Boxing day may have brought cold, foggy weather, but the birds were on form. There were many sightings of a bittern at Lilian's hide, and several of water rail too. The waxwings are also still here, and were seen both in the car park to the rear of the visitor centre, and at the start of the causeway.
27 December brought more spectacular bittern sightings, with 2 seen together to the left at Lilian's hide, having a punch up with a heron! Water rail seen there also. Again, approx 40 waxwings seen on the rear car park, and at the start of the causeway.
We're open as usual just now-our visitor centre from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm (reserve open 9.30 am to dusk)
The only different times for our visitor centre are on New Year’s Eve, 9.30 am to 3.00 pm and New Year’s Day 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Love to see you!
As the cold weather continues, so do good views of bitterns! 2 were seen through out the day at Lilian's hide today. There were also a couple of water rails showing well on the Left hand side of the hide.
The waxwings are continuing to entertain us, today being seen at the start of the causeway.
One lucky visitor had views of a pair of bearded tits flying over the causeway.
Around 50 000 starlings came in to roost close to Tim Jackson and Griesdale hides.
As the incredibly cold weather continues, it is not only our garden birds that are desperate for our help. The bitterns at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale are also very hungry as the reedbed where they feed is frozen. Luckily for them, Santa came to their rescue with a special festive treat-a Christmas pudding, full of fish.
In a bid to help the reserve’s very rare bitterns – a small ‘heron-like’ bird – staff have been putting out fish as an emergency measure during the icy weather to try to supplement their diet.
Cat Owen-Pam, assistant warden at the nature reserve said: “This special Christmas pudding doesn’t appeal to me but I’m sure our bitterns will love it!”
This year there was good news for bitterns on a national level. The research carried out throughout the UK by Natural England and the RSPB showed the number of ‘booming’ male bitterns had increased to a record of at least 87, continuing their dramatic recovery from extinction in Britain.
Cat said: “It’s been really great news for bitterns this year. However, we must remember that it is still one of the UK’s rarest birds and they are particularly vulnerable to long periods of freezing conditions so the population may well suffer over the winter. Besides helping bitterns cope with the cold spell, we are working on a long-term project to increase the number of bitterns in the North West by restoring and creating reedbeds at Leighton Moss and the wider Morecambe Bay area.”
It is an ideal time to visit to try and see a bittern. With the water within the reedbed frozen they have been seen right out in the open. Every Wednesday in January RSPB Leighton Moss are running ‘Frosty Bittern’ guided walks from 10.30 am – 12.30 pm so wrap up and come along.
RSPB nature reserves are a great way to watch winter wildlife as they provide paths with hides and screens that avoid disturbance, which is particularly important in these freezing conditions.
For more information about Leighton Moss see: www.rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss or call 01524 701601. Leighton Moss is open throughout the holidays (apart from Christmas Day), Christmas Eve 9.30 am to 3 pm, Boxing Day 10 am to 4 pm, New Year’s Eve 9.30 am to 3 pm and New Year’s Day 10 am to 5 pm.
Cat Owen-Pam, assistant warden with the tasty fishy Christmas pudding!
A tawny owl hooted in the Ash trees on Silverdale golf course as the lunar eclipse reached its finale this morning. The advantage of an early start on the shortest day, means the early start is not that early! But at 7.30 am it was still very quiet on the reserve and it was a good half hour before the starlings exploded from their roosting place – right on the side of the path as you walk the southern end of the reserve towards our Griesdale and Tim Jackson hides. To choose such a public location means they must be running out of reedbed!
The frozen solid view from Griesdale hide was stunning with a sky-pink back drop and a great spotted woodpecker was drumming in the distance. In the stillness the sound carried right over the mere.
As I left, six red deer hinds caught my eye, standing on the reed fringe to the right. I spotted them as I turned to leave so they had obviously been watching me for a while. I must remember to keep looking left and right in the hides, although the view dead ahead was arresting.
Bearded tits were heard by Lilian's hide – but no bittern this morning.
The waxwings are still with us too. Numbers peaked mid week, but we still have quite a show of about 70 as they flit to and fro between the car parks, Visitor Centre and causeway. Listen for their high trilling to spot their location. Failing this, follow someone with an impressive telescopic lens on their camera and if its pointing sky wards, follow the sight line and .... bingo!
Kingfishers and waterrails can pop up or dart past anywhere where there is open water, especially by the sluice.