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Jul 2018

RSPB™ Nature Reserve and home to the largest reed bed in North West England, they say.

Lancashire Coat of Arms

He only could have been the Welsh James Bond... 'My name's Moss. Leighton Moss.'[1]

That's if  Ian Fleming had spent more time in Ceredigion and less in the Caribbean but he didn't so settle instead for an RSPB™ Nature Reserve that's home to the largest reed bed in North West England, they say, so nothing to do with Wales, by the way.

Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve

This having just limped into Lancashire from Cumbria to come across the  Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, as should be known by now, they don't hand them awards out willy-nilly.

Most people will give this a miss this on their way down the  M6 but if you do venture in, and you don't really know where you're going, you'll need more than a tatty AA™ road atlas to navigate.

The maze of narrow, twisting roads make for more misdirection than  Derren Brown, say, and all the patience in  The World Is Not Enough to arrive already a little irritated.

[1] Only then all ruined by adding... 'Alrigh' beaut? Want a drink do you? Lager is it?' He'll likely get a polite brush-off with that pitiful patter...  Dai, another day, eh?

 
Silverdale Train Station (Red Bridge Lane)

You could always get the train here and the station for Silverdale is right outside. This passenger service runs to and from Lancaster from and to Barrow-in-Furness, which is, literally and metaphorically, the end of the line.

The railway viaduct at Arnside is a little bit of a disappointment, viaduct-wise, but at least the road bridge here means there's no level crossing to scare  The Living Daylights out of you.

Now, this is a fairly casual commitment to this birding lark so there are no 5 AM alarm calls to see an extremely rare Barrow's  GoldenEye,  for example.

Not that there's one here today, most of the migrants have been missed but the marsh harriers are busy, harrying, over the marsh, they say.

Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve

Not that there's any sign of them, neither, but that's not down to any persecution here. They're known to end up poisoned or shot elsewhere but not from a  Licence to Kill to preserve the stock that people later pay to pepper with pellets in August.

Despite being protected, a policy to let them  Live and Let Die-versity determine what sees a next birthday definitely isn't a decider for some.

It's known that you know that this pair now know this is the wrong time of year to expect an aerial spectacle. Those from Scandinavia have already scarpered back there and it'll be at least a month before they return for, our relatively milder, winter.

Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve

Just a few native young 'uns, fresh out of the nest, and they'll need to take care not to offer themselves up as harrier fuel.

The binocs might well be packed but this is as much a chance for a leg stretch within these 320 acres although a submarine is necessary for most of it.

Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve Leighton Moss - Gallinago gallinago

More so after last night's deluge with  thunder, ball lightning, the lot but at least the soggy ground has brought the snipe out. Some of these come  From Russia with Lovely, striped plumage in spring when they're acting all matey.

RSPB™-ers are an engaging bunch[1] and a few years back, when an interest first took flight, it wasn't exactly a case of being corralled more, erm, actively encouraged to sign up.

That means, wherever in the UK, there's often a chance to get into 'profit', which is an economy that's as false as the claim of the existence of marsh harriers.

It's said they might be seen from the viewing tower, just about borderline for these wobblies and yes, that'll be the old vertigo. It's a strange sensation like the  sky falls in on you and experience is that this kicks in around the mid-20s and by that, it's meant about 25 foot!

Leighton Moss - Skytower

Less than that and vertically fine, up and above it's dizzy time! 'Let's  GoApe™?' Nope, 'Let's go home!' or at least let this Guffer go to the café and wait for you there. You're young and you think you're immortal, there's no need to spoil the whole afternoon.

[1] Special mention here to the friendliest of the lot, a fresh-faced lad whose youthful good looks and ability to still retain facts reminded this one of somebody from 30 years ago.

As this is one of the RSPB™'s larger reserves, there's an entrance fee but if you can prove you came by public transport they'll let you in for free. As they will, anyway, to the shop and café where the bird feeders framed by the arch windows make for a scene from  Bambi, not shown.

Unlike elsewhere where the feathers are fairly scarce and just a few bits of whittling to keep things interesting but don't put those binocs away just yet.

Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve Leighton Moss RSPB™ Nature Reserve

That's because there's even more a mile down the road at their  Eric Morecambe hide, a bit of a twitcher himself and no stranger to the area, naturally, and it looks out onto, well, Morecambe Bay with all of its waders, when in season.

Except you won't be able to find that, ending up lost and then in Carnforth after what seems like an hour of misdirection. Carnforth is the largest conurbation in these parts before you reach Lancaster and is a bit of a player, railway-wise.

As well as providing an interchange, the  station was the location for the film  Brief Encounter and the  Refreshment Room has been restored for that full-on, forties feel.

Carnforth Station Heritage Centre

There's a little bit more to Carnforth but it too was a brief encounter with the station. Running a little late and with no obvious place to pull over and park up, the only available bays outside were reserved for emergency and medical vehicles...

 Doctor - No Parking!