If you read my blog last week, you'll know that we've been popular with the TV recently. Last week it was Strictly Come Dancing and this week you need to keep an eye out for us on Countryfile.
I don't want to give too much away, but the lovely Anita Rani and the fantastic Countryfile crew came along to film here on 17 September. Firstly we headed into the reedbed for Anita to interview our Site Manager Jarrod about the work we have been doing to rejuvenate the reeds in part of the reedbed.
Jarrod and Anita by Annabel Rushton
Anita and her Strictly dance partner Gleb Sevchenko then just had time for a few moves (wearing waders!) before we headed up the Skytower.
Strictly Come Wading by Annabel Rushton
At the top, it was my turn for an interview with Anita, all about our exciting new Skytower which is a first for the RSPB.
Me showing Anita the view!
The footage is part of a Countryfile programme featuring several parts of Morecambe Bay, so you will also spot some other familiar, local locations on there too.
If you'd like to know more (or just fancy seeing your favourite reserve on the telly again) then tune in this Sunday (4 October) at 6.15 pm on BBC 1.
I've been out on the reserve a lot over the past couple of days and it is so warm! We're definitely having a second (or some might argue first) summer at the moment!. The buddleia bush outside our offices is literally covered in red admiral and peacock butterflies, with the odd brimstone, painted lady and a few small tortoiseshell butterflies among them. The late nectar source is great food for them and shows the advantages of providing this sort of plant for butterflies and bees. For lots of ideas to attract wildlife into your garden, check out our giving nature a home ideas here.
Out on the reserve, we're still seeing lots of dragonfly activity in the sunshine. Common darters are whizzing around the reedbed and some migrant hawkers too. Although the weather is unseasonably warm, the bearded tits have begun to come to the grit trays in the mornings. These lovely little birds change their diet from insects to reed seed in the autumn, so they need grit to help them to digest it. Come along to one of our bearded tit walks to learn more about these special reedbed residents.
The variety of water birds is fantastic on the pools - masses of teal, wigeon, gadwall have arrived to spend the winter here, along with moorhens (sometimes having a punch up!) and coots galore as well as magnificent mute swans. The great white egret is still being spotted at Causeway and Lower hides, as well as regular sightings of otters - up to 5 at once!
Moorhen fight, coots keeping out of it by Martin Kuchczynski
If you're down at Tim Jackson and Grisedale hides, keep an eye out for the spectacular 14-point red deer stag who has been posing for the cameras recently. A much smaller, but equally as lovely mammal that we have been seeing a lot of is the stoat. One has been seen around the woodland feeding station and also on the Causeway.
Slinky stoat by Alan Foster
Down on the saltmarsh pools, large flocks of redshanks and black-tailed godwits are often huddled in front of the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, or voraciously feeding in the exposed mud. Views of kingfishers are phenomenal with at least one regularly coming to perch right outside Eric Morecambe hide or often using the sluice pipes. Three pink-footed geese were grazing on an island in front of Allen hide this afternoon and little egrets and grey herons were enjoying the flooded marsh beyond. A merlin has been spotted a lot sitting on the posts at the back of the pools too.
Male kingfisher by Martin Kuchczynski
We had a report of a bluethroat in front of Eric Morecambe hide today which is very exciting! It came to sit right on the fence in front. Unfortunately it didn't hang around for long so only a couple of people got to see it, but keep your eyes peeled if you are down there.
Huge thanks to all who include their sightings in the sightings book. Remember, you can add them on Bird Track too!
As we move into October, why not bring your family along for the Creatures of the Night Family Trail. Running everyday throughout the month, this self-led trail is free to take part and helps you discover more about all that squeaks, snuffles and screeches on the reserve at night.
See you soon!
One of the many things I love about working here at Leighton Moss is the huge variety that comes with it - no two days are ever the same. As the Visitor Experience Manager, part of my role involves working with the media - writing press releases, being interviewed on the radio and working with the TV.
Having hosted two seasons of Autumnwatch (2013 and 2014) along with appearances on the One Show, Countrywise and others, we are getting quite used to the limelight here. I was thrilled when Countryfile got in touch to say they wanted to come and do some filming here in mid-September as part of a programme around Morecambe Bay. We proposed featuring the reedbed management work we are doing at the moment along with our new Skytower. All was arranged for them to come and we knew the presenter doing the interviews was to be the lovely Anita Rani. I was very excited to meet her and the crew as Countryfile is not a show I have worked with before.
A few days before they came to film, I had an email from the Countryfile team to say that Anita is a contestant on this year's Strictly Come Dancing and that they were going to bring the Strictly film crew and Anita's Russian dance partner along with them!! The level of excitement in the team here went up a further notch at this point! As part of Strictly Come Dancing, they usually feature what the contestants have been doing in the week before the show, following them round during their day job, which in Anita's case is presenting Countryfile.
They all arrived bright and early and I was introduced to everyone, including Anita and the gorgeous Gleb Savchenko, her dance partner (who is every bit as beautiful in real life!) We headed down to the bottom of the Causeway and into the edge of the reedbed where we showed Anita the areas where the reeds have started to grow back, thanks to the management work we have been doing. It is a very muddy job, so waders were needed. Gleb was really excited to be out in the great British countryside after spending so much time in a dance studio....
No sequins or glitter here Gleb! (Image by Annabel Rushton)
Following an interview with Anita and our Site Manager Jarrod, we came back out of the reedbed to head up the Skytower. However, not before Anita and Gleb had an impromptu practice of their dance steps along the path - waders and all! As you can see from the images, the less than usual flooring and footwear didn't prevent them from pulling some serious moves!
Reedbed rumba by Annabel Rushton
Dancing in waders by Annabel Rushton
Once up the Skytower, it was time for my interview. Anita was fantastic and really interested in the reasons behind why we have installed it (to offer our visitors elevated views over the reedbed, as well as providing a great vantage point for monitoring rare breeding birds such as marsh harriers and bitterns, helping us to establish if and where nesting has taken place). I pointed out the great variety of birds that can be seen from up there. At the minute, we've had a real influx of over-wintering ducks such as teal and wigeons, so it was brilliant to be able to chat about those. Following the interview, there was another quick dance practice for Anita and Gleb! The Skytower had briefly become our very own Tower Ballroom! Go Team Glita!
At the top of the Skytower Ballroom by Annabel Rushton
If you missed a glimpse of Leighton Moss on tonight's Strictly, you can catch up on BBC Iplayer. And don't forget to watch our Countryfile appearance on 4 October - details in my next blog.
Me with #TeamGLITA - good luck Anita and Gleb!