The chicks are cheeping, the rabbits are roaming – it can only be Easter weekend!
To mark the festivities we celebrated with an egg-cellent (ahem) Birdsong for Beginners event. The fabulous Andy Chapman and three enthusiastic volunteers were onsite early to tell people all about the sounds and songs of spring.
It was an early start for most and our visitors weren’t disappointed!
Sedge warblers put on a wonderful show. Their raspy calls could be heard out across the reedbed from the causeway. One particular songbird clung to the top of a willow tree to sing out his peculiar flutey song before diving back down again into the reeds.
Sedge warbler by David Mower
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a reed and sedge warbler. However, it’s worth taking the time to stop and listen. A reed warbler sticks to the same pattern of notes and will tend to stay hidden below the reed heads. Whilst a sedge warbler may start off with a similar song, it quickly rises into high-pitched trills and a spectacular leap into the air which is part of its mating display.
This is the perfect time for warblers. Blackcaps and chiffchaffs can be seen all across the site.
A reed bunting made its small, discrete call and even showed its black cap and white moustache before swooping away.
Reed bunting by Brian Salisbury
The event was a big success - everyone was able to tune in their ears before enjoying a bacon bap from our cafe.
Other recent sightings include the pair of garganeys which have hunkered down at Grisedale hide. A grasshopper warbler can be seen (and heard!) on the path before Allen and Eric Morecambe hides. Its unmistakable trill sounds just like a grasshopper. Listen out carefully – this one is singing quietly, warming up for the season.
If you missed our Birdsong for Beginners event you can always catch our second session on Sunday 25th May. Limited places only, so book fast!
The sun is absolutely cracking the flags here today, and the wildlife is certainly taking advantage of this glorious weather.
Otters have been regularly spotted at Public hide. Look out for the tell-tale signs of all the water birds dashing across the pool in the same direction, it often means that an otter is slinking below the surface.
The black-headed gulls are certainly one of the sounds of Spring at Leighton Moss. Head to Lilian's hide to hear them squarking, watch them squabbling and see them mating.
Black-headed gulls mating by Stephen Smith
Marsh harrier numbers are now up to two males and four females. Spot them around the reedbed perching, hunting and doing aerial courtship routines.
Down at Grisedale hide, the pair of garganey are still here. They are being fairly lazy, spending most of the day snoozing, but occasionally waking up to dabble about and stretch their wings.
Male garganey giving his wings a good old stretch (Richard Cousens)
On the path just before Grisedale hide, a Cetti's warbler can be heard belting out its impressive song. Many of our favourite summer visitors are here now including sedge warblers, reed warblers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and willow warblers. They can be heard all around the reserve. If you head down to the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, you might also hear a grasshopper warbler along the path. If you would like to learn more about the wonderful songs of these and many more reedbed and woodland birds, then why not come along to our International Dawn Chorus Day event. Details here.
Avocet numbers have now reached 78 down at the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides. They have started scraping (where they use their legs to scratch out a hollow to lay thier eggs in). Hopefully they might break some records in our 50th anniversary year.
With the sun shining, it has brought out beautiful butterflies. Brimstones, orange tips, peacocks, speckled woods, green-veined whites and small tortoiseshells are being spotted not only around Leighton Moss, but also on Warton Crag nature reserve too.
With another three days of bank holiday to go, why not come and see us. We've got the Baby Birds Trail for families, a Binoculars and Telescopes Open Weekend and a variety of scrummy cakes in the Cafe!
We hope you’ve been enjoying the gorgeous weather – it’s been cracking the flags here at Leighton Moss! There have been some fantastic newcomers to the site this week, hoping to get their fill of spring sunshine.
Two garganeys arrived on Grisedale pool on 15 April. The pair showed up to a red carpet from birdwatchers who were eager to get a close-up view of the birds.
And what stunners they are.
Male and female garganeys by Richard Cousens
Males have a distinctive white eyestripe, with long overlapping wing feathers and a blue wing patch. Females are similar in appearance to teal with a black bar across their eye.
These small grey-billed birds are called ‘dabbling’ ducks, as they feed on the water’s surface. They’ll be enjoying the water plants on our pool, and have been seen basking in the sun on small islands.
Also spotted onsite: our lapwings are displaying well at the moment. The male will dance spectacularly through the air, cartwheeling and flipping his long rectangular wings, before swopping back down to the ground. He will then make quite a show of digging potential nesting sites to attract a female.
Otters can be seen daily from Public hide. They love to play just off the far banks.
Robins and nuthatches are lining our paths as they insects for their young. We had this great shot of a male robin feeding his fledgling on site. Grub’s up!
Photo by Martin Kuchczynski
Wildlife is definitely out and about early this spring. Keep on top of our recent sightings by following us on Facebook (RSPB North West England) and Twitter.