On an overcast and drizzly morning 15 of us set off to one of our favourite RSPB reserves at Leighton Moss in Cumbria. We had changed the venue at the last minute and thank goodness we did. What a day !

The ducks were in abundance at Lilian’s Hide. Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Widgeon & Pochard were all sighted along with 2 Great White Egrets, Mute Swans & Greylag. We also had good views of Marsh Harriers swooping over the reeds and Snipe feeding on the water’s edge.

Great White Egret


As we walked through the woodland which had been severely cut back, we were delighted to see Siskin on the path in front of us. Flitting in the trees we also saw Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Nuthatch and Tree Creeper.

At Grisedale Hide there was not much more to see. Moorhen, Little Egret, Lapwing & Lesser Black Backed Gull were the only additions.

We returned to Lilian’s for lunch & then made our way to the Causeway. On entering The Public Hide we were told that a Bittern had been seen so we sat and waited. Our patience was rewarded when it emerged from out of the reeds to chase off 2 Crows and scare a large number of Snipe. For some of our group it was the first time they had seen a Bittern so it was a real thrill! A few other species were also sighted at this hide namely Heron, Cormorant, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull and Great Crested Grebe.


Things got even better as at the bird feeding station there were no birds on the feeders, just a male Sparrowhawk eating his lunch !


We then made our way to the Morecambe Bay hides. The tide was high so there were not many waders. Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Shelduck & Great Black Backed Gull were added to our list. However the highlight were 2 Marsh Harriers flying low over the ground. One of them looked as if it was trying to catch something and it eventually ended up in a channel of water. We think it had got a Pintail. Most strange behaviour.

During the day the usual Corvids were seen including a Raven, but the highlights have to be the Bittern, Sparrowhawk and the strange behaviour of the 2 Marsh Harriers. An unbelievable and memorable day that we shall never forget! In total 51 species were recorded by the group.

Report and Photographs by Marg Smith