Monday, 20 May 2013

Out of my Area: Leighton Moss

Yesterday morning I packed my bins, my scope and my Eurovision hangover, and was out of the house at 6.30. I headed to Paisley to meet the folks from the Renfrewshire bird group, and from there we took a warm, cramped coach ride to Leighton Moss.

We breifly stopped off at the Eric Morcambe hide first, checking in on the waders and wildfowl. Quickly allowing us to rack up Avocet, Little Egret, Shelduck, Black Tailled Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Teal, Black Headed Gull, Gadwall and - from the side of the path - Sedge warbler, Long Tailled Tit, and Cetti's warbler. Then it was back on the bus to the main reserve.

Avocet from the Eric Morecambe hide
After 3 hours and 30 minutes on the coach I was beginning to realise just how antisocial I have become in my time on Cumbrae. Explaining that I was heading to look for bearded tits first, I slunk off in the opposite direction to everyone else, heading for the public hide and the scrapes.

The first thing I found was the insects, the air was thick with them; and they were obviously feeding the host of warblers that I could hear in the reeds. As i looked above the reeds a marsh harrier was lazily flapping to gain height. I rattled off a few blurry shots in case I was the only on to get a glimpse that day (I needn't have bothered).

Then, as I stood at the edge of one of the scrapes, there was a bouncing flash of honey brown, a long tail, and bright underside - bearded tit. Tick. 

The causeway was a fly smorgasbord

Blurry Harrier
 When I got tired of the flies and increasing numbers of people I headed back toward the main reserve. Catching up with Gary and some of the others on the way. From their view over the marsh we could watch 3 harriers working the reed beds; then another raptor broke the skyline, too light underneath for a marsh harrier. What do you know, Osprey (we later caught up with the same individual sat in a tree at the Greisedale hide).

As I left the others and headed back towards the hides I past Eddie, who said he'd had marsh tit at the feeders about 40 mins before. But as I wandered round I couldn't catch sight of one. I checked out the other hides and added Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted duck and Shovellor to the list, then decided it was time to sample the reserve's supplies of coffee and cake (They're both excellent by the way).

With 30 minutes left until we were due back on the bus I nipped down to the feeders, finally adding Marsh tit to the day total (and the year list), and getting great vies of bullfinch and nuthatch.

Nuthatch at the feeders

Marsh tit at the feeders

I just missed the last ferry on the way home, so I decided to head down to Portencross to see what was moving off-shore, then kip in the car. I added Shag, Razorbill, Gannet, Herring and Greater and Lessser Black Backed gulls, and Cuckoo to the day total.

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