Leighton Moss 21.06.16

Overcast at first, but increasingly sunny and warm as the day progressed

A baker’s dozen of the Team met up in Lilian’s Hide at the start of our annual visit to this RSPB site, some having first tried out the new Skytower which affords good views across the marshes and allowed sightings of Reed Buntings in the vegetation below. With little to see from the hide itself, apart from a small group of Teal, eventually identified by their size as much as colouration at this time of year, it was decided to press on to the Causeway Hide. A new boardwalk through the reed beds yielded plenty of bird song, for example with a Willow Warbler giving a lusty performance, but no sightings until our attention was drawn skywards by the cries of three or four Buzzard which were wheeling overhead with at least one of their number coming under attack from some crows.

From the Causeway Hide we had good views of a pair of Mute Swans sailing elegantly across the water with their family of five or six cygnets all in a neat line. We had distant views of one of the site’s Marsh Harriers patrolling the reeds and also of a lone Kestrel perched on a tree across the lake and brightly light up by the sun that was now breaking through the earlier heavy cloud. Our attention was next drawn to a solitary wader on one of the islands. After much squinting down binoculars and consulting of books, it was eventually decided that this must be a Green Sandpiper. A Commotion of Coots then crossed purposefully before us, looking for all the world as though they were about to gang up on some poor unfortunate victim, but before anything transpired most of us decided to strike out for the Lower Hide as a final destination before lunch. Whether the 800m trek was worth it was a matter of debate. Both along the track and then through the woods we could hear a constant chorus of birdsong, but due to the height of the reeds and the dense foliage of the trees sightings were few and far between. It was a good test for the ear, however, and both reed and sedge warbler were identified and later Chiffchaff, Pheasant and Wren were similarly noted.

At the Lower Hide there was little new to see, although a Great Crested Grebe sitting on its nest at the edge of the reed bed was spotted, and after a fairly brief sojourn the party set back off towards the VC and lunch. Lunch in front of the feeding station was a companionable affair in many senses, with Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch and others taking their fill from the well-stocked feeders and a solitary Robin boldly trying to share some of the Team’s heartier food.

Pressing on after lunch, we headed for the Grisedale Hide which at first seemed as though we would add nothing to our count; so empty did the pools and roadbeds appear. However, having settled down, patience was eventually rewarded as a Marsh Harrier was spotted doing a fly-past over the reeds. The same (?) bird returned a few minutes later flying even closer to the hide and affording us magnificent views of its bright orangey-gold head. A third and final appearance ended with the bird dropping on to some small prey, (unfortunately?) out of our sight. For several minutes nothing more was seen, until the bird briefly bounced up to hover over the kill, which by this time had attracted a couple of Carrion Crow in search of a few scraps. Eventually, the Harrier departed and our attention was drawn to less majestic examples of avian life as determined efforts led to the identification of both Reed and Sedge Warblers that were seen flitting up and down amongst the bushes and reeds. The sight of three deer that seemed to rise up out of the marsh completed a half-hour session that had turned out to be remarkably rewarding and filled the group with enthusiasm for a last sally to the Eric Morecambe Hide.

IMG_2364Here our rewards were almost immediate: a Little Egret, Redshank and Oystercatcher were all seen more or less upon entry to the hide and before long Bar-tailed Godwits (in large numbers), Shelduck and Black-headed Gulls were added to our list. Continued scanning of the expanse of water before the hide eventually revealed the presence of a pair of Avocets and soon afterwards these stately birds rose up and flew across in front of the hide, calling as they went.

With time beginning to press, there was some discussion as to whether to call in at Warton Crag in search of the Peregrine that usually has its nest there. Most of the Team decided to do so and were rewarded with excellent views of an adult bird and two youngsters who were preening themselves on the very edge of their nest, some ten feet or so down from the top of the crag. This turned out to be an excellent conclusion to what had been in the end a very rewarding day in all respects.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Little Egret
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Shelduck
  8. Teal
  9. Mallard
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Marsh Harrier
  12. Buzzard
  13. Kestrel
  14. Peregrine
  15. Pheasant
  16. Moorhen
  17. Coot
  18. Oystercatcher
  19. Avocet
  20. Lapwing
  21. Bar-tailed Godwit
  22. Redshank
  23. Green Sandpiper
  24. Black-headed Gull
  25. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  26. Wood Pigeon
  27. Swift
  28. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  29. Swallow
  30. House Martin
  31. Pied Wagtail
  32. Wren
  33. Dunnock
  34. Robin
  35. Blackbird
  36. Sedge Warbler
  37. Reed Warbler
  38. Whitethroat
  39. Chiffchaff
  40. Willow Warbler
  41. Long-tailed Tit
  42. Great Tit
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Nuthatch
  45. Magpie
  46. Jackdaw
  47. Carrion Crow
  48. Chaffinch
  49. Goldfinch
  50. Redpoll
  51. Bullfinch
  52. Reed Bunting
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