Work has started this week, removing the mound from the centre of the main carpark (the one over the road). The contractors are leaving as much of it open as possible so there is still some space available. The car park behind the visitor centre is open as normal, as is the smaller one in front of the centre, which includes the disabled car parking. The work on the main car park is expected to take about 3 weeks, with more of it being opened as they go along. Thank you for bearing with us during this work to improve things for you.
Well, my time at Leighton Moss has come to an end, today is my last day; I’ll be really sad to say goodbye to the reserve and the lovely visitors, plus all the brilliant staff and volunteers I’ve worked with, and those of you who I’ve never actually met who read my blogs.
I’ve had an absolutely fantastic time at Leighton Moss and I will miss it loads, I’ve learnt so much whilst I’ve been here, and had some amazing experiences. I’ll never forget watching the starling roost in November with the hundreds of people who came to see it following the mention on Autumnwatch. And the time I saw 4 otters from Lillian’s hide, they played in the water for ages, then climbed out and sat on one of the islands, giving us absolutely amazing views of them. I also got the opportunity to go into the studios at BBC Radio Lancashire and spent about an hour on air talking about the reserve and the RSPB, something I never thought I’d do. But the thing I have enjoyed the most has been meeting the visitors to the reserve and talking to them about Leighton Moss, the fantastic wildlife on the reserve and the work the RSPB is doing here and elsewhere to help nature as a whole.
So, what’s next for me? I’m off to Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland. I’ve got a contract there with the RSPB as a Community, Information and Tourism Officer and I can’t wait to get there; Islay has some absolutely amazing wildlife and a whole load of people to tell about it. So if any of you a planning a visit to the Scottish Isles this summer make sure you drop in to Loch Gruinart and ask for me, you can also check out the community pages for my blogs whilst I’m on Islay.
Spring is definitely in the air at Leighton Moss, well, if the bird song is anything to go by. As I write this blog a song thrush is singing away behind the visitor centre, joined by great tits, chaffinches, blue tits and the less tuneful sound of the black headed gulls. We are still excited about the return of the avocets to Leighton Moss, and are hopeful of another successful breeding season. There have been sightings of up to 7 avocets this week seen from the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides.
There has been some excitement about the geese seen on the reserve this week too, with a white fronted geese spotted amongst the greylag geese on Wednesday in the fields near the level crossing, a bar headed goose at Lower hide, a snow goose at Lower, Tim Jackson and the saltmarsh hides and a pink footed goose at Griesdale. The glossy ibis has been seen on several occasions, including one sighting recorded from Griesdale hide, as well as it’s favoured location in the fields near Crag Foot, opposite Barrow Scout field. Also down near the level crossing were some pied wagtails and meadow pipits. The marsh harriers have been delighting visitors with their fantastic aerial manoeuvres over the reed bed, best seen from Lillian’s hide, but there is a good chance of seeing them all over the reserve. There have been sightings of other raptors, including several buzzards soaring high over the reserve and a merlin from Eric Morecambe hide.
There have been some bittern sightings during the week, including one from Griesdale hide, our warden, and some volunteers, have been out on the reserve at dawn and dusk to listen for the boom of the bittern, as yet he’s not been heard.
We’ve had lots of reports from the saltmarsh hides this week, with reports of spotted redshanks, greenshanks, red breasted mergansers, dunlins as well as plenty of redshanks, shelducks, wigeon, teal, pintails, oystercatchers and curlews. Its a good time of the month to go down to the saltmarsh hides with high tides at around 1pm for the next few days.
Elsewhere on the reserve we’ve had goldeneye and great crested grebes at Lillian’s, little egrets, red deer and snipe at Griesdale, a goosander at public hide and lots of treecreepers and marsh tits along the footpaths, as well as goldcrests and nuthatches. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for newts if you visit Leighton Moss, they are currently migrating across the reserve, this fantastic picture of a common newt was captured by Evie Gruchala and it’s our Flickr picture of the month for February.
If you think this all sounds amazing, but struggle to tell your wigeon from your teal, or just want to learn more about Leighton Moss and the work we do, why not come along to one of our Wednesday Walkabouts? Every Wednesday morning we have a guided walk, this month the theme is ‘splash of spring’ so we’ll be taking a look at springtime arrivals onto the reserve, including migrant birds as well as other springtime flora and fauna. The walks leave the visitor centre at 10.30am returning at around 12.30pm and the cost is £2.50 for RSPB members, £5 for non-members.
Calling all budding wildlife photographers....
Got a digital SLR camera and want to improve your wildlife photography? Then come along to this workshop with Mike Malpass, an experienced, published wildlife photographer. Get his guidance, inspiration and top tips on fieldcraft. This course is suitable for all levels. You need to bring along your own camera, but a buffet lunch is provided. It's taking place on Thursday 15 March from 11 am - 4 pm. Booking and payment in advance are essential, so call 01524 701601 or pop into our visitor centre to book a place. Cost: £25 for non members and £23 for members.
Well the weather has been glorious on the reserve today, with the sun shining down on the reedbed, making it feel incredibley springlike (even if there is still a nip in the air). Several lucky people have reported seeing a kingfisher down at our Griesdale hide. These magnificent birds with their vibrant colours will start to pair off at this time of year, when the male will bring fish to the female to prove his worth as a husband (sounds like an excellent idea to me!)
The glossy ibis is also continuing to put in appearances at Groesdale hide, where it has been spotted several times over the past few days.
The noise on the reserve is amazing at the moment, with the small birds singing their little hearts out. Bullfinches, long tailed tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, blue tits, great tits and coal tits are all being seen in abundance at the feeding station and around the car park. Lots of sightings of great spotted woodpeckers, marsh tits and goldcrests too.
The marsh harriers that spent the winter here, are still regularly showing around the reserve, particularly down at the Public and Lower hides. A bittern was also spotted at Lower hide today.
Down on the saltmarsh, up to 12 avocets have been seen over the past few days, so keep an eye out for them if you're down at the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides. 2 spotted redshanks have also been seen down there too, among the redshanks.
The red headed smew was seen over the weekend at Tim Jackson hide, so is moving around the reserve a bit.
Other non-bird species are coming to life too. Our warden has reported seeing brimstone butterflies whilst he's been out and about. These beautiful, big, bright yellow buttrerflies a true sign of spring. At the moment, you have to watch your step a little too, as our newts have started to emerge from hibernation, and so can be seen crossing the paths. There has also been an increase in the sighting of our magnificent red deer. Keep an eye out for Britain's largest land mammal down at our Tim Jackson and Griesdale hides.