Leighton Moss 09.06.15

Overcast at first, increasingly sunny later with little or no wind A slightly depleted team gathered in the car park at the appointed hour at the start of what proved to be a good day’s birding. After a briefing from one of the Visitor Centre staff we made first for the Lilian Hide from where we enjoyed good views of at least two of the magnificent Marsh Harriers that are now resident on the reserve. Our next port of call was the Public Hide, half-way along the Causeway. To judge by the bird song, the reed beds on either side of the path were well-populated with warblers and other birds, but sighting them was difficult, if not impossible. From the hide itself there was not a great deal of activity to see, although in the distance Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings rose up en masse every so often, clearly disturbed by the presence of some threat. As we had learnt in our briefing, the water level on this side of the reserve has been raised in order to encourage the two or three families of Otters that have made their homes here, but unfortunately none of them showed themselves whilst any of the Team were around. (It transpired later that the only member of our group to catch sight of these, at least for us, elusive creatures was John, who had remained behind in the Lilian Hide.) A small splinter group then decided to press on to the Lower Hide, which involved a longish, but pleasant ramble through a woodland setting, again very much alive with bird call and song, notably Chaffinch and Chiff-Chaff, but with few opportunities for sightings. From the Lower Hide the reason for the restlessness of the Black-Headed Gulls and Lapwings was revealed to be one of the reserve’s Marsh Harriers hunting for food, and we again had good views of this handsome bird. Notable, too, was the presence of a Great White Egret which was resting in a tree on the other side of the lake and which had also been seen flying by the rest of the team who had remained in the Public Hide.  From the hide we were able better to catch glimpses of some warblers, flitting amongst the reeds, and, after some discussion, decided that one of the birds seen was probably a Marsh Warbler. After an al fresco lunch, back at the VC, where we were able both to munch and birdwatch as a variety of woodland birds dropped in to enjoy the well-stocked feeders, we set off to visit the two other hides on the main reserve, the Grisedale and the Tim Jackson hides. En route to the first of these we came across two very young, DSCF1523partially fledged Wrens, perched on a low branch near the path, and looking rather cross that our presence was disturbing the regularity of visits from their parents who were still feeding them. At the Grisedale Hide we enjoyed the wonderful spectacle of fifty or so Black-tailed Godwits in bright summer plumage, most resting on one leg with bills tucked back under their wings, and from the Tim Jackson Hide we saw three of the reserve’s resident Red Deer, grazing on the far side of the lake. Two car loads of the team next decided to head head for the ‘satellite’ hides nearer to Morecambe Bay and at the Allen Hide, besides the very noisy, nesting Black-headed Gulls with fluffy chicks of various sizes, we also saw a number of Avocets and a pair of Oystercatchers. Thoughts of the journey home began at this point to come to the fore, but for a trio from the team a last treat was in store: the glimpse of a nesting Peregrine (in actual fact just the sight of a head peeking over the side of a nest) at Warton Crag and something that would have been missed entirely had not another birding couple begun to scan the ledge with their scope, just as we were about to leave!

Bird List (MH)

  1. greylag goose
  2. tufted duck
  3. mute swan
  4. gadwall
  5. pochard
  6. black-headed gull
  7. mallard
  8. marsh harrier
  9. lapwing
  10. coot
  11. buzzard
  12. little grebe
  13. grey heron
  14. shelduck
  15. sand martin
  16. blackcap
  17. blue tit
  18. wren
  19. pheasant
  20. collared dove
  21. long-tailed tit
  22. carrion crow
  23. reed bunting
  24. great tit
  25. great crested grebe
  26. swift
  27. chaffinch
  28. blackbird
  29. robin
  30. jackdaw
  31. great white egret
  32. marsh warbler
  33. sedge warbler
  34. nuthatch
  35. great spotted woodpecker
  36. song thrush
  37. greenfinch
  38. cetti’s warbler
  39. goldfinch
  40. bullfinch
  41. dunnock
  42. pied wagtail
  43. house sparrow
  44. black-tailed godwit
  45. wigeon
  46. swallow
  47. avocet
  48. oystercatcher
  49. wood pidgeon
  50. magpie
  51. peregrine

…and a fox cub and red deer.

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