With work to the Eric Morecambe Pool now complete and water flooding the exposed mud, waders are starting to make the most of the newly restored habitat. Large flocks of redshank and lapwing are a rather nice spectacle of late. Amongst them, one may see several greenshank and the occasional spotted redshank and ruff have also stopped by this week.

Group of redshanks by David Griffin 

The Allen pool has been a great place to catch up with kingfishers where two were observed flying and remaining active during the morning early this week. Visitors have also enjoyed great views of little egrets fishing from here. Three little stint have been reported several times from the pools of late. You may even catch up with a ringed plover or two following several sightings in recent days. For numbers and variety this is one of the best times of year to visit the pools for waders. Occasional hobby and merlin sightings this week have been exciting additions to the variety of birds of prey on the reserve. It is worth searching the posts out on the saltmarsh for our resident peregrines during a visit to the hides.

Purple heron at Leighton Moss from Grisedale hide by Mike Malpass

The purple heron is still here! It has been here for approaching a month to fuel up for its long journey to Africa. How long will it stay? 

The commotion caused by the purple heron ceased over the weekend following its disappearance for several days – where previous to this it was last seen flying in to roost on the reserve on Friday evening (15). We thought it had scarpered, taking advantage of a clear night to continue its journey south, only for it to reappear this Thursday (21) morning at Grisedale. Your best chance of seeing this rare visitor is still to head down to this hide - its favorite haunt - and cross your fingers.

The seasons are changing. The longer nights are bringing colder dawns with a chill in the air and the chance of atmospheric mist during the mornings on sharp and crisp days as autumn approaches. Due to the unseasonably wet conditions water levels on the reserve are higher than usual with some standing water covering the paths to Lower Hide and the north of the reserve. All other paths are dry and accessible.

Bearded tits are back on the grit trays! Having filled up the trays our first reports of bearded tits using the grit trays came early this week. Since then activity along the causeway has become frequent with numerous bearded tits ‘pinging’ loudly among the reeds each morning. Several visitors have photographed them on the grit trays already. Pick a bright morning that is not too breezy and head down to the causeway for your best chance of encountering these unique and wonderful reedbed specialists. Please send us your photos of them on the grit trays so we can count their coloured leg rings. This helps us get a better picture of which pairs are using the grit trays. 

Male bearded tit on the grit tray by Mike Malpass

Otters have not disappointed us of late with some truly close encounters. A number of lucky visitors watched one cruising by right in front of Causeway Hide. Lillian’s Hide can also be good for otters and little grebe whilst at Grisedale Hide snipewater rail and a great egret may all be encountered. Marsh harriers can be encountered anywhere on the reserve including reports of them hunting over Barrow Scout. Cetti’s warblers seem rather vocal again with the Causeway and Grisedale areas, plus the path to the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides being regular haunts to listen out for them. Water rail may also be heard anywhere on the reserve. The high water levels are likely to have increased squabbles for territory making them rather vocal.

Otters playing by Phil Boardman

In the woodland and at our bird feeding station in the garden we have lots of visitors from nuthatches and marsh tits to greenfinch, coal tits and bullfinch. Don’t forget at watch their antics on your next visit as they flit through the trees and take advantage of the bird food provided for them.

Finally, sunnier days have been great for dragonflies around the pond and boardwalk with common darters warming up on the wooden boards and southern hawkers hunting over the field. Red admiral butterflies are fairly numerous on the reserve of late and the most likely butterfly to be encountered by visitors on a walk around the garden.  

Red admiral by Andy Hay 

Autumn is a great time of year to visit and there is always something to see.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Steven, Visitor Experience Volunteer