WFV, Leighton Moss, 16th October 2018

Great White EgretGreat White EgretWe started our visit to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve at the shore hides, with the first stop being the Eric Morecambe hide. Within minutes we were watching a Kingfisher in flight, perching and fishing. There was a large flock of Redshank in clusters across the water, and their sudden take to the air alerted us to the arrival of a Peregrine. It took several attempts but it managed to grab one from the circling flock and taking it to ground to pluck and eat. 

Rather more serenely, on the opposite shore we identified two Red Breasted Merganser in eclipse plumage and in one view could compare Little Egret, Great White Egret and a Grey Heron. Although there were recent reports of hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits it seems like a sudden rise in water levels had dispersed them and our sighting was restricted to a singleton disguised in a group of Redshank.

Once we transferred to the main area of the reserve, the thirteen participants dispersed to explore their own interests at their own speed. 

Alice identified an area of Water Pepper alongside the boardwalk through the reeds. In total she recorded 39 species of plant in flower or fruit. There was some late colour offered by Musk Mallow, Viper's Bugloss and Wild Marjoram. The flowering ivy was abuzz with feeding insects. The lovely autumn sunshine encouraged the Common Darter and Migrant Hawker dragonflies. The most common fungi seen was the Blushing Bracket.

From the Causeway hide we saw a group of Greenshank, two Merlin (again attention drawn to them by the disturbance of the birds on the water, though this time they left without food) and a wisp of Snipe flew overhead. Marsh Harriers were seen flying over the reeds by Lilian's hide and from the tree tower.  

All in all an interesting and rewarding day, and a good decision by John to start off at the shore, as we often run out of time to include these hides. Thanks to Stuart for doing the majority of the driving.

Julia