It’s a beautiful day here in sunny Silverdale and what better way to spend it then basking in the sun and watching some wonderful wildlife!
The sight of birds of prey swooping and soaring through the clear blue sky is truly magical and here at RSPB Leighton Moss we have not been short of these magical moments. Our marsh harriers are being seen every day from all around the reserve, with amazing views from our 9m high Skytower where they cause at bit of a stir on the water below, sending up flocks of ducks who are trying to avoid being the next meal.
Some marsh harriers migrate to Africa for the winter but we’ve been lucky enough to keep a couple of ours here as the temperature is warm enough and there is enough food available. The marsh harriers here at RSPB Leighton Moss nest on the floor of the reedbed but others have adapted to live on farmland and nest in crops as reedbed habitat has become rarer due to agricultural development.
Soaring marsh harrier by Mike Malpass
We also have 2 barn owls that are roosting onsite, to the back of the Causeway pool. They can be seen making feeding journeys from there out towards Barrow Scout fields, making a flying visit past the Skytower.
Perched in trees around the Causeway pool, a sparrowhawk and a peregrine falcon have both been seen, cunningly watching for potential prey. These amazing hunters are extremely successful, with peregrine falcons having the great advantage of being the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of 180km/hr. If you want to see nature in action this is a great time to visit us!
Peregrine falcon by Sue Tranter (rspb-images.com)
Down at the Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides there’s lots to see, with teal, wigeon, shoveler and greylag geese as well as the odd dunlin and redshank that have come in of the coast for a bit of shelter from the recent stormy weather. The Grisedale hide is a great place to see our red deer who regularly emerge from out of the reeds. The red deer can also be seen from the top of the Skytower where you can get a bird’s eye view of them trekking through the reedbed.
Whilst walking down to the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides keep an eye and an ear out for siskin, reed bunting and linnet in the trees along the path. Once you reach the hides you will be treated to pintail, oystercatcher and flocks of swirling lapwings. Watch out for kingfishers zooming across the saltmarsh pools as well as the UK’s smallest bird of prey- the merlin – which can be seen perched on a fence near to the hides.
Merlin by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Not forgetting our wonderful otters that are being seen every day from the Causeway and Lower hides. The Causeway can now be accessed by our brand new boardwalk that was officially opened this weekend and allows visitors to explore the reedbed like never before.
If you’re looking for activities to do this half-term holiday we have lots on offer for families from our Giving Nature a Home family trail to self-led games and activities.
See you soon!
It might be a bit blustery out there, but the sun is shining, so it is the ideal day to come for a stroll round Leighton Moss. There's lots to see - large numbers of teals, wigeons and some shovelers are gathered at Tim Jackson hide, as well as a flock of redshanks and a lone dunlin on the bank. At Grisedale hide you'll see more lovely ducks and possibly catch sight of a majestic red deer stag or two!
Blow the cobwebs away with a trip up the Skytower, our 9 metre elevated viewing platform. You may catch sight of a marsh harrier cruising low over the reeds on the look out for a tasty treat. From up there you get a real sense of the size of Leighton Moss - the largest reedbed in North West England, as well as views across the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and over Morecambe Bay.
If you head to the Causeway, you can take a brand new route! Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and master craftsmanship from Gilleard Bros Ltd, we are excited to have just opened a new boardwalk! This means the Causeway is much more accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The trail takes you along the edge of the reedbed, giving you a better glimpse into the world of our wildlife. A barn owl was seen from there yesterday afternoon, so watch out for its ghostly figure as you walk along. I can't wait until the warblers start arriving in the spring - the birdsong from there is going to be mega!
Brand new boardwalk by Annabel Rushton
When you get to Causeway hide, keep an eye out for otters, as a couple of them are being spotted regularly fishing there. There's also lots of tufted ducks diving for food. If you carry on to Lower hide, be sure to stop to look up and down the main dyke as otter sightings have been good there too. On the path to Lower hide, siskins are flitting about the trees finding food. Once at Lower hide, keep your eyes peeled for an elusive bittern as there have been sporadic views of one flying out.
Down on the saltmarsh, you'll be treated to huge flocks of lapwings swirling around the sky, viewed from Allen and Eric Morecambe hides. There's also lots of redshanks and some oystercatchers, as well as beautiful pintails. Keep an eye out for a flash of blue from a kingfisher, as one often perches in front of the hides on the fence posts. You may also catch sight of a merlin too, hunting across the marsh. On the path to the hides we have a feeding area where reed buntings, siskins and linnets are popping out most days.
Whatever the weather, there is always something wonderful to see at Leighton Moss, and once you've been out on the reserve, you can head back in for a warming brew and choice of delicious cakes in our café. See you soon!
We've been having some gorgeous weather on the reserve this week! The sun has been shining, the snowdrops are blooming, and the ducks are mating....hang on, it's not spring yet! It's only February!
We have still got lots of signs of winter - the trees are bare and we've got masses of over-wintering ducks, both around the reedbed and down at the saltmarsh. Wigeons, teals and pintails arrive in the autumn, from their breeding grounds in places like Scandinavia, in order to spend the colder months of the year here. You can spot them sheltering close to the hides on windy days, and out on the pools when it's calmer. There are also huge flocks of lapwings, redshanks and curlews out in front of Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, often huddling together, or flying round in a beautiful display.
Lapwing flock by Brian Salisbury
However, we have been seeing spring-time activity such as these tufted ducks mating. Birdsong is starting to be heard too. If you arrive by train as I do, then there has been a song thrush sitting on the corner every morning recently, singing its heart out.
X-rated tufted ducks by Brian Salisbury
If you visit Causeway and Lower hides, then make sure you look for the otters. There have been two popping up most mornings this week. If you are here early, you may also see the little egrets leaving their roost and heading out onto Morecambe Bay. There have been around 35 roosting in the trees at the back of the pools - they look like hankies when they are all perched on the branches.
When you walk the path to Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, you will notice a bird feeding area. There have been large flocks of siskins as well as reed buntings and linnets visiting there, so keep an eye out for them. When you get to the hides, look out for a flash of turquoise and orange, as a kingfisher has been spotted there, perching on posts and catching fish.
Reed bunting by Martin Kuchczynski Publish
There's lots of activity at the woodland feeding station near the visitor centre too, with nuthatches, marsh tits and a great spotted woodpecker among the delights to be seen. Speaking of garden birds, have you submitted your Big Garden Birdwatch results from the weekend yet? If not, you can do so here.