On our way to the Lake District, we decided to stop off at Leighton Moss. As soon as we arrived a marsh harrier drifted overhead and then proceeded to circle over the reed beds. It was a beautiful sunny day with a mild breeze that passed through the reeds, creating a eerie hissing sound.
During the walk up to the first hide many tame robins, blackbirds and chaffinches wandered around, picking up any available seeds or scraps of food left out. The path then continued directly through the middle of the reed bed and from here, the calls of numerous bearded tits were evident. After many minutes waiting, these shy birds briefly left the reeds and flew overhead.
In the hide, a pair of marsh harriers flew across the extensive reed bed. As the day loomed on my list of species grew: a lone lapwing danced over water and then proceeded to land on a water edge scrape and at the Morecambe pools, a huge flock of black tailed godwits materialised on the many islands rising above the water surface. A few meters in front of the hide a small party of avocets fed energetically.
Although far away, a magnificent spoonbill stood on a grassy knoll, the last light of the day passing over its luminous back. This bird’s vibrant white plumage and huge size was rivalled by a great white egret in the reed bed behind.
The scene was like that of a Mediterranean lagoon – in the north of England. With global warming, egrets and other closely related species are becoming an ever more usual sight in Britain. This scene is likely to become increasingly common.