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Bearded Tits at Leighton Moss 2017

September 27, 2017  •  1 Comment

Bearded Tits at Leighton Moss 2017

The end of September usually hails the arrival of Bearded Tits onto the grit trays at Leighton Moss and, according to the sightings book and the local staff, this year is no different. So, with that in mind and the Purple Heron still being around and regular sightings of the Otters, I decided to be up there reasonably early. As is usual whenever I go out recently, I arrived (at 08:30) just as the last of the Bearded Tits left the trays. Seen but didn't get chance to get any images. Stayed around for an hour or more but alas, nothing showed.

Moved on to the Grisedale hide, checking out the sightings book on the way, only to find that the Purple Heron had been seen twice already and had flown away agin ten minutes earlier, so......missed that too!  

The website recent sightings said that the Kingfisher had been showing well at the Eric Morecambe Hide along with Peregrines and the Great Egret, so..... I went there, calling in on Allen Hide as well, and guess what?......yep, no kingfisher to be seen and worse still, walked through the door only to hear people shout that they had just seen a Peregrine "take out" a Redshank in mid-air, but had gone down behind glass.....so, missed that as well!  That left the Great Egret, which was visible but so far away that it was useless from an image point of view, even as a record shot! Managed some really nice images though, of a Little Egret as he strayed ever closer to the hide.

Peek -a-boo!!

Went for the afternoon sun lighting up the Causeway pool and the prospect of Otter sightings. Sat there for half an hour when an Otter appeared in the distance in front of the Lower Hide Pool. He swam to the right of the causeway pool, coming closer to the causeway, then crossed the pool several times as he stalked/ or seemed to stalk the ducks, Coots and Moorhens along the way. Great to watch but no really good opportunities for good images to be taken. The best thing was that he stayed around for at least 2 hours, always visible and sometimes only 20 or so yards away!

On one occasion, he actually came right up to the hide on the right hand side, trying to creep up on a few Mallard that were on the reeds. He was less that 15 feet away, the guy sat on the right at the end had some very good images, but..... yep, you guessed it..... there were reeds in the way from where I was sat!......Sods Law!

However, the final act from the otter was to spend the last twenty-five minutes before he disappeared, fighting with another otter that appeared from the Lower Hide direction. It seemed to be getting a bit heated and for a time it looked really convincing! but, at the end, they swam off together in the same direction. Quite a nice finish to the day.

Otters at Play?Playfight or something a bit more "serious"?

Next morning, I was up earlier and was at the grit trays by 08.00. Within fifteen minutes there were a couple of Bearded Tits on the trays. At first they headed straight for the trays, not leaving us any chance of some "reed" shots! They soon disappeared only to reappear several times over the next 2 hours or so, spending time in the reeds occasionally, making for some good images.

Leighton Moss Bearded TitsGritting up for the day!

The promised sun did not appear, so the light wasn't that good and the morning wasn't a "still" morning as they had forecast either! The reeds were moving quite significantly in the breeze. So the shutter speed had to be higher than I would have liked, as were the ISO's. So I guess the moral of the story is, wait until a sunny and calm morning is forecast.....and get there early, and just hope that it is as bright and as sunny and as still day as they said it would be! (especially as you have probably had to drive for an hour or more to get there!)

Male Bearded Tit (un-ringed)

Devote a couple of hours to them at least, as just when you leave, they tend to show up soon after!

Female Bearded Tit

When at the grit trays, the best side to stand is as far over to the left hand side as you are able, as you have a clearer view of the birds as they come out of the reeds. Also, the birds usually appear from deep within the reeds themselves, so the earliest warning you can hope to expect being the "twitching" of the reed stems behind the grit trays.

Leighton Moss Bearded Tits (ringed)Making for the grit trays

The thing about Leighton Moss that I have found to be most valuable is to give the hide that you are in a chance.....instead of always thinking that the next hide is going to be better......you will be more likely to see something there, than when walking around the reserve as the reeds are 18 inches taller that the average person! Here are just a few other shots of the day at Leighton.

Heron on the rampage!

Marsh Harrier in evening sun.

Heron landing at Causeway Hide

Egret in evening sun

My favourite shot of the day!

Good luck on your visit.

 

 

 


Comments

Paul Bennett(non-registered)
Great write up Les as well as some nice images my friend, I'll be trying to get up there next week all being well but no guarantees.
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