Trip reports

Not a murmer was seen at Leighton Moss!!

Not a murmer was seen at Leighton Moss!!
Bearded tits at Leighton Moss - Laura Bimson

Sunday, 10 November 2013

On a lovely morning nine of us set off to RSPB Leighton Moss; and what a beautiful day had dawned, a landscape covered in frost shining like diamonds, emblazoned foliage, autumnal hues from gold to russet.
Our merry band met in the centre's coffee shop, cake and coffee to start our day (someone called Packham on autumnwatch had sold us on the idea!).

Sustained, we purposefully set out for the grit trays set up for the Bearded Tits, situated in the reed beds close to the causeway path. Here we came across a horde, a collection of scopes and bins with their assorted owners waiting in hope for a glimpse of the famed Bearded Tits. Most of the watchers had been there in excess of 2 hours!! We'd only waited for a few minutes when a wren arrived, heralded with great excitement as close on its tail it was followed by one, then two Bearded tits, a spectacular pair complete with multicoloured leg rings. We had lovely views of their stunning colour and moustaches as they collected their grit.

We then made our way to the public hide spotting Mallard, Gadwall, Mute swan, Grey heron and Tufted duck. Then great excitement Neil spotted a Kingfisher streaking low across the water to an inlet, out of site, awesome.

We decided to move on and walked down the causeway, when coming to a clearing in the reed bed our Kingfisher was again espied! Obligingly sitting on a branch over looking the waters. It gave us wonderful views of it stunning in plumage, as it turned the blue of its back left you breathless. It dived for a fish as we watched... Magic.

Following the woodland path down to the lower hide we saw Blue and Great tit, Dunnock, Wren, Robin and best of all a Marsh tit - this cause a bit of an id debate, willow or marsh? Sean eventually confirmed it a Marsh tit later in the day. At the hide what a treat was in store. A male Marsh Harrier was sitting on the shore, untroubled, ignoring the Teal that passed perilously close. A commotion, suddenly the assorted ducks near the shore took flight, the Harrier stayed put? Wow, an otter, one of the reserve's family group, twisted and turned, frolicking or feeding who knows, alas only a brief sighting for the group. The Harrier then gave us an encore, lifting into the air, it set about hunting over the the trees, and to our surprise it was joined by another, a female, a beautiful aerial ballet ensued, Lucky us!!

Time for lunch, and what better place to eat your butties than the comfort of Lillian's hide and a chance to search for the recently spotted long tailed duck. It wasn't long before an eagle eye had located the female bird. It was only on the water for seconds before it dived down again and again. Eventually, it decided it was preening time, so we got good views, especially through Ron's telescope. Snipe abounded in the grass feeding with their wonderful probing beaks, Shoveler showed off the size of their beaks, huge! Teal gleamed in the sunshine, a Water Rail squealed close by, but elusive as ever not seen.

Next, a quick visit to the Grizedale and Tim Jackson hides held no surprises, plenty of duck and snipe, but the hoped for Red deer or Bittern failed to make an appearance.

Visitors to the reserve appeared to swell as the afternoon wore on, tales of spectacular Starling murmerations brought in the curious. We trooped out along the path overlooking the reed beds and pools, with the rest of the world we stood with baited breath, 6 starlings flew over - could this be the advance party? A Peregrine Falcon came into view distant along the treeline perhaps in pursuit of our quarry? We waited, some ducks flew over. We waited some more, but not a Murmur! Not a one! Our fellow watchers drifted off, shame, it was not to be, perhaps Neil was right- the Starlings had gone to Blackpool for the switch off of the Christmas lights!

But it couldn't spoil what was a superbly happy day out birding with friends.

Rodders and Lowra