Leighton Moss

Leighton Moss

Leighton Moss
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Leighton Moss

  • Awesome Autumnwatch #2

    I bet you were gripped watching last night's action on Autumnwatch, I know I certainly was! What a show - opening with the cheeky heron on the otter cam and then to see all the drama from the barn owls on the night vision camera! The adult barn owls hunt around the reserve early morning and dusk to bring in food for their chicks, which we think are a second brood. Last night's Autumnwatch showed a young barn owl, not from our brood, intruding on our roosting chicks, trying to take the food One of our chicks had a tussle with it and certainly made the point that it was not welcome!

      Barn owl by John Markham (rspb-images.com)

    It was intriguing to watch the pink-footed geese in the south of Morecambe Bay at Lane Ends in Pilling. 20,000 of them out on the fields tucking in is a sight to behold. As Michaela said, they are a "visual spectacle and a sound sensation". They fly round in V formation, congregate in flocks in fields and have a variety of interesting calls to one another - an all round sensational species.

    The red deer at Minsmere were phenomenal - their large stag known as 'The General' getting into a fight with 'The Captain' was epic to watch. We have a herd of red deer here at Leighton Moss too. They are somewhat more subdued than 'The General' and his challengers, as our main rutting time here is slightly earlier in September and early October. They are being spotted regularly at Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides with the hinds (females).

    What about the tawny owls? Weren't they just terrific! Autumn is a great time to listen out for them where you are. We get lots of sightings in the woods around Lower hide. Last night's show highlighted the impressive range of noises they have aside from the stereotypical "twit, two" (which is actually two tawny owls- females call the males a "twit", and the males say "twooo").

    As shown last night, one of our most charismatic birds is the bearded tit. I can't wait to see the results of Chris Packham's grit experiment. Bearded tits are insectivores in summer i.e. they eat insects. However, at this time of year when there are much fewer insects available they change to being granivores (grain eaters), more specifically eating reed seed. To help them to grind up the reed seed, they take in grit (yum yum) and this experiment is looking into which size they prefer - course, medium or fine.....we'll find out later tonight, so tune in, BBC 2, 8 pm.

    Of course it is not just the wildlife shown on the programmes that is being spotted around the reserve. Down at Public hide, we have been getting lots of views of two of our most secretive residents - bitterns and water rails, so keep an eye out for them there. If you head down the Causeway beyond Public hide to the bridge, stop for a while to look out for one of our most glamorous residents - the kingfisher. The variety and number of fish in the main dyke that runs through the reserve (where Martin was doing his human tadpole impersonation on Tuesday) means that this is a favoured spot for these beautiful birds.

    We're open as normal throughout so why not come and see the drama for yourselves? There's loads to see and do in the whole Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and around Morecambe Bay. These 'Nature on your Doorstep Guides' will help you to discover more.






  • Awesome Autumnwatch #1

    WOW! What a fantastic first day of Autumnwatch yesterday! From an otter live on Autumnwatch Extra, to Nick Baker's hilarious antics on Unsprung, there was never a dull moment throughout the entire day! If you missed the action from the main show, here are the highlights:

    Martin Hughes-Games looking like a human tadpole on his mission in a wet suit. Absolutely hilarious! He was uncovering the differences between dabbling ducks, diving ducks and sawbills. Autumn is a cracking time for learning all about the different ducks here at Leighton Moss and around Morecambe Bay. The dabblers are the ones that upend in the water - sticking their bums in the air. They're feeding on water weed on the surface. Look out for mallards, pintails, teal, gadwall and shoveler around the pools here. The divers, as their name suggests, find their food in the mud at the bottom of the pools. They can be difficult to keep an eye on as they are constantly ducking underwater but look out for pochard, tufted ducks and goldeneyes. Sawbills are the ones with serrated beak edges - ideal for catching slippery fish. These include goosanders and red-breasted mergansers. They are less regular on the reserve but keep an eye out for them on Public pool and down at the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides.

    The stunning pink-footed geese spectacle out in Morecambe Bay at Lane Ends was fantastic to watch (we were as excited as Michaela!) Around 20,000 of them are out on the mud flats and flying in V formation over the Bay.

    How epic was the red deer rut!! This was filmed at our big sister reserve RSPB Minsmere (where Springwatch was filmed this year). Our red deer have their main rut during September and have calmed down a little now. We are getting excellent daily views of them every day from our Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides.

    As mentioned on the show last night, due to some westerly winds, starlings haven't arrived in large numbers yet. We have around 6,000 coming in to roost of an evening doing a mini murmuration. Fingers crossed the winds will change and bring in more before the end of the series!

    With a bittern already spotted in front of Public hide this morning, what will be featured on this evenings show? Will the bearded tits be hogging the limelight? You'll have to tune in to find out - 8 pm, BBC 2. If you can't wait that long, head to Autumnwatch Extra for action all day on the red button and internet.

      Bittern by Craig Linford

    We're open as normal throughout so why not come and see the drama for yourselves? There's loads to see and do in the whole Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and around Morecambe Bay. These 'Nature on your Doorstep Guides' will help you to discover more.

  • Risky behaviour from our red deer

    With BBC Autumnwatch here filming this week, we are super excited! Make sure you tune in at 8 pm on BBC 2 for all the action. If you can't wait that long though, you can catch up to date drama and interviews by tuning into Autumnwatch Extra every day from 7 am.

    Autumn is a stunning season for watching wildlife and here are some of the highlights that we have been spotting this week:

    Majestic red deer stags are coming out daily. Head down to Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides for the best views. You may spot them hanging out with the hinds (female deer) or hear them bellowing at one another across the reserve. You may even see some risky behaviour!

      Cover your eyes! (Thanks to Craig Linford for capturing the moment)

    Bearded tits are regular visitors to the grit trays on the Causeway and they have also been picking up grit from the path itself. It might sound a bit odd for them to be eating grit but it is an essential part of their autumn and winter diet. In the spring and summer months they eat insects, but at this time of year there are hardly any insects around. Bearded tits therefore switch their diet to eating the seeds of the reeds. They don't have any teeth, so because the reed seed is very tough, they take grit into a special pouch in their chest called a 'crop' or 'gizzard' to help them grind it up. Clever ay! We put grit out on the trays to help them with this. It also makes monitoring their numbers easier.

    We're so excited that the Autumnwatch Extra team picked up an otter live on 'otter cam' today! We've been getting lots of sightings of these beautiful mammals from Public and Lower hides recently too.

    One of our most secretive residents - the bitterns have been coming out of hiding at Public and Lower hides so keep an eye out for this rare cousin of the heron.

    We're open as normal, so please do come and see us. You could hop on the train to Silverdale station - just 250 m from our front door. We're located in the heart of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so why not stay a little longer and do some exploring? These great 'Nature on Your Doorstep Guides' will help you discover more.