The main reason for our visit was to hopefully see some Bearded Tits that feed on the "grit trays" at this time of the year. The grit trays are provided to help the birds digest the fibrous reed seeds that they eat during the winter months. See details of a color ringing scheme carried out by North Lancashire Ringing Group here. Here's a picture of the grit trays, minus the birds!
After failing to see the Beardies, we walked on down to the Lower Hide, where we had a little more luck, seeing our first ever English Otter (no photos though, as it was too far out), and one of at least 2 Great White Egrets, that were present on the reserve. As you can see from the photo, the bird was also quite a way out, but least it flew up onto a dead tree for us.
Great White Egret
Other birds seen during our visit were: Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard, Grey Heron and Pintail.