Leighton Moss (27.3.2018)

Overcast with occasional drizzle

After an arduous journey through rain and occasionally heavy traffic, 15 intrepid members of the Team assembled praying for better weather and a productive day. Our arrival appeared to coincide with an immediate improvement in the weather which held for more or less the rest of the day and with encouraging spots of wren and coal tit around the car park, we congregated in Lilian’s Hide. Settling down to views of moorhen, mallard, tufted duck, coot, gadwall, teal and greylag geese, we were delighted to see a little egret and at least 6 snipe flying around the far side of the pool but unfortunately settling out of sight amongst the rough grass opposite the hide. Almost immediately we had our first sighting of a male marsh harrier floating repeatedly across the far reedbed, its tricoloured wings vivid in the improving daylight.

Heading out on the Lower Trail and Boardwalk, there were clear sightings of long-tailed tit, chaffinch and reed bunting, and at least one member heard the distant yaffle of a green woodpecker from across the farmland to the west. The Causeway Hide revealed a rich mix of wildfowl – tufted duck, wigeon, pochard, coot, shoveler, little grebe, mute swan, pintail (the tail feathers prominent as they spent most of the time dabbling) and great crested grebe in its resplendent summer plumage  – in addition to lapwing and to resting cormorant and great black-backed gulls. Again, a marsh harrier flew over the reedbeds, and a second raptor sped overhead with some, maybe not conclusive, agreement as to its identity as a sparrowhawk.

Walking further onward along the Causeway, we were treated to the explosive song of Cetti’s warbler, several loud outbursts of squealing/grunting from water rail, and the booming of bittern – but frustratingly no sightings! The walk through the woodland to the Lower Hide revealed, amongst others, jay, nuthatch and treecreeper along with very tame pheasants. From Lower Hide, a good selection of wildfowl again, which included goldeneye and three snipe (some inconclusive debate as to whether great or jack) sitting quietly along the near pool edge facing away from the Hide.

Hungry for a late lunch, we marched back single-mindedly to the visitor centre, but lucky individuals spotted a Cetti’s warbler appear from the reedbeds along the Causeway and disturbed a water rail at its junction with the Boardwalk.

After an outdoor lunch, the weather having improved significantly by now, and a sighting of bullfinch at the adjoining feeding station, we trekked down to the Grisedale Hide armed with intelligence gained from reserve staff about the presence of a tawny owl and water rail. Unfortunately no sightings of them, but we were delighted to be greeted at the Hide by up to four marsh harriers (a swarm?) floating around the reedbeds, with one male painstakingly collecting twigs and lengths of reed to take to its nest within the far reedbed. Also amongst the various wildfowl on the pool, a single great white egret sedately waded towards the Hide picking out fish and other goodies from the shallow water. What a fine, elegant and memorable sight! And an opportunity to contrast and compare with a little egret nearby.

With the group fragmenting as individuals left to make the long journey home, the remaining members popped into the Tim Jackson Hide to see teal, gadwall, mute swan and pintail and then stopped on their return along the woodland path to watch a willow tit which had been spotted by one of the happy band.

Driving across to the Eric Morecambe and Allen Hides, we were rewarded with significant numbers of black-tailed godwit, shelduck, avocet, wigeon, teal, shoveler and pintail, as well as gulls (lesser black-backed and black-headed) and oystercatcher. And finally from the Allen Hide, a single redshank to round off an excellent day!

Meanwhile, a splinter group of two dropped off at Warton Crag just as a peregrine falcon flew in, landed on a ledge and continued calling for some time, perhaps for its mate who did not turn up. Opposite a pair of ravens were nesting, so a very worthwhile visit for them. (SC)

Bird List (MHa)

  1. Wren
  2. Coal tit
  3. House sparrow
  4. Dunnock
  5. Collared dove
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Blackbird
  8. Greenfinch
  9. Goldfinch
  10. Robin
  11. Pheasants
  12. Great tit
  13. Wood pigeon
  14. Magpie
  15. Goldcrest
  16. Marsh harrier
  17. Teal
  18. Tufted duck
  19. Gadwall
  20. Little egret
  21. Greylag goose
  22. Coot
  23. Snipe
  24. Long-tailed tit
  25. Blue tit
  26. Black-headed gull
  27. Cormorant
  28. Reed bunting
  29. Carrion crow
  30. Lapwing
  31. Shoveler
  32. Mute swan
  33. Little grebe
  34. Wigeon
  35. Great-crested grebe
  36. Pintail
  37. Shelduck
  38. Mallard
  39. Lesser black-backed gull
  40. Greater black-backed gull
  41. Pochard
  42. Cetti’s warbler
  43. Canada goose
  44. Water rail
  45. Jay
  46. Nuthatch
  47. Treecreeper
  48. Goldeneye
  49. Buzzard
  50. Grey heron
  51. Oystercatcher
  52. Great white egret
  53. Moorhen
  54. Bullfinch
  55. Willow tit
  56. Avocet
  57. Black-tailed godwit
  58. Redshank
  59. Curlew
  60. Sparrowhawk

Photos (DC)


2 thoughts on “Leighton Moss (27.3.2018)

  1. Very Good report .with some delightful photos.Sadly another funeral for a former Firefighter.They all seem to be falling off their perch of late. Best Wishes to all John Hancock xxx >


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