Travel Wildlife

Birding at RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire

I love Leighton Moss! I’ve wanted to go ever since I saw it on Springwatch and on the May Day bank holiday I seized the chance. Its a one and a half hour drive from Manchester and it was worth it. I only wish I had an electric car but there is a train station nearby in Silverdale.


There were lots of pheasants around as it is that season where those things happen. This beautiful male appears to have lost his tail!


We walked to the causeway first, we saw some waterfowl from the public hide and bumped into this very photogenic robin, its easy to see why they are one of our most photographed British birds.


Here I am, desperately searching the reeds for a bearded tit. I didn’t see one, unless of course you count my boyfriend. I did however spy a sedge warbler and I could hear a beautiful cacophony of sound coming from the reeds. It really is an incredible reedbed and you can see why so many of our rare species like the bittern, bearded tit and the waterrail choose to live here.


On our way to the boringly named lower hide we saw these beauties in a field. Gorgeous baby greylag geese. Twelve to be exact and these weren’t the only ones on the reserve.


This stunning peacock butterfly put in an appearance on the way to the hide. It was a gorgeous sunny day and it showed off the wildlife in its full glory!


Despite its unexciting name, the Lower Hide was my absolute favourite hide, there was a mother duck and her ducklings foraging in the undergrowth and we saw two little grebes. One of the marsh harrier also put in a brief appearance! I liked it as the hide was tucked away but you still got great views of nature.


On the way back we saw this fellow building a nest, I’m not absolutely sure which warbler it is – perhaps a chiffchaff? Answers on a postcard please.


On the garden route we saw some lovely and surprisingly tame garden birds. This slightly bedraggled blue tit was using the nest box near this bench and came out to snack on some grain.


This great tit posed in front of the viewing tower, where you can look over the reserve.


This nuthatch showed no fear when posing on a branch.


From the Grisedale hide I could see this lapwing on its nest.


I also spotted the garganey, as well as this gadwall swimming about next to the log.


In the little pool near the visitors centre, we watched these delightful moorhen chicks! The parent swam off and some of the chicks joined her and some stayed in the nest, they had only recently hatched as you could see the eggshell in the water. It was like watching a live fledging! They all hunkered down together in the end though as you can see here.

In the bush nearby was a male blackcap and the feeders were busy with chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, pheasant, woodpigeon and a very wily grey squirrel.

We went to the visitor centre for a scone and cake. I also picked up a second hand Hamlyn guide to the blackcap for £3.50 so I was pleased with that.

We then drove to the second part of the reserve for some avocet action, I’ve only ever seen avocets in the RSPB Minsmere reserve so I was excited.


The area near Morecambe Bay was a hive of activity as you can see from the black-headed gull action above. There were a few nesting but no chicks as yet. There were also some shelduck lurking around.


We saw some avocet’s mating as well – great news for the future of this bird! These two were too busy eating to be involved in any of that.


There were a few oystercatchers knocking about, didn’t see any steamy romance from them though.

Here is my full list from the day:

  • Sedge warbler
  • Chaffinch
  • Robin
  • Blackbird
  • Greenfinch
  • Mute Swan
  • Coot
  • Moorhen
  • Swallow
  • Gadwall
  • Tufted duck
  • Mallard
  • Pochard
  • Greylag goose and goslings
  • Shoveler
  • Lapwing
  • Teal
  • Marsh harrier
  • Oystercatcher
  • Common gull
  • Great crested gull
  • Little grebe
  • Wren
  • Moorhen and chicks
  • Blackcap
  • Pheasants
  • Magpie
  • Blue tit
  • Shelduck
  • Woodpigeon
  • Nuthatch
  • Bullfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Black tailed godwit
  • Garganey
  • Avocet
  • Black headed gull
  • Lesser black backed gull
  • Little egret
  • Grey heron
  • Great egret
  • Willow warbler

And finally…


And last but not least we saw this fellow, singing away with its whole body vibrating…and it sounded just like a grasshopper! Thats right, it was a grasshopper warbler. A lifer for me and a great way to end an amazing day.

On the drive home we saw a kestrel by the motorway as an added bonus. Thank you Leighton Moss, I’ll be back.

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