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.
We’ve had an influx of warblers over the past few days, making Leighton Moss a top spot for bird song this spring.
Blackcaps have been nesting onsite as well as nearby Trowbarrow. Although similar in appearance to coal and marsh tits, the blackcap has a black hat pulled down low to its eyes but lacks the black bib seen on tits. Female blackcaps are buff in colouring with a chestnut cap. Look out for them on the path to Lower hide as well as in our sensory garden.
Blackcap by Paul Chesterfield (rspb-images.com)
At the moment these small birds are flying in from the continent and can be seen gathering leaves and mud for their cup-shaped nests. These nests are built in hedgerows. In the coming months blackcaps will feed their young on caterpillars, insects and spiders and can be heard singing loudly as they hop from branch to branch.
The blackcap’s beautiful song has earned it the coveted title of the Northern Nightingale. We couldn’t agree more!
Willow warblers have taken up residence down the walk past Lower hide. Commonly mistaken for the chiffchaff, the birds both share a yellow eye stripe and dun colouring. The willow warbler has a slower, deeper, more melodious song. At this time of year they will be making their dome-like nests close to the ground.
Willow warbler by Sue Tranter (rspb-images.com)
Sedge warblers have also been playing their raspy tunes around the site, with chiffchaffs making their joyful song heard from various treetops.
Watch out for more warblers coming in very soon!
If you want to learn more about birdsong, why not book yourself onto our International Dawn Chorus Day walk on 4 May for a bright introduction to the most beautiful sounds of spring.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, with thanks to funding from the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are really pleased that for the last year we have been able to work with local museum and heritage professional Ken Haworth on the Natural Legacy Discovery Project. Ken has put an incredible amount of time into researching and interviewing people about the special stories and memories that make this reserve and this area the special places that they are, both for nature and culturally. Much of this information is now held on a google map, and the great news is that it is now up and running! Click here have a play with it. You'll learn loads of fascinating facts! There are story snippets, sounds and images to choose from. Huge thanks to Ken Haworth for all of his hard work and skill in creating this great resource.
Myers Farm before it became Leighton Moss visitor centre (Pat Jones)
You may have noticed that some numbered posts have recently been installed along the path from the sensory garden to Grisedale hide. These are part of the project and are in prepartion for an upcoming app that we have had developed. It will be available to download to smartphones very shortly, and we will also have some mp3 players available here for those without smartphones. The app will take you back in time, talking about the history of the reserve and what is here now. We will let you know when it's available, but for now, have fun discovering all sorts of new information on the map.