There are many things I love about working at Leighton Moss. At this time of year one of the things that brings a smile to my face are the young birds around the reserve. Today we were watching a juvenile great spotted woodpecker on the feeders right outside the front door to the visitor centre. It looked fantastic with it's bright red 'hat' on, completely unphased by the small group of people watching it through our front doors.
The reserve is full of young everywhere....ducklings, goslings, baby bunnies. Today, a lucky visitor spotted 2 young bearded tits on the causeway and someone else was lucky enough to spot a young reed warbler.
Today, my biggest smile was caused by a juvenile...human! A young boy aged 4, who was so unbelievably enthusiastic about wildlife, he was fantastic to talk to. He was telling me all about the birds in his bird book and was really excited about going out on the reserve. I lent him one of our Wildlife Explorers backpacks, which are free to borrow and he was off on his adventure. The backpacks contain small binoculars, a magnifying glass, identification books, and the most popular item - a bug viewing pot. After a walk round the reserve with his family, the boy returned back to the centre and proudly presented me with the bug pot containing an enormous dragonfly larva! It looked like something out of Men in Black! It really made my day. He excitedly told me about everything he had seen on the reserve whilst we had a good look at it the mini monster, before his dad then released it back near the pond dipping area. Children like this are the future of the RSPB. It was an absolute pleasure to meet this little boy, who has future head warden written all over him!
Well after some more unpredictable weather a brief break in the weather yesterday resulted in our wildlife becoming even more active.
Star of the show was the appearance of a rather dapper kingfisher to the right of Tim Jackson hide, this beautiful bird showed well on and off for a good few hours.
The recent influx of rain obviously suited this tiny dazzler as it fished successfully from a perch by the trees on the right of the hide.
Due to some technical difficulties my photo won't upload yet but I will add it on asap, and then i'm sure we can confirm the sex of the bird.
The females have a pale lower mandible (base of the bill). Whereas the male sports an all black bill, early indications suggest a male but photos will of course secure this detail.
Other sightings across the reserve have been good too, marsh harriers continue to perform and it is surely only a matter of days before the fledglings well ... fledge.
An osprey has continued to frequent the deeper pools of lower and Public hides and it has been seen on numerous occasions throughout the day. A garganey flew into Tim Jackson pool late afternoon yesterday as well, starting to show signs of moving into eclipse plumage. This time of year the breeding plumage slowly fades away and moulting sets in as they morph into a different appearance (not literally, like morphing into a goat or anything).
Plenty of other bits have been about to, with reed warbler fledglings putting in an appearance near Tim Jackson hide along with long tailed tits and reed bunting too.
So there we have it, a quick update on sightings and remember to keep checking as the picture will be uploaded later tomorrow!! Or just pop down to the reserve and get your own snap!
Our friends at RSPB Saltholme in Teesside need your help. They are through to the semi finals of the National Lottery Awards to hopefully receive funding for their important Life Long Learning Project. Find out the details and vote for them by going to: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/lifelong-learning-saltholme
It is hard to believe that June is nearly over, and with July fast approaching our red deer on the reserve should be producing more and more offspring.
The one calf that has been seen is performing well, leaping and bounding around full of the joys of err summer I suppose you could call it.
The weather has been consistently inconsistent and our wildlife have had some good practice in finding suitable sheltered accommodation.
We have regularly had a group of around nine or ten hinds hanging around from Tim Jackson hide,(not literally relaxing on the benches), with the supporting cast of the young spotty calf and a small bachelor group of around four stags lurking around too.
Other wildlife sightings on the reserve have included frequent sightings of otter from public and lower hide, sometimes being seen close to public hide by some lucky observers!
In bird news, bittern have been seen sporadically at a range of locations across the reserve. Marsh harriers continue to display well and the seven we currently have on the reserve could well be giving us glimpses of their fledglings as we make our way into July.
The cetti's warblers have continued to occasionally show around the griesdale and Tim Jackson trails, and bearded tits have shown more regularly with a group of seven in the willow from griesdale path. These beautiful skulkers are best located by stopping and taking a few minutes to listen for their almost metallic pinging sound.
Most of our bumper crop of avocet have successfully made it to good sizes, so the bulk of the danger that usually faces these enigmatic waders seems to be behind them.
Back on the reserve osprey continue to grace us with their presence as they show incredible determination to dive and catch fish from the deeper pools of public and lower hides. Saturday evening also produced a probable white winged black tern viewed by several lucky observers from public hide before flying high away to the east. These beautiful vagrants as their name suggests have black bodies and largely black under-wings with clean white on top of their wings. It is an eastern cousin of the commoner but still scarce black terns which we tend to get almost annually passing through on the reserve. Unfortunately this didn't hang around and by the time news had been received the following morning the bird had long departed.
So plenty to look forward to in July with marsh harrier young appearing and hopefully more of our beautiful red deer calves!
The Flickr Pic of the Month for May is this fantastic photo of a female Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa taken by Dave Middleman.
Well done, Dave, for managing to photograph this beauty!
The broad-bodied chaser, a common dragonfly, tends to fly away when approached but has the habit of returning to the same perch to rest in the sun. The sunlight enhances this female's golden colour in this photo. Female broad-bodied chasers are golden-brown / yellow whereas the males are a powdery blue. The abdomen is broad and flat which makes them look like a 'fat' dragonfly. Both sexes have yellow edges on each segment of their abdomen giving them a look of having yellow spots on along their sides. Males and females both have a dark brown triangle on the base of each wing. They are typically 39-48mm long with a wingspan of about 70mm. They are on the wing from May until August when they can be seen flying along the edge of the water looking for insects to eat.
Add your photos to our group on Flickr. Go to www.flickr.com and then search for the RSPB Leighton Moss group.