Whipping the Flash into Shape

A group of fourteen volunteers from the Pennington Flash Volunteer Group planted over 100 assorted berry tree whips on the edge of the kidney pond at Pennington Flash this week.

Led by L.O.S. Chairman David Shallcross and Wigan Biodiversity Officer Kieran Sayer, the whips were soon dug in to fill in the gap left where the previous trees had been felled to give access for the heavy machinery to enter the area for groundworks.

The group also did some litter picking and work on installing a new wooden floor in the storage container we have recently acquired.

All photos courtesy of PFVG member Chris Saunders.

Starling Murmurations

The Open University are asking for any photos or reports of starling murmurations between 1st November 2019 and 1st March 2020 to be submitted to their nQuire website:


'Please share your photos of starling murmurations and your experiences of observing them so that we can explore this great winter spectacle together.'

You could also record them in the comments underneath this post to inform L.O.S. members where to see them locally.

Here's a thing!

The area that has been known as "Bickershaw Rucks" or just "Bickershaw" now has its official signboard at the Smith's Lane entrance: Bickershaw Country Park! The board shows the northern circuit footpath very clearly, and on a walk round it today (admittedly with a lot of detours to snoop around copses and ponds!) I counted 234 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare (I'm sure there were more!) 64 Goldfinch, 2 Kestrels and 2 Buzzard, as well as hearing a Cetti's Warbler and a variety of our common species - 26 in 2 hours.

There are even some new benches around the site, once the concrete sets, though you may want to take along a bum-warmer as they are metal!! We need more observers there - it's an area where you work for your sightings, but let's use it so we don't lose it.

A Letter From Our Conservation Officer

Dear LOS Member 

You will probably already know that Wigan Council is consulting with various stakeholders about future plans for Pennington Flash. The aim is to put together a "Masterplan" and there have been some quite radical ideas going about. We know people are worried about the introduction of new "leisure pursuits" which could potentially be damaging to the habitat and disturbing to the wildlife. 

The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, working with an Ecology Consulting firm called "Footprint Ecology", has put together a dedicated reporting page for Pennington Flash, and we would like to encourage all birders who visit Pennington to report their sightings via this web page. This is a particular push for 2020, and part of the focus is to get more data about what happens to birds when there is disturbance in any part of the Country Park. So please report ANY species of bird, mammal or insect, but of particular interest are any unusual sightings or unusual concentrations of birds in a particular location. For example, if there's a sailing race happening, you may see 32 Great Crested Grebe on the water in front of Ramsdale's reedbed. The web page allows you to report this down to that amount of detail, by means of a clickable map. 

This is the special feature of this data gathering - it needs to be very detailed as to where things are seen. Much of what is on record at GMEU, for example, is just down as "Pennington Flash" and does not indicate where in the Country Park something has been seen. 

The web page is really easy to use, although the map does take a little while to load. You don't even have to register - just insert your name and email address - but if you do register and login, you won't have to enter those details every time. Everything else is pretty much self explanatory. 

Members have expressed a little suspicion about bringing in outside ecologists. Please be reassured that this is not a big firm which works for big developers - the two consultants involved have both been keen birders from a young age, and their work is almost exclusively for local councils and nature conservation groups such as the Wildlife Trust. I have spoken at some length to Durwyn Liley of Footprint, and will be meeting him in early December. He is more than ready to listen to LOS and others from the local area, and to use our records as well as those generated during the survey year. I think it is a positive sign that the Council have commissioned this survey before rushing into development of the Country Park or additional leisure projects. 

I hope you will consider contributing to the survey whenever you visit the Flash from now and through 2020. 


Paul Richardson 
Conservation Officer


A comment on my recent post.
ThomasMike Norris David, The Flash is multi-user facility. Your comment about Water-based activities just assumes that it should only be for wildlife. The survey itself takes no account of any use other than bird watching
  • David Shallcross Mike, it's not about birdwatching, that term assumes an inclusive and selfish pursuit. The Society (LOS) has worked long and hard to secure this place for nature from the early seventies to the present day, whilst I don't want to stop people enjoying what is now a major attraction in the NW I'm still firmly protective of nature, that's what the founders of LOS set out to do all those years ago and but for them the Flash would have continued to be filled in and who knows what it would have become, certainly not as you say "a multi-user facility" the survey is to determine the disturbance to wildlife in certain areas and to tailor the envisaged future of the country park. The size of the nature reserve has greatly diminished over the years with humans pushing out wildlife, with their own agendas and no thought about anything but themselves certainly not wild creatures, so please please please don't let's have any more. Don't slag me off for being a concerned and passionate wildlife do-gooder, do some research or better still have input into the survey I have spent the last 48 years as an ambassador for nature conservation throughout the North West region, so when I say something it's not without thought and research it's for the love of wildlife and nature, animals, insects, plant life the whole biodiversity of our world. Love and peace to all. regards Shallcross