Trip reports

Lancashire's Leighton is Lovely!

Male bearded tit perching on Phragmites

Monday, 1 November 2010

The first frost of the season greeted the start of our autumn birding visit to the RSPB's Leighton Moss reserve in Lancashire. Perhaps the coach driver had also needed to apply some de-icer before he set off, as his arrival onto the car park was a few minutes after the Cathedral bells had chimed our planned departure time. Much relieved that our transport had arrived, we set off in eager anticipation of the species we might encounter.

We headed up the M6 through bright sunshine, and the occasional fog patch, to this flagship reserve, which is the largest natural reed bed in the North of England. We were welcomed by one of the RSPB team who briefed us on the key sights we might encounter, including the possibility of Red Deer and Bearded Tit. A recent innovation of providing grit trays within the reeds (the grit assists in the birds' digestion of seed) enabled us to have great views of this often elusive bird. The Bearded Tits had a successful breeding season at the reserve, with over 95 juveniles having been ringed by mid October.

Close by, both Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail were heard, although not seen. Good numbers of duck were seen, including Widgeon, Goldeneye and Pintail.

Having made a circuit of the reed beds, we made our way down to the salt marsh pools looking out to Morecambe Bay. There was general excitement with views of Great White Egret although Kingfisher and Peregrine also added to our enjoyment.

For many of the group, this was their first visit to Leighton Moss. However with the excellent visitor facilities and a group count of 65 species it probably won't be their last.