View from the Lower Hide. Pete Woodruff.
I paid the price for a visit to Leighton Moss today which happened to be my second choice, the first one abandoned due to circumstances out of my control.
The rewards for the first couple of hours were excellent and when I entered a deserted Lower Hide, straight out across the far side were 16 Little Egrets not visible in my moderate photograph above but honestly they are dead centre of the frame. It wasn't many minutes later that a juvenile Black Tern flew across the mere and perched on a post in the middle for the next thirty minutes, from my observations it appears to be the only one left from what was four birds during this week, 6 Greenshank were also at the back of the mere, and 2 Great-crested Grebe were of note. A little later on I noticed a few 'hirundines' in the air - some low some high - and eventually I estimated up to 100 House Martins with single numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin. But then came the best of the rewards I had already enjoyed when an Otter came in to view at 12.30 and 'porpoised' for several minutes, thirty five minutes later at 1.05 it appeared again, this time it eventually hauled itself out of the water on to the very area in front of the reeds where there was just five of the initial sixteen Little Egrets left, it stood staring at them within just a couple of metres, all the LE's were alert but not one of them moved off, the Otter then went back into the water and swam the full length in front of them and soon disappeared into the reeds....this is great stuff....and free of charge.
At the Public Hide I counted in excess of 200 Redshank, 3 Greenshank, and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. Anyone who knows the Leighton Moss Reserve will appreciate this island is just small and this number of waders on here definitely meant 'standing room only' and the Redshank number far exceeds anything like this figure on here before in my records book. At the Grisedale Hide things were a little quiet but I noted 4 Black-tailed Godwit and c.15 Gadwall with a similar number of Shoveler, and watched a Snipe feeding like a sewing machine at half speed, as I was leaving the hide I spotted a Peregrine Falcon over the woods opposite.
Now I was about to pay the price of a visit to the RSPB Reserve of Leighton Moss, when I stepped into the Lillian Hide I was reminded of the days when Saturday night meant an evening for me in the Melbourne Club, a lively working mans watering hole with the associated noise, the same environment inside this hide isn't 'my kind of birding' and I made a speedy exit. But things were not about to improve unfortunately and now I'm in the Eric Morecambe Hide where I counted 29 Little Egret on the Allan Pool along with 7 Greenshank, a Kingfisher perched close by, and 42 Wigeon were of note. But inside this hide was a group of about six people who had obviously decided a day at LM was a good idea for a social gathering to discuss just about anything and to hell with any suggestion of 'quiet please' in the hides....I went home!
By the way if you are planning to visit the Eric Morecambe complex it's more reminiscent of Lake Windermere at the moment with not a cat in hell's chance of finding a wader on there. This complex was once described to me many years ago now by a high profile ornithologist as one of the best in the north of England to which I readily agreed at the time....and - in the right condition - still do.