Autumn is certainly on its way and at RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale, that means some of its most secretive residents – the bearded reedlings, are coming out of hiding, offering visitors a greater chance of spotting these elusive birds.
Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in North West England, home to rare and special wildlife. Bearded reedlings, also known as bearded tits, are very uncommon and rely on this special environment to live in. They first began breeding at the reserve in 1973 and their numbers have been closely monitored by dedicated staff and volunteers ever since.
Earlier this year, following stormy weather that flooded the reserve, it was feared the bearded reedling population may have declined. However, through ringing studies, where young birds have colour coded leg rings fitted, staff at the nature reserve have found that it has been another good year for these secretive birds.
Kevin Kelly, Visitor Operations Manager at RSPB Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve said: “We have caught or seen nine adult males and ten adult females so far this summer, as well as fitted colour rings to 22 baby birds and nine other young bearded tits. This shows that there have been plenty of successful breeding attempts despite the challenging weather conditions last winter.”
Kevin added: “Autumn is the best time of year to come and see these iconic reedbed residents, as they venture out onto special grit trays. We put the trays out for them to stock up on grit which helps them digest reed seeds – their main food source during the cold winter months.”
Visitors can look for bearded reedlings at Leighton Moss any day in October but for the best chance to see these rare birds feeding on the grit trays, take a walk down the Causeway between 9.30 am-12 pm.