Thursday, April 16, 2015

Northward Ho! 20.3.2015

Realised that the Travelodge I'd chosen is not the best when you're intending to visit the RSPB Leighton Moss Reserve. A frustrating loop northwards and then south got me to the reserve  where I finally got my breakfast.  Visited various ones of the hides and admired the high viewing tower which they're building. It seems the water levels are to be drawn down to expose more mud, encourage the extension of the reedbeds and, thereby, help to improve the numbers and conditions for Bitterns. So a couple of years of increased waders perhaps?  It was always slightly frustrating in the past whilst I was with RSPB to receive letters of complaint when initiatives of this sort were undertaken.  In order to support bird communities within given locations it is sometimes necessary to carry out what seems to be pretty drastic management tasks in order to improve or maintain circumstances. Not everyone sees it that way with the interruption to viewing opportunities being considered a higher priority by some.  Sadly, in this island of ours, we haven't the vast expanses of habitat available elsewhere and we have to try and retain the highest quality of habitat possible within the patchwork quilt of areas we call our "reserves".

There was little of any real note at the main reserve other than an odd Marsh Harrier so I went down to the part of the reserve that abuts the salt-marsh on the edge of Morecambe Bay. The tide was high and waders were gathered together in tight packed groups. Lots of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit were in evidence and a Kingfisher flashed past at one point.

With time pressing I commenced my journey northwards and eventually reached Dumfries.  I'd expected to see rather more geese about but I came across no flocks. I reminded myself that it was approaching the end of March where, as happens on Islay, presumably the birds gather together at particular favourite haunts prior to their departure. And so I arrived on the Solway Firth, an area where , in previous times, I'd visited during many successive winters. It's gone through a lot of changes with many of the wetter patches of marsh randomly scattered around now having disappeared. However, the landscape carries variety and excessive charm and is always a joy to be within.
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