Purple Heron (juvenile), Leighton Moss [CLICK PHOTO FOR LIGHTBOX]

Another grand day out with Mark Varley was completely focused on getting some acceptable photos of the Purple Heron at Leighton Moss, however, we saw a lot of other good birds during our six and a half hours in the Grisedale Hide today. A Great Egret, a couple of Little Egrets and the now outnumbered(!) Grey Heron also made an appearance. Two Marsh Harriers (a very worn old female and a juvenile) were quartering the reedbed and an Osprey flew over heading southwest. A female Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard completed the raptor line up. Mark spotted an otter in the heron's favourite feeding pool but it soon made off, probably owing to the ultra noisy hide (one of the downsides of birding Leighton these days). Unfortunately the forecasted rain arrived earlier than expected and we headed back to the cafe to warm up (it's only 3 September!) and buy lots of pin badges (they've got an outstanding selection here these days). The RSPB staff in the reserve centre were really helpful today, I don't really recall that from previous visits. Great job!

While I was looking into previous records in Lancashire (11 to 2008, with all but two of them at Leighton) it was interesting to see that Leighton had a superb run in the 1970s with eight of its nine records between 1970-77. I think this is also the first juvenile for Lancashire as well as the first autumn record. My first visit to Leighton was 3 May 1975 and amazingly I now see that there was one the day after that stayed for 6 days! So here I am catching up with it more than 42 years later!