On our way to Scotland for a week’s holiday, Helen and I stopped at Leighton Moss in Cumbria for an hour today. This was our third visit to Leighton Moss, and wow was the weather different this time! Our two previous weekend trips to the reserve were in the depths of very cold Winters with thick ice and frost underfoot. Today it was a scorching Summer’s day with the temperature in the high twenties celsius when we arrived mid-afternoon.
We quickly realised that we wouldn’t be able to visit the distant hides – both time and temperature were against us. So we first decided to climb the Tower Viewing Point to survey the entire reserve from a great height.
The view from up high was excellent. We could see over a huge swathe of the reserve, both lakes and reedbeds, and noted that there weren’t a huge number of birds which had been daft-enough to venture out in the blistering heat of the day!
Our favourite part of the reserve takes us along the path in the direction of the two hides: ‘Tim Jackson’ and Grisedale. From the Visitor Centre this path goes through woodland with lots of tall shrubs and trees on either side. Each time passing along this way we’ve been enthralled at the numbers of small birds that can be seen. The very first time we stopped here we didn’t quite know which way to point our cameras as we were treated to simultaneous sightings of: Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Jay, Nuthatch and several other more-common species – fabulous!
Today wasn’t quite so productive, but we still had good sightings of birds which included Nuthatch, Marsh Warbler and Dunnock.
We continued on our way along the path, through the shrubbery and tall reedbeds which allowed lots of bird calls to be heard but hid the birds themselves from view.
On reaching ‘Tim Jackson’ Hide we sat watching the pond before us. A number of dabbling ducks were on show, but the real stars here were a couple of rather distant Marsh Harrriers which flew round and round, high above the main lake in the beautiful cloudless blue sky.
All too soon, alas, we had to return to the car to complete our journey. It was very different seeing Leighton Moss in the Summer!