COACH TRIP TO LEIGHTON MOSS 1 APRIL 2012
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We set off on what was to be a gloriously sunny day, despite a rather gloomy weather forecast. As Brian was in sunnier climes, Steve ably took the helm, leading 25 members and friends. This is a brilliant reserve because of the diversity of habitat, giving us a good chance of a variety of species. Our first stop was at Leighton Moss visitors’ centre to use the facilities, before heading down to the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, as high tide had been at about 7am. These pools on the salt marsh on the edge of Morecambe Bay did not disappoint and as usual, proved very productive.

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There were already a good number of avocets and some of the black-tailed godwits (left) had a lovely rusty coloured breast, as they changed into summer plumage. There were several redshank and one highlight of these brackish water pools were 2 spotted redshank (right). A little egret was present and a variety of duck, including teal, wigeon and pintail.

After a couple of hours here we went back to the main part of the reserve and a warden came out to issue us with permits and give us a brief run-down of what we might expect to see. A glossy ibis was mentioned and it had been seen on previous days, but no one saw it today. Some people headed to the café for an early lunch – the food is always good here. Others headed off around the reserve, to the different hides, to see what there was on the fresh water pools and in the woodland. The Tim Jackson hide was out of action, as it was being replaced.

There was evidence of birds breeding, with nesting material being carried. Some people were treated to a spectacle of 5 marsh harriers (below left) in the air at once, some of which were carrying twigs. The ducks, especially the shovelers, all seemed to be paired up. Some of the summer migrants had arrived, with chiffchaff, sand martin, house martin and swallow all spotted.

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The 2 bird feeders near the visitors’ centre had good numbers of blue, great and coal tits, chaffinch, greenfinch and bullfinch, as well as a great spotted woodpecker and a nuthatch. One of the specialities of the area, the marsh tit, was seen by all members, as one was on the feeder, while the warden was talking to us. Talking of Leighton Moss specialities, no one heard or saw a bittern, but bearded tit was heard by some members. A Cetti's warbler was also heard.

A lot of money is being spent on the reserve at present. A new viewing platform has been built alongside the feeders at the back of the centre. While we were there Radio Lancashire was doing a live broadcast. There was obvious work being carried out in the car park and there were plans on the wall at the back of the centre for many more improvements, including replacing some of the older hides and building a tower to give a better view over Morecambe Bay.

After a very successful and thoroughly enjoyable day, we set off home with a total of 63 species seen and another 4 heard. Everything had gone very smoothly, until our 11ft 7 inch high coach came across a 10ft 6 inch low bridge!!

MARGARET A

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