Sunday, 19 April 2015

Up north - day 5

We made an early start this morning, as our destination - RSPB Leighton Moss - is a fair old drive away. The day started quite brightly but on the way I fell asleep in the car and when I woke we were being battered by heavy rain. This eased up quite quickly but it wasn't until mid-afternoon that the sun came out. You'll know that this means lots of rather dull and noisy photos to come...

We spent a bit of time watching the feeders near the car park, and a bit more time in Lilian's hide. Then it was off towards the Public hide, where the most evident wildlife was a pair of Black-headed Gulls directly in front of us.

Far, far off in the corner of the lake, an Otter or possibly two Otters could be seen occasionally surfacing. This was a thrill of course (I'd never seen Otters in England before) but they really were too far off for discernable photos.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes that were dozing nearby woke up, and came together for some head-shaking. Then they parted and dived, and when I saw they'd surfaced with weed in their bills I knew what was coming.

Not sure where this Pochard was going but he was in quite a rush.

On the way round to Lower hide, we were treated to close views of a male Marsh Harrier collecting nesting material.

The trail through woods to Lower hide is attended by a number of Pheasants which have no fear of people at all, and a spanking male plus about seven females were soon milling around our feet. We indulged them with some handouts of seed.

I took the opportunity to get some frame-fillers of Pheasant plumage.

From Lower hide we had, as I'd hoped, better views of the Otters. There were three in all. The photos are distant, and dull, but I'm still thrilled with them.

On the way back we stopped for more Pheasant-feeding, and also encountered a hand-tame Robin. While this was going on, a stunning Stoat legged it past us in the field opposite.

We stopped at the dipping ponds near Lilian's hide to look for the male Redstart that had been reported here, but couldn't find it. There was a very excitably singing Wren as compensation.

Back at the visitor centre we had a bit of lunch and then set off to look at the other half of the reserve. Almost immediately we bumped into a pair of Treecreepers. The male was foraging and then bringing his catches back to his mate - this is her, waiting patiently at the bottom of the tree.

Along the way here are several nice gnarly fallen trees which serve as good baiting spots to attract little birds. This male Nuthatch was coming down for sunflower seeds...

... while at ground level a lovely little Bank Vole sneaked out to hoover up fallen crumbs.

Up in the trees were a couple of Marsh Tits.

We visited the two hides at the far end of this trail but there wasn't a lot to see, so we decided to return and head off to the Morecambe Bay bit of the reserve.

Here were plenty of birds, though not that much variety and light was tricky. The Black-tailed Godwit count must have been in the low thousands. There were also quite a few Avocets dotted about, and a handful of Pintails.

We went on to another site for the close of play - I'm not saying where just out of paranoia, as they have had some issues with disturbance of the special birds nesting there, namely Peregrines and Ravens, both of which we saw. And that was the end of our last full day in the north-west. Thank you very much to Hazel and Mike for showing us a most excellent time.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Hi Marianne.
What a super five day wildlife extravaganza!
Far too many great pics to pick a favourite from and as ever, an entertaining read. I shall put 'up North' on the top of my must visit list!