Trip reports

An Evening at Leighton Moss

Adult black-tailed godwit in summer plummage, at the RSPB Snettisham nature reserve, Norfolk

Friday, 31 August 2012

On the final day of August, some six members braved the intermittent rain to meet John Wilson in the Allen Hide car park. This was the second of John's "Evenings at Leighton Moss" when on this occasion we usually concentrate our attentions on the birds of the saltmarsh adjacent to Leighton Moss.
From the newly built (although not entirely complete) Eric Morecambe hide, the first bird seen was a kestrel hovering above the marsh embankments. On the water below were several shelduck including a few immature birds. As a large loose flock of lapwing took to the air on a far pool we tried hard to find the cause of this disturbance- we wondered if a peregrine or perhaps a predatory mammal was on the hunt. However, nothing was seen and the birds quickly settled. In the foreground there were three greenshank feeding in the shallows along with a party of black-tailed godwits. We also had good views of gadwall; John explained how this handsome and little duck had become quite commonplace at Leighton Moss over the past few years. John also pointed out how the white speculum of the female gadwall distinguishes this bird from the similar female mallard.
After our session at the saltmarsh our party moved on to a vantage point at Storrs Lane. Our intention was to witness the many little egrets that at dusk usually come into roost on a dead tree at the reedbed's edge. Sure enough, and after a few minutes, one, then two, then three egrets with languid wing flapping settled on the bare branches until there were no more than half a dozen birds. Something of a disappointment I suppose- but there again the light was fading and the drizzle intensifying; who could blame the birds for perhaps seeking a more sheltered place for the night. Nonetheless we had enjoyed our evening, and of course there will always be another time. Such are the joys of birdwatching!

Michael Gardner