Leighton Moss

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Pheasant dressed for Venetian carnival

As the train trundled past the salt marsh in the sunshine, I could see scores of black and white birds that looked familiar. It was only when I got to Leighton Moss that I realised I had seen flocks of avocets. By the time I had walked back to the marsh 3 hours later, the tide was in and there were only a couple of avocets bobbing about. They were vastly outnumbered by black-headed gulls.

The teal and wigeon have largely gone and have been replaced by black-tailed godwits – looking distinctly auburn at this time of year.

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There were also a few shovelers, gadwall and great crested grebes. Lots of old favourites:

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and clichés:

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and non-birds:

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Greylag geese, I noticed, have pale ends to their bills:

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It was a beautiful spring day, with lots of birdsong and flying insects for the sand-martins to eat. I think I saw a willow warbler . . . or it might have been a cliffchaff . . . but I definitely saw the resident marsh harrier.

It’s a perfect time to see birds – they are in their finest plumage, and the leafless (only just – it won’t be long!) trees don’t hide them.

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