Trip reports

Locations around Leighton Moss

Adult and child birdwatching

Saturday, 11 June 2011

This trip had been incorporated in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB Walking Festival. The 4 leaders and 12 group members were therefore joined by another 6 guests. The trip was also unusual in that whilst we were always on the lookout for birds, the focus was on local habitats, and other aspects of natural history in the vicinity of Leighton Moss. A fox crossed Storrs Lane as the group approached the Trough. Attention was given to the formation of the Trough (erosion of a layer of shale in rocks which had tilted to the vertical when faulting had taken place) before the geology continued with examination of Trowbarrow Quarry, and some of its fossils. While in the quarry we watched a male marsh harrier high overhead as it mobbed 2 buzzards, and a shelduck flew out from the area of a potential nest-site. However, it was the orchids of this Local Nature Reserve which held most interest for the group - common spotteds, common twayblade, bee orchid, fly orchid, and broad-leaved helleborine. Here we started to see the broad-bodied chasers, and variety of damselflies, which were to show up at various points during the walk. At Hawes Water we found the butterflies - common blues, small pearl-bordereds, and a large skipper to compare with the small skipper seen by some at the entrance to the Trough. A female marsh harrier showed low above the reed beds before dropping into them, and a sparrowhawk flew over as we lunched. At our feet the birds-eye primroses were in full bloom, and the flower theme continued as we entered the wonderful meadow on the Gait Barrows NNR. The richness of the flora stood out against the grass dominated field beyond the reserve, as we made our way through Yealand Hall Allotments to descend via a permissive path to Storrs lane. Time was taken to look at the herb paris growing in the verge before entering Leighton Moss at the far gate from the Visitor Centre. Whilst bird watching now became the dominant activity we continued looking at the chasers and damselflies, and recognised the different flora of the reed beds and their damp surrounds. A marsh tit flitted beside the path, and a lesser whitethroat remained invisible while singing from the far side of a willow. Lower Hide had a regular cormorant sitting out on a post while a female marsh harrier was visible in a bush just above reed top height. Beyond another call from an invisible bird, as we all tried to find the source of a tawny owl call. More harrier sightings from the Causeway, and Public Hide. What were the 5 adult great black-backed gulls doing on the island? A distant great crested grebe sitting on a nest was a fore-runner to a similar sight immediately in front of Lilian's Hide, from which the finale was 2 mediterranean gulls beside one of the islands immediately in front of the hide.
John Webb