RSPB Leighton Moss visitor numbers soar after Autumnwatch series

Autumnwatch's Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games.
Autumnwatch's Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games.

RSPB Leighton Moss is enjoying a major visitor boom after the BBC’s Autumnwatch came live from the Silverdale nature reserve.

More than twice the expected number of people visited the week the cameras were rolling from October 29 until November 1.

The boost was helped by the four-part BBC Two series coinciding with schools’ half-term break.

Annabel Rushton, RSPB Leighton Moss marketing officer, said: “It’s been massive. The viewing figures were a couple of million people tuning in every night.

“We had more than double the visitors we expected during half-term and visitor numbers have continued to be high.”

Annabel revealed that regular on-air praise for the attraction’s home-made cakes had kept the catering team busy.

They were a hit with presenter Chris Packham, who was joined by Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games for the live, interactive shows.

She said: “It’s had a knock-on effect in the cafe. Our cake lady normally comes in twice a week, but she’s been coming in twice a day!

“Lots of people have been coming in saying they wanted to stay longer and enquiring about places to stay and places to eat locally.

“The programme introduced a lot more people to the Arnside and Silverdale AONB and Morecambe Bay, highlighting what a wonderful place it is to come and watch wildlife.”

RSPB Leighton Moss was chosen by BBC producers as the best wilidlife location in northern England to demonstrate the series’ theme of migration.

Thousands of birds continue to flock to the Lancashire coast from around the world, attracted by the largest reed bed in the North West at Silverdale.

State-of-the-art thermal cameras showed leaf-collecting badgers, red deer locking antlers and play-fighting otters.

Another highlight was thousands of starlings performing a stunning aerial display above the reserve.