Well I must say it's been a while since I've blogged about the wildlife here. My apologies for this week (I've not been here) and I've sadly lost my trusty blogger-Alison. We wish her all the best in her new job up at Abernethy. From bearded tits to crested tits!
So I hope that the following gives you a flavour of the wildlife here at the moment. It's just such an exciting time with the evenings getting lighter and the first signs of spring!
Birds of prey have been good recently. A female hen harrier has been seen on several occasions, last being reported on 22 Feb. However, the thrilling news is that this week we have had our first marsh harrier of the year here! A female was seen on Thursday 24 Feb (the earliest record for us). Not sure if it is one of our resident birds or one on passage. I love them returning! One was seen today as well at 3.15 pm at Griesdale hide. Other raptors have been buzzards (3 displaying on 21 Feb), a sparrowhawk, a peregrine and a kestrel. Not bad eh!
Starlings are still stealing the show at dusk (which felt quite late today at about 5.30 ish with it being such a sunny day). On the 23 Feb they swirled around in front of Lilian's hide for about 40 minutes. It was such a sight that Annabel texted me on my day off to tell me how amazing it was! They estimated about 80 thousand which really fills the sky. It's been wonderful to have them all winter again this year and they continue to be really popular with our visitors.
Our winter ducks are still here...the male goldeneyes are looking rather impressive in the sun and one was even displaying today by throwing it's head right back in it's enthusiastic courtship technique (see pics below). They don't breed here, just visit in the winter. They breed in mainly in Northern Europe. However, they first nested in the Scottish Highlands in 1970 and since then birds have been attracted to nest in specially designed boxes put up on trees close to the water. A good place to see this is at RSPB Loch Garten at Abernethy. Guessing Alison will see this during the next few months. A whooper swan was seen today at the coastal pools. A spotted redshank and a greenshank were also there today and there have been 80 dunlins and a knot on 22 Feb. Two pink-footed geese were here on the 22 Feb too. A goosander can still be seen from Lilian's hide with it's punk 'hairdo'.
Here's an idea of the efforts the male goldeneyes go to! (the three pictures are copyright Ben Hall rspb-images.com)
A bittern was seen flying in front of Griesdale hide towards Lilian's hide on 24 Feb. We have not yet had any confirmed booming from our male bird, but this is not unexpected given the harsh winter conditions they faced. They may take longer to build up the strength in their muscles which they use to boom. The process of booming does require a lot of effort. The rest of the country is in the same situation, apart from some birds beginning to start booming in Somerset.
As for our mammals (well the ones we see the most anyway). There have been at least three red deer antlered stags and a couple of hinds around and an otter put in a brief appearance in the morning on 19 Feb and two were seen swimming together today at lower hide! A stoat was on the Causeway on 22 Feb.
Well think that's all for now. Do keep an eye out for our lovely little scarlet elf cup fungi along the woodland trail too as there is quite a lot of it out at the moment. Here's a picture that Jim Beattie, one of our volunteers took recently.
Hi my name is Tina and you will find me working away in the shop at Leighton Moss most days. I will be bringing you little snippets of info from the shop keeping you up to date with our special offers and new stuff we have for sale!
I will keep my first attempt short and sweet my first piece of info is a money saver.
Current shop promotion is 20% OFF 12.75 KG SACKS OF BIRD FOOD!!!!! This offer ends on Tues 8 March so if you buy by the sack now is the time to do it! (excludes 12.75kg bags of peanuts)
Have you seen our 'Fledglings menu' in our Cafe?
Little portions for little eaters:
Half-size sandwiches £2.00
Pasta with pesto £2.00
Sunshine beans with toast and choice of bacon, Cumberland sausage or vegetarian sausage £2.00
Wildlife Explorers adventure meal sandwich, juice, biscuit, RSPB gift £2.95
On Monday 21 February from 10 am to 4 pm we will be holding a free exhibition to inspire people to 'love food and hate waste' here.
Exhibitors will include:
Love Food Hate Waste (Lancashire County Council)
Kitchen Top Tips (RSPB)
Food Inspired Gardening (Piccadilly Gardens)
Eco Friendly Gardening (Groundwork Trust)
Specialist Plants (Ann Elliot)
Bio Fuel Boilers (AONB)
Composting (Lancashire County Council)
Do come along and find out more! Free admission to the exhibition, cafe and shop.
Its been three months almost to the day that I arrived at Leighton Moss, but time passes and now I head up north to RSPB Abernethy reserve living amongst forests and mountains for the next 12 months - poor me!
Learning how to 'blog' has been just one of the myriad of things I've learned to do since last November. Its been a fantastic volunteering experience working alongside a dedicated RSPB team who are working diligently to make sure nature stays amazing in these parts and the visitors to Leighton Moss have the best experience possible on this incredible reserve. There are quite afew folk involved in this process, but I now I think I've met everyone (it takes a while), and I have learned so much from them all - visitors included!
As I frantically tried to keep up with the Sightings Board, I was grateful for; all your informed spottings, your tales of Leighton Moss and the polite corrections to my spelling (!) I loved hearing all your reserve news and meeting you all - you gave me lots of encouragement. But this blog isnt all about me ... honest!
I had a last fling on the reserve early this morning tyring to get one last sighting of the otter. Not for me, but it did happen for a couple of people sitting in Lower Hide at 08.30. I did see five little egrets leave their roost sight though, which was special. The great crested grebe is still diving for its dinner at Public Hide, as is the male goosander. Nine red deer hinds looked splendid in the grey morning light, and were twitchy as I crept past them on the woodland path to Lower Hide (they were in the adjoining field). Starlings leaving the reedbed flew over my head - the beating of about 5000 wings sounded like the revving of a car engine! They too were flying in a northerly direction - which is prophetic as its what I must do this afternoon.
Thankyou everyone, I shall miss Leighton Moss. Its a magical place, as is the whole area of Arnside and Silverdale. I think I'll be back to pay a visit or two though ....very soon.