Re­serve some time for na­ture this springtime

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

A LIT­TLE bit of sun­shine goes a long way, and last week­end was a great way to kick-start Spring.

Per­son­ally, I spent the week­end in South­port: ice-cream on the prom, face-paint­ing, and the kids’ train along the pier - well, I was with the Rugby Club lads as our 1st XV were play­ing South­port.

As for reg­u­lar read­ers, I wouldn’t rec­om­mend the face-paint, although it did seem like a good idea at the time to be made up as blue tigers.

How­ever, I would en­cour­age you all to visit one of my favourite re­serves over the next few months, and you can make a start this Easter by head­ing up the M6 to dis­cover won­der­ful wildlife at RSPB Leighton Moss na­ture re­serve.

Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in north-west Eng­land, and home to some re­ally spe­cial birds in­clud­ing the star species...

Avo­cets can be seen from the hides over­look­ing the Allen and Eric More­cambe pools in spring and sum­mer, while bearded tits are a year-round at­trac­tion in the ex­ten­sive reedbeds.

The tits form flocks in au­tumn and can of­ten be seen pick­ing up grit from spe­cial ta­bles on the cause­way or di­rectly from the paths.

Bit­terns can be heard ‘boom­ing’ from the cause­way be­tween March and May. Scan over the reed beds and you may catch a glimpse of one in flight - par­tic­u­larly in May and June. You may also see one sit­ting at the edge of the pools on frosty win­ter days.

Spring brings dis­play­ing marsh har­ri­ers to Leighton Moss. The males and fe­males are busy feed­ing their young through­out sum­mer and can of­ten be seen hunt­ing over the reed bed.

Watch from the hides for wa­ter rails emerg­ing to feed on the edge of the chan­nels and pool within the reed bed. They may ven­ture onto ex­posed mud when the wa­ter drops in late sum­mer and au­tumn or onto ice in win­ter.

Of course there are many more species to see, and you may spot ot­ters and deer as well.

Over the next few weeks the war­dens have or­gan­ised some great fun events for the kids.

‘Birds in the Barn’ of­fers fam­i­lies a rare chance to ex­plore the new wild­flower meadow at Leighton Moss and learn more about birds through this ex­cit­ing ori­en­teer­ing event.

No need to book just drop-in be­tween 1-3pm on Wed­nes­day, April 5, 12 and 19.

Fam­i­lies are in­vited to un­cover ‘What Lives Be­neath’ at a spe­cial pond dip­ping event on Thurs­day, April 6 and 20. Drop-in be­tween 10.30am and 3.30pm to take part.

Ever been on sa­fari? ‘Minibeast Sa­faris’ at Leighton Moss of­fer the chance for vis­i­tors to turn de­tec­tive and ex­pe­ri­ence the fas­ci­nat­ing world of creepy crawlies.

Drop-in be­tween 10.30am-12.30pm, 1.30-3.30pm on Thurs­day, April 13.

‘Tots Tile Trail’ is an ad­ven­ture trail which pro­vides the youngest vis­i­tors with the chance to ex­plore the sen­sory gar­den at Leighton Moss.

Drop-in ses­sions on Wed­nes­day, April 5, 12 and 19, and Thurs­day, April 6, 13 and 20 April, be­tween 10.30-11.30am.

It’s at RSPB Leighton Moss and More­cambe Bay na­ture re­serve, My­ers Farm, Storrs Lane, Sil­verdale, LA50SW.

For fur­ther de­tails visit rspb.org.uk/leighton moss or phone 01524 701601.

An av­o­cet with its dis­tinc­tive fea­tures

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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