If you have watched any of the news recently, you will notice that yesterday's incredibly strong winds had a massive effect on the high tides around our coastlines. Thankfully, Leighton Moss was not affected. It was actually quite exciting being out there in the wind. It was whipping up the water on the pools into spirals in the air! Amazing to watch!
However, the weather did cause excessive flooding on the Morecambe Bay bit of the reserve. Because of this, the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides will remain closed until further notice.
This is the saltmarsh car park believe it or not! (by Alasdair Grubb)
The wildlife seems to have been unaffected by the extreme weather so far. Over the past few days we have had a great number of reports of bitterns. These have been in various spots including from Public hide, Lower hide and also flying across the main dyke that runs under the causeway. These elusive residents are a firm favourite at Leighton Moss. This time of year is your best bet to try and see them, as we have more of them on site than in the warmer months, due to migrants from Europe coming to spend the winter here.
Also on the dyke that runs under the casueway, the seemingly ever present kingfisher that has been there for a few weeks now is still showing up almost daily. I have never known such a reliable kingfisher. Many of our visitors have had the privelage to see and photograph this most colourful of residents.
This morning there were two bearded tits on the grit trays. They are not reliably there everyday anymore, as they only need to top up on grit occasionally, but worth a quick stop off there on fine days to see if you can catch views of the odd one or two.
Up to three otters have been very active down at Public and Lower hides several times this week. They love rolling around in the water, playing and catching eels.It is a good idea to get down there as early as possible.
The long-tailed duck has taken a shine to being here and is still on Lilian's pool after five weeks! There is also a great variety of ducks around the site including wigeons, teals, pintails, goldeneyes, tufted ducks pochards, gadwalls and of course the lovely mallards.
There was a huge number of greylag geese on the field by the level crossing when I drove into work today, and among them were two snow geese. I am guesing they all moved off the marsh when the tidal floods came in or were perhaps having a rest there having battled in yesterday's winds.
Greylag geese by David Mower
Sometimes it amazes me just how wonderful this place is!
With only half an hour to spare, nipping down to Lillian’s hide is one of my favourite options.
Today I decided just to see how many different birds I could spot in 30 minutes from this one hide. I’m no twitcher or even a list maker normally so it was just a bit of fun. Spotting the Long tailed duck in amongst all the goldeneye was an interesting first challenge as there were plenty of them around. There were lots of tufted ducks too and since the water level has dropped a bit there were lots more other things too. Gadwall were in plentiful supply as were the usual mallard and coots. There were also plenty of shovellers and teal to be seen. The family of mute swans were still being elegant over at the far island and a cormorant sailed past looking most unconcerned with the world. Then I spotted a bittern over to the right hand side of the pool as it worked its way back into the reeds.
A female marsh harrier displayed beautifully across the whole width of the reeds and a couple of lesser black back gulls flew overhead. A couple of grey heron were fishing off to the left hand side and there was some sort of grebe out at the far left hand end but too far for me to identify it properly.
My attention was grabbed at the right hand end of the hide by some little birds flittering in the bushes so I went over to have a look and saw a lovely collection of long tailed tits in the trees, There was quite a few blue tits in the reeds near the feeder and then to my surprise half a dozen bearded tits came across and joined them in the reeds. A lone chaffinch tried to steal my attention away along with a couple of great tits.
All in all not a bad collection for half an hour but it was time to go – a quick check at the left hand end before leaving added a black headed gull to the list and as if to make sure I left on a high another bittern flew across and landed just to the left of the remote camera.
All in all it made for a brilliant day – even though I’d only been there half and hour!
I wonder if the starlings will be out tonight!
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, network rail are currently undertaking repairs to the railway bridge over the track to the Allen & Eric Morecambe hides car park, which is causing disruption to the access to the car park and hides.
The work has been held up for some reason and the closure of the track didn’t happen until this week.
This means that the timetable has now changed to -
Monday 25 November – Fri December 6 (two weeks) - working on bridge itself to sandblast and repaint the half over the track from scaffolding - No vehicle access under bridge during this period but pedestrian access will be maintained.
The main reserve car park, visitor centre facilities and Leighton Moss will remain open as normal and unaffected by this. Please ask in the visitor centre for an update on your arrival if you would like further clarification.