It’s been a mixed week weather-wise, with some lovely crisp autumnal days, a visit from Storm Debi and quite a lot of rain. As a consequence, we have seen a significant increase in water levels across the reserve. And while we are of course a wetland site, there can be such a thing as too much water!
So much so that many of our dabbling ducks such as Shoveler, Teal, and particularly Pintail, have cleared out in notable numbers. These birds do not dive for food but surface feed, seeking vegetation and small animals within reach of their position on the water. As the levels increase, this food becomes harder to access and so many of these ducks fly off to such places as shallow wet meadows and saltmarshes to feed. (Shoveler pic by David Mower)
Even with a reduction in the number of birds, the spectacle of wildfowl on view from Lilian’s Hide in recent days has still been pretty fantastic. The cut areas that lie above the water level right in front of the hide provide excellent loafing and feeding areas for many ducks, along with Snipe, and visitors are being treated to great, close-up views.
If you’d like to discover more about wildfowl and how to identify our most frequently seen ducks, then watch the RSPB’s Identifying Winter Ducks webinar or book on to our Winter Wildfowl Identification Workshop on 8 December?
As well as the wealth of wildfowl out there, there’s been plenty of other great wildlife to enjoy at Leighton Moss this week. Bearded Tits continue to delight, though their visits to the grit trays are, as we’d expect at this point, becoming less frequent. Otters have been wowing the crowds on a daily basis as always, while up to seven Marsh Harriers continue to hunt and roost on the reserve. Less expected was a brief male Hen Harrier earlier in the week, followed by a female at the Eric Morecambe Pools on Thursday morning. (Hen Harrier photo from archive by Jon Worthington)
Don’t forget, if you’re coming for a visit, do check in with the welcome team for the latest updates and please also share your sightings with us either in person or by writing them in the sightings book. Oh, and with the high water levels, you’ll need wellies to get to Lower Hide at the moment – though the rest of the reserve paths are accessible with decent standard outdoor footwear.
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