Thursday of our Lakeland holiday saw us waking up to rain, and mist over the hills. We had check the weather report at the pub last night, and already had vague plans to drive to RSPB Leighton Moss, which claims to be the largest reed bed in the North West. The rain and mist made up our minds RSPB would be the destination today.
The drive took about and hour and twenty, on mixed roads, a bit tedious but it was raining and we had the Desert Island Discs archive to while the time away. We (or should I say TomTom) found RSPB Leighton Moss easily. Once parked up I said to Helen “where are the binoculars?” We had managed to forget them back at the hut. In future we must both make sure we do binocular checks before we leave to visit a reserve. All was not lost, the RSPB will loan binoculars to forgetful members, like us FOC.
The helpful volunteer on the desk kitted us out with binoculars in exchange for Helen’s credit card, then gave us a virtual tour of the reserve. We headed out to Lilian’s hide apparently opened by John Prescott, the main attraction is the gull roost. We could not spot any other gulls than black headed, but there were a few ducks about. When we got a sense that the rain had eased off we made a break for the next hide.
There was not much to see from the public hide so after a quick scan we moved on to the Low Hide, not much going on there either, but it was a good place to watch the Marsh Harriers, and the Swifts flying past. It stopped raining so we took the opportunity to walk back to the visitor centre for some RSPB lunch. On the way we saw and heard Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings.
At the cafe Helen had from the Kiddies menu beans and a veggie sausage (called sunshine beans on the menu great value at £2.10) and I had a Lancashire cheese baguette. Next we got drove down the road to the beach side hides that over look the marshes.
From the Eric Morecombe hide there were some Black-tailed Godwits, Little Egrets, Redshank, and plenty of Avocets, with chicks. From the Allen hide more Avocets and some Oyster catchers all with chicks. Next it wasa back to thje visitors centre to check out the last two hides.
Great views of Lapwings flying close in front of the hide, and a Gadwall pair. The lapwings were so close we could hear their wings beating against the air. We also saw a flock of 8 Little Egret fly over, which I think is the most I have ever seen so close.
The Tim Jackson (died in an accident bird watching!) hide has recently bee rebuilt, and a lovely hide it is. A bit more activity lots of Gadwall out the front with the usual gaggle of Black-headed Gulls. Over the back of the lagoon we could see a Red Deer and a young doe gambling back and forth without any care, the velvet covered antlers of a stag could also be seen in the long grass at the edge of the reeds. On the way back to the shop I noticed a small mammal running towards me on the path I stood still and signalled to He’ll to do so too, the small creature stood and looked at me for a bit then ran into the under growth. Most likely it was a Weasel but it could have been a Stoat. We left the reserve at 16:30, to take a mountain pass home.
The mountain pass through Ulpha and across Birker fell did not disappoint, the climb up was very steep, but once we were up on the fell, the road flattened out and you could see far ahead, and the descent down into Eskdale was quite restrained. The pass had cut quite some miles but no time off the journey.
We were back bay 17:45 and felt we had made the most of the day by driving whilst it was raining. then doing the wildlife whilst the weather cleared up, culminating with sun as we drove over the mountain pass. We quickly dumped our stuff at the hut and headed back to Brook House Inn at Boot, some of it’s great beer and food.
The food lived up to our expectations, and was excellent, the menu was a fluid as it was yesterday, as we arrived some choices were removed and new ones added. I had the last Deep fried king prawns, with salsa, salad and chips, before that was taken down, and Helen had Feta and Spinach pie with boiled potatoes and a salad. As for beer we both had the Hawshead Brewery Windemere Pale.