End of March visit (29th).

Leighton Moss

Leighton Moss
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Leighton Moss

End of March visit (29th).

  • I normally start at the estuary hides, where there were plenty of Avocet and Redhank, and smaller numbers of Lapwing, Teal, Gadwall, Pintail and Wigeon, and large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits. I swear that if there were only two left on the entire UK coast-line, they'd still find a reason to squabble over feeding places!

    Onto the main reserve and I always pause at the unofficial feeding log on the way to Jackson hide to say hello to the woodland birds. A pair of Nutties posed happily in return for a few suet nibbles.

    Then, I heard someone asking, "Ere, 'ave you seen that lady with the pockets full of food. We're trying to establish her migration patterns."

    "No, there's only me ... and I've only got nibbles to give you."

     "Oh well, I suppose they'll do." Yes, I can confirm after extensive research lasting at least the three minutes it took for the Water Rail to appear, they will come out and pose in the sunshine for suet nibbles, providing you've tempted the Mallards and Pheasants to a different spot!

    If these so-called elusive birds keep showing at this rate, I'll be able to start my own photo library dedicated to them shortly :)

    The new Sand Martin house is up in front of Jackson hide. Let's hope for a good take up. Just to the right, the white blobs in the background are a Little Egret and a Great White Egret ...

    ... fortunately the GWE came closer

    Towards Grisedale hide was one of many Wrens, but this one was singing from the trees instead of skulking in the reeds.

    Loads of Marsh Harrier activity, both males and females, but this is the best record shot I managed.

    On the Causeway, this Mute Swan reminded me of those designs of upside down stairs that loop around on themselves by Escher, although perhaps that says more about the way my mind works!!

    A few more nibbles brings a bit of colour on the woodland path to Lower hide

    I actually heard two Bitterns booming on the way back, which when I reported it, caused a bit of excitement, as apparently it was the first time two had been heard for a few days.

    Back at Lillian's hide, a Little Egret fished right in front of the hide to everyone's delight, although we'd lost the sun by then.

    Some expert waggling of those big yellow feet and several tiddlers later and it was content to fluff itself up and settle down for a doze on the bank. What gloriously wispy feathers the adults have on their back!

    I had enough time to call in at Warton crag on the way back. In a few minutes, I had spotted both Peregrines, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk! Sadly, all out of photo range. I did take a record shot of one of the pair of Ravens doing their acrobatic flights and showing off that distinctive fan tail as I rarely see them...

    With so much raptor activity, the crows were having difficulty settling and there was practically a murmuration of them ... or would it be a murderation for crows :) Anyway, I estimated at least 200 of them in the air together which was quite a sight.

    A good, varied day, I thought, and I hope you enjoy the photos.

  • Great set of pics Nige, especially the first one. Can't wait for the end of June...

  • Wow, you had a good day Nige, and you covered all the reserve in one day that's some going.

  • Thanks MC

    I don't suppose there'll be many Godwits around by June, but I'm sure there'll still be plenty to see. I was thinking, as the Crag is only just down the road, it might be worth organising a quick visit, during the stay, too, if anyone wants to see the Peregrines (or Ravens)

  • Brilliant set Nigel and glad to see you got up to L.Moss and had such a good days sightings.    I have to laugh at the Rail near the feeding log that comes out of the brook without a care in the world if there's a bit of food on offer !!    They are definitely going to have to re-write the books on them lol    Love all the photos and also the commentary, such a great thread, thanks.

    I heard from Jon Carter that the Sand Martin bank went in last Wednesday and then next job was to fill the chambers with sand :)

    Nice you had time to call in at Warton Crag, I'm looking forward to venturing up there when the butterflies are in abundance.

  • Cheers Jim

    you covered all the reserve in one day that's some going

    As I normally only go for the day, I tend not to hang around in one spot for long, unless something forces me too, like an otter, and now the days are getting longer there's more time to fit in the extras, like Warton Crag. It also helps that they finally sorted out my leg a week ago, so I can move at my old rate again without trouble! In fact, I'm now planning my first return to hill walking to really put it to the test! Just a low one for a start, but it will good to get back up onto the moors and fells.

  • Thanks Hazy

    I was actually chatting to a guy by the log, saying "if you're lucky, a Rail will come ... oh there it is!" He couldn't believe it :)

    I've never been up on the  crag, but at least I shouldn't have any problems doing it now, so I'll give it a go one day in late spring/summer.

  • Its a nice walk on top of the crag not sure if I could get up there now with my lungs :(

  • Wow, what a great selection!  Wonderful to see the raven and the murderation (!) but my favourite has got to be the subtle godwits.

    Is the 16th snap a marsh tit or a willow tit?

  • Thanks Clare

    Not sure if there is a collective noun for Godwits, but I reckon it should a Strop as you're practically guaranteed an argument and they are very photogenic when they go at each other.

    It never called to help ID, but LM is famous for Marsh Tits. Although this photo isn't really showing either the glossy head or the white mark at the base of the beak, it does have the small, neat bib, so I'll go with Marsh, mainly due to location!

  • Fabulous set of photos Nigel, love the "murderous" crows and the fluffy egret, along with the Rail you had a very productive day and it is a pleasure to browse through your pics.

  • Nigel O
    It never called to help ID, but LM is famous for Marsh Tits.

      Agree with Nigel,  don't think L.Moss have seen a Willow Tit since the '90's    It's 99% certain it will be a Marsh Tit at LM

  • Great pics Nigel, you had a productive visit!