Trip reports

Leighton Moss

Leighton Moss
Great and Little egrets - Jill Islam

Saturday, 19 January 2019

After late night snow threatened the planned trip to Saltholme RSPB, it was decided to stay more local for the day, and Leighton Moss was chosen as an alternative venue for those who wished a birding day out.

We arrived at the visitor's centre and decided that as the great grey shrike had been seen that morning, we would head off to the Lower hide area to try and locate it.

First stop was the feeding station which was busy with great tit, blue tit and coal tit, chaffinch, greenfinch, and starling along with ground feeding pheasant and moorhen.

En route we called in at the Causeway hide, where we found plenty of duck species, (pintail, pochard, tufted duck, teal, gadwall, mallard, shoveler, goldeneye). Cormorants shared the small island with a number of lapwings, a few mute swans were present, and coots and moorhens foraged on the pool edges. A grey heron patrolled one of the channels and a water rail was seen racing from one side of the channel to the other raising the heads of a few of the resting snipe. A marsh harrier was seen over the reeds in the distance.

The shrike couldn't be located in the usual area beyond the Lower hide, though there were quite a few other birders trying.

From the Lower Hide we had better views of the marsh harrier and an otter spent five minutes in the open water hunting.

Bird food had been put out at a few places by the paths and these attracted great tits, blue tits, coal tits, marsh tits, and long-tailed tits, a few chaffinches, and a couple of nuthatches. But, other than the ever-present robins, there were very few other small birds about. A few treecreepers were seen, a solitary reed bunting perched high above the reeds, a couple of bullfinches were heard, and a few dunnocks and blackbirds were seen foraging in the undergrowth.

It was then back to Lillian's hide. Here the main attraction was the great white egret wading through the pool, dwarfing its little egret neighbour. A couple of black headed gulls were present as were a number of teal, gadwall, and mallard. Then for some reason, dozens of snipe started emerging from the reeds on the pool edge and flying in twos and threes to the sanctuary of one of the small islands. Possible avoiding an unseen predator.

It was then time for a long overdue lunch in the car park at the saltmarsh complex, which was fortuitous as a shower passed through while we lunched in the car.

From the Eric Morecambe hide we had good views of red-breasted mergansers, greenshank, black-tailed godwit, and redshank. A lone oystercatcher and a couple of dunlin were the only other waders. Wigeon and shelduck were added to the days duck list along with goosander. A distant great black backed gull put up a flock of lapwings.

On the way home, we called at Warton Quarry, but, unusually, there wasn't a single bird present on the cliff face.

3 attended, 56 species seen