We’ve had some pretty wet weather this autumn, but the weekends have often coincided with sunny spells. Back in early October we had just such a weekend. I didn’t head off for a long walk at any point, but instead I was out several times, in various company, for a number of short walks, which, taken together, added up to a very memorable weekend.
My friend and colleague the Proper Birder had alerted me to the fact that otters and bearded tits had both recently been spotted from the public footpath across Leighton Moss, so on the Saturday morning I took A and B for a stroll there. We discovered that the causeway path was flooded, and without wellies, had to curtail our walk rather sooner than anticipated. We did converse with a friendly robin however, and admired a particularly large inkcap.
That afternoon I was operating a Dad’s Taxi Service, dropping A with some friends for a sleepover. Our friends live in a wonderful spot at the head of the Lyth valley. The sun was shining and butterflies were fluttering around their garden. We decided to take a stroll, going ‘off-piste’ and taking a direct route up onto Lord’s Lot. Perhaps not one of the Lake District’s biggest or most frequented hills, but a cracking viewpoint all the same.
We stopped a little short of the top on a gratifyingly rocky little knoll…
…with expansive views of Scout Scar, and the Lyth Valley…
…and also a view across the actual summit to some more famous and recognisable Lakeland fells…
On the way home I stopped off to buy myself some wellies so that early the next morning B and I could take a pre-breakfast trip back to Leighton Moss…
We settled down in the public hide, watched a late marsh harrier gliding over the reed beds, and then B tugged excitedly on my sleeve, “Did you see it Dad? The otter?”
I didn’t. It was right in front of the hide apparently. I managed to miss it the next time too. But then I was looking in the right direction when something large and sleek fluidly cleared the surface and then duck-dived beneath it again. It was a very fleeting glimpse. “Maybe it was a fish,” I suggested. “Bit big for a fish,” B snorted derisively.
When we saw it again it was heading away from us. Then it swam across the back of the mere, either close enough to the surface for us to follow its wake, or with its head above water….
Not a great picture of an otter I know, but I don’t really care, I’ve been waiting to see the local otters for years. Magic.
By the grit trays there was a fair collection of Very Serious Men and their Extremely Expensive Optical Equipment. No bearded tits though.
Home for breakfast, B and I found that TBH and S had not, as we’d thought, been asleep when we left, but had heard us set-off and were a bit miffed to have been left behind. We mollified them with a promise of an immediate return to the Moss, just as soon as we polished off our fry-up.
Here’s S in his bird-watching outfit…
You can see that he’s well wrapped up – it wasn’t as warm as the day before had been. Never-the-less, butterflies were out sunning themselves again….
Back by the grit trays, S wasn’t intimidated by the Serious Birders
penis substitutes expensive tackle*, he pushed right-in to get a peek at….
…the bearded tits…
TBH was disappointed that the ‘beards’ weren’t full-on flowing ZZ-Top style thatch. Very lovely birds though, and something else I’ve waited many years to see. Switching over from a summer diet of insects, the tits are picking up grit which will help them to digest the hard seeds which they eat in the winter months.
…were very taken with the flooded paths and so we wandered a little farther, past the public hide and round to lower hide were we watched a heron fishing right in front of the hide.
The paths were clearly already beginning to drain, but the water was still quite deep in places…
I was chuffed with my new boots, even if they are green.
As we wended our way back to the car, we were treated to some quite close views of a circling buzzard.
A buzzard at Leighton Moss? That would be a Leighton Buzzard then? (Sorry)
*Yes, yes – I have camera envy.