A beautiful day was forecast for Wednesday so I was determined to make the most of it and try and get some nice new photos for the blog and website.
In hindsight I wish I'd stayed closer at home and used less time travelling and maybe more photographing but I also had heard that a Great White Egret was at Leighton Moss and of course there are always good opportunities for Red Deer, Bittern and Bearded Tits there too.
I set off at 7.00am anticipating that the 86 mile journey could be done in 2 hrs as a good chunk of it would be on the motorways, how wrong was I? I arrived at the reserve at a few minutes to 10.00am so had already missed some opportunities especially on the salt marsh parts of the reserve where the sun is most favourable in the early morning and where you can get onto the reserve before the centre officially opens. I did not let that get me down though and was pleased when the centre staff told me that Bearded tits had been showing well on the grit trays adjacent to the causeway path to the Lower and Public hides. I set off but spoke to a gent coming in the opposite direction who informed me that there weren't any there during the 45 minutes he'd been waiting, this put me off going straight there as I didn't want to be standing around and missing opportunities to get other things, so I decided to shoot to the Griesdale and Tim Jackson hides for a quick look-see.
The Griesdale hide has to be my favourite hide on any reserve I've been to, other than for the fact that it is facing into the sun virtually all day. Why then is it my favourite? It is at a very low level and it is right up close to the action, in fact a local was telling me that on good days the Bearded tits are often on the reeds some 8-10 feet or closer to the hide, and the Red deer are often only 30 or so feet away. There are also great opportunities to get close up shots of the Marsh Harriers and occasionally Otter. Unfortunately Wednesday wasn't such a day. There was a Heron fishing very close to the hide though.
I saw him catch 3 fish and I believe that they were all small pike, the one in the above picture certainly was.
The Red Deer were around and a Stag was giving it his best shot at putting off others from encroaching onto his patch.
I then went back to the centre and on route got up close and personal with 2 Bearded Tits. They were flitting around in the reeds right next to the path, I stood stock still and they didn't seem to notice me, I was treated to a brief but very enjoyable view of two very pretty birds.
Back at the visitor centre I was told that the Bearded tits were still not visiting the grit trays so I decided to have a drive to the salt marsh hides and see what was there. I was actually very disappointed, because other than a large group of Black Tailed Godwits there was very little else. a few Greenshank, Redstart, Curlew, Little Egret, and snipe and that was about it. A Kingfisher did give a brief appearance but only as it dashed past the hide.
The Greenshank did come within range for a slightly cropped shot.
and the curlew just wouldn't come close enough, this is a huge crop.
although I do like the light on it's wings,
The Snipe came the closest. I managed this shot, it's only been slightly cropped for composition.
When I went back to the main part of the reserve I was told that there had been Beardies at the grit trays 20 minutes or so previously, so I set up and waited, and waited, and waited but with no result. I gave it a good 90 minutes and then called it a day.
During the day I chatted to some very nice people, one of whom I met at the Eric Morcambe hide. I later found out that this was a man who's pictures I have often admired on Birdguides website by the name of David Cookson. I did not introduce myself at the time, which I now regret, but had I done so I would have complemented him on his work, You should check out his pictures on Birdguides. He posted a stunning picture of a cuckoo a few weeks ago.
So the day wasn't perhaps as good as I'd hoped but I love Leighton Moss and thoroughly enjoyed the time there.