Coach Trip to Leighton Moss 24 April 2016

After the sunny and warm days midweek, the forecast for the 30 club members setting off for Silverdale was for showers and plunging temperatures. Arriving at the reserve just after 9am we had some 20 minutes to explore the new landscaping at the rear of the Visitor Centre before opening time. A handsome male Bullfinch was the star of the feeders.

We split up into groups to explore the reserve: my first stop was to climb the new Skytower platform, which gave an impressive overview of the reed bed. From here we had excellent views of Goosander, Redshank, Ruff, Gadwall, Teal and Black Tailed Godwit. Moving on via Lilian's hide to the northern part of the reserve we used the new boardwalk which now skirts the edge of the reed bed, avoiding the need to use the road. Along this section we had views of Willow Warbler and heard Chiffchaff and Reed warbler calling.


Walking down to the new improved Causeway hide, I was taunted by a Cetti’s Warbler which eluded me both times I passed. I had the distinct feeling I was mere inches from the bird calling, all the more frustrating when I learned many others members had managed to get excellent views. From the hide we had great views of up to 4 Marsh Harriers, one female flying right in front of us. The small island close to the hide was shared by a Goosander and a pair of Greater Black-backed Gulls who departing from their normal aggressive image were certainly showing their caring side, with displays of mutual preening.

It was pleasing to see the large numbers of Sand Martins and Swallows flying over the water and the few House Martins and half a dozen Swifts were my first sightings of the year. A further highlight on leaving the Lower hide, from where two fortunate members had views of an otter, was a roosting Tawny Owl that was well camouflaged in the trees despite being yards from the boardwalk. Hats off to whoever first found it!


Just before returning to the coach at 3pm for the short transfer down to the Morecambe Bay hides, I was lucky to observe a Marsh Tit on the feeders.


From the Allen hide we had really close views of about ten Avocets, some were on eggs and it was fascinating to watch the birds rolling and turning the eggs under the watchful eyes of the Gulls and occasional crow. Moving on to the Eric Morecambe hide, the surprise here was the presence of five magnificent Mediterranean Gulls amongst the numerous Black Headed Gulls. The lagoons also held Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret and Curlew.

Most of us just managed to return to the coach just before the first really heavy rain of the day but even those of us that were caught in the downpour remained in high spirits after an excellent day's birding, with an impressive 78 species recorded, which turned out to be the third highest total for a trip in the last 3 years.

Photos by Robert D

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