Sightings have been superb over the past few days!
There has been a lot of otter action on Lilian's pool with the dog (male) seen as well a couple of older young otters. The female and her younger cubs have been out and about too. There have also been sightings on Public and Lower pools, so keep an eye out for the water birds dashing across the pool - it could be a sign that otters are slinking below the surface.
At Lilian's pool up to 10 water rails have been coming out on the reed edges, and the wading birds are enjoying the exposed mud with eight ruff and around 600 black-tailed godwits feeding there! This is a sight more commonly associated with the Allen and Eric Morecambe saltmarsh pools, and is the result of some major management work going on at the moment.
Ruff by Brian Salisbury
That doesn't mean to say the Allen and Eric Morecambe pools are empty. A curlew sandpiper has been spotted there for the past few days as well as dunlins, ruff and the usual flocks of redshanks, lapwings and black-tailed godwits. If you'd like to improve your wader identification, why not join experts Mike and Jane Malpass on our 'What's that Wader' event?
Two great white egrets are still very much present and enjoying fishing on the reserve. They move around site between the saltmarsh, Lilian's and Public pools, so look out for them wherever you go.
An ideal opportunity to compare the sizes of a great white egret and grey heron by Martin Kuchczynski
Our Wardens are into reed cutting time at the moment. Today they did a grand job at Tim Jackson pool, and tomorrow it is the turn of Lilian's pool for it's bi-summer spruce up. They will then move to Grisedale hide on Thursday (where you may even pick them up on our live webcam!) This vital management work helps keep the reedbed ship-shape for the wildlife that calls it home and is exciting to watch, so feel free to pop into the hide to see what they're up to. When the Warden's carry out this work, it does mean that the wildlife on that pool tends to move to another, but they soon return once the cutting has stopped. Read more about it here in Alasdair's blog from last September.
Have you ever seen a lapwing? Perhaps.
Have you ever built one? Perhaps not.
Participants on a series of recent creative workshops would answer the second question with a resounding yes!
The workshops took place at the Galloway’s Society for the Blind and Partially Sighted in Morecambe. Celia Smith, an artist famed for her amazing wire sculptures, taught participants how to create their own model bird, with a helping hand from RSPB Leighton Moss staff and volunteers.
Photo by Philip J Taylor
Each person drew an outline of their chosen bird, bent a strip of wire into that shape, repeating it three times, and then arranged the wire outlines to create a 3D model. It was then simply a case of picking out key details in more delicate wire, such as eyes, plumage and webbed feet.
The results are spectacular. From the iconic avocet to the mighty curlew, each model is a faithful representation of the participant’s chosen bird. The sculptures are so lifelike that you can’t be sure they won’t fly away!
Curlew sculpture photo by Philip J Taylor
If you fancy meeting one of these marvellous creations, several will be on display at Rossall Point Observation Tower in Fleetwood, from Thursday 11-Sunday 14 September. Catch them while you can!
We are proud to be celebrating 50 golden years of giving nature a home in 2014. Each week I am focusing on a special element of the reserve in order to mark this landmark year. This week, it's all about sluices....
If you have been to visit us this week, you may have noticed a new structure at the bridge on the causeway. This bit of grand design is a replacement sluice. So what exactly is it? Well a sluice is essentially a water gate. It is a key tool in reedbed management, as it allows us to control water levels more effectively. It is essential to allow reed growth, fish access and suitable places for insects like dragonflies and moths to lay their eggs. This all provides vital food for the birds and other wildlife here. It works by holding the water at a higher level above it. When we want to lower the water level, we simply take out some of the wooden boards and in time the water drops down to that height.
The sluice before it went in (Ian Rylands Ltd)
We have two sluices on the reserve. This second one allows us to hold water higher on the north end of the site (Public and Lower pool end), during times when we drop the level on the south side (Tim Jackson and Grisedale hide end), in order to carry out reserve management. Holding areas of deeper water is essential, as it maintains homes for larger fish, giving species like egrets, otters and bitterns plenty of food. It is even more important at the moment as we are holding the water level low for a prolonged period of time on the south side of the site. For details of this, click here.
Sluice installed (Ian Rylands Ltd)
The main fish species that will benefit from this new sluice are rudd, perch, tench, eels and pike. This fantastic photo by volunteer Mike Malpass shows a goosander wrestling with a pike almost the same size as itself!
A bit of a mouthful (Mike Malpass)
Thanks to Ian Rylands Ltd, the contractors who installed the new sluice and provided the photos of it. If you require any more information on reserve management please contact one of our wardens: Alasdair (Alasdair.email@example.com) and Richard (firstname.lastname@example.org)