wonderful mammals can show up at any time of the day so always keep your eyes peeled! Otter pic from archive by Richard Cousens
The Causeway and Lower pools provide some fabulous birdwatching at the moment with increasing numbers of wildfowl present. Many of the ducks are moulting into their winter finery now and as the weeks go by they will become increasingly dapper. Alongside the many shoveler, gadwall, teal and wigeon try to pick out pintail or even a late garganey. Look out too for the single whooper swan, freshly arrived from Iceland, who has spent a few days being harassed by the resident mute swans!
We appear to have at least two marsh harriers in residence, an adult female and a juvenile. It may be that we see more arriving in the coming weeks to spend the winter with us. I watched the young bird trying to catch little grebes earlier in the week while one visitor captured a dramatic moment when they photographed a harrier snatching a godwit from in front of Lilian's Hide. Similarly, a peregrine was seen to plunder the same flock with equal success.
If you're heading to see us this weekend don't forget it's our Binoculars & Telescopes Open Weekend! If you're thinking of upgrading your binoculars or fancy buying your first pair, our friendly experts will be on hand to show you our great range and to help you find the ideal optical equipment to suit your needs and budget - there's no obligation to buy, just pop along and try!
And don't forget, that you can keep up to date with all the news by following us on our official Leighton Moss Facebook page and Twitter.
We hope to see you soon!
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