A MAJOR nature reserve in North Lancashire is lining up a string of events throughout the new year to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

RSPB Leighton Moss at Storrs Lane, Silverdale, hits the half century this year after becoming a nature reserve back in 1964.

Set in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, it is a treasure trove for wildlife due to being the largest reedbed in North West England.

In the intervening years, it has seen visitor numbers rise from 375 people a year to 100,000 annually.

Just recently it was praised by Autumnwatch presenter Kate Humble who along with fellow presenter Chris Packham, presented the series from the reserve.

Among the creatures it is home to include bitterns, marsh harriers, red dear and otters.

Not to mention starlings where at certain times of the season it is not unknown for numbers to swell to 100,000.

During its birthday year, the reserve says it is planning a range of amazing activities and informative talks for visitors of all ages.

Join David Mower, warden at RSPB Leighton Moss, will give an insight into common garden birds  and how you can help them later this month.

The two-course evening meal and talk will be held at the reserve on Tuesday January 14 from 7-9.30pm.

Price is £20 for non-members and £14 for RSPB members. Booking and payment in advance is essential on 01524 701601.

On the weekend of 18-19 January, families and youngsters can drop-in to a free ‘What’s that garden bird?’ event from 1-4 pm to help them identify the birds in their gardens and discover more about how to take part in the upcoming Big Garden Birdwatch o n January 25-26.

They can also become creative in ‘Fat Cake Sculpture’ workshops, turning bird cake into weird and wonderful shapes.

The ‘Fat Cake Sculpture’ workshops is £4 per child, £2 RSPB members and adults free.

Jacqui Fereday, visitor services manager, said: “We are incredibly proud of Leighton Moss and all that it has accomplished over the past 50 years. There is a phenomenal variety of birds, insects, mammals and plants that live here. With something different to see every season, the reserve can be enjoyed by nature lovers of all ages at any time of year. We encourage people to come and visit, as it’s sure to be a wonderful year for Leighton Moss.”

For more details on the events planned for 2014, and more about the reserve, visit rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss