News archive

February 2007

Monday, 12 February 2007

Bittern walking on edge of reedbed

News from Leighton Moss

News from RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve

Over the winter our visitors have been treated to sightings of our flagship bird, the bittern every day or so, often flying across the top of the reeds or walking around the edges of the pools. Although our young birds left at the end of the summer, our resident adult bitterns were joined by birds from the continent. Our wardens and volunteers are carrying out surveys at dawn and dusk to listen out for our resident male, which usually booms from mid February until around June.

The major reedbed work to remove over 80 years of sediment has been completed over the winter and the quality of the water has improved. There has been an increase in fish, which we think has encouraged otters to return to the reserve and hopefully will help to increase the numbers of bitterns. Two nearby sites, are being returned to marsh and reedfen. The reeds that have been planted are establishing themselves well and the sites have been rich in birdlife over the winter.

John Wilson continues to monitor our bearded tit population and they appear to be surviving and feeding well over the winter. Another bird of interest has been a visiting male hen harrier that was around for a couple of weeks in the New Year.

It's been a slightly different winter for the outdoor team as they have had a holiday from the winter reedcutting due to the high water levels. They have focused instead on upgrading most of the paths to a high standard and working on Warton Crag. We have been managing a section there for twenty years now! It's nationally important butterfly populations rely on the flower-rich limestone grassland, which is at threat from other invading vegetation. Each year our wardens, along with volunteers, remove encroaching bracken and scrub to keep areas open to allow the butterflies to feed and breed in the summer. There are many butterfly species that visit the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but Warton Crag is well known for having the extremely rare high brown fritillary.

We are extremely pleased to tell you that Leighton Moss now has a Wildlife Explorer Group! Thanks to such an enthusiastic bunch of leaders the group kicked off at the end of January. It was a fun filled day, with 23 children joining in with games and birdwatching for the Big Garden Birdwatch. The group has had a good response with a waiting list of nearly twenty children. So a big thanks again to all the leaders who are doing a superb job!

We are currently in need of tearoom assistant volunteers, so if you know of anyone who may be interested in helping for a minimum of half a day a week then please call Gill Saunders, our catering manager on 01524 703016 for more information.

We would like to thank your group very much for your support and for your generous donation to Leighton Moss, which allowed us to buy three bat detectors. They will be well used on events during the summer months.

We hope you will visit us soon and we look forward to seeing you if you do!

Jen Walker (Visitor and Publicity Officer, Leighton Moss RSPB)