Marshside Fieldtrip - 19th January 2014

Please note that this is still being edited

It was a dull start to the day as we set off from Leigh, but as we got nearer to Southport the sun was starting to show through so as we were travelling along the coast road towards Marshside the low sunshine gave a golden glow to the dead stalks of the saltmarsh grasses that it was now lighting up. Even at the car park the sun was showing a group of small birds off well as they perched on the bushes round where the old sand works used to be. I counted more than fifty birds and on a closer check we found they were mostly Goldfinch and Greenfinch with a few Reed Buntings and Linnets mixed in.

Once at the Sandgrounder’s Hide we could see Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler plus Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and a Ross’s Goose that has now been there for the last few weeks. As we came outside a few Pink-footed Geese flew past but our attention was soon drawn across the road to the saltmarsh where someone had seen a male Hen Harrier. We managed to find it but it was a very distant view, whenever it flew up we could see its lighter underside, pale grey back and black wing tips then it was soon down again. On one occasion when it flew up we could see a second Harrier also in the air which was much larger and this turned out to be a female Marsh Harrier. At the same time we could see a Peregrine Falcon perched on an old tree branch and although this was also way out on the saltmarsh it wasn’t quite as far because through the telescopes the markings on its breast were shown up well in the sunshine, and when I had a look I could see it preening its feathers.

While we were on the edge of the saltmarsh we could hear Skylark and Curlew and a Snipe was seen to fly up, the odd Cormorant flew past, Kestrel was seen and way in the distance a cloud like shape we could see was actually a large group of waders that would most likely be Knot or Dunlin. Checking towards the water’s edge we could also see a good number of Shelduck.

It was decided to leave Nel’s Hide until after we had made a visit to Hesketh Out Marsh in the hope that the sun would have moved round a little by then so we could see what was there. On our way to Hesketh Out Marsh we passed a large group of swans in fields not far from the road and these turned out to be both Whooper Swans and Mute Swans. At the viewing area we could see that the Shelduck numbers also continued along to this area plus some Teal, Redshank and Curlew was seen as was a Buzzard, Little Egret, PheasantMeadow Pipit as well as a distant Peregrine Falcon.

On returning to Marshside we walked to Nel’s Hide where we saw good numbers of Pintail, there was a large group of Black-tailed Godwits, a lot of Lapwings and David saw a few Turnstones. There were also a lot of gulls that were mostly Black-headed but a closer look through them gave us Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Earlier in the day the odd Great Black-backed Gull had also been seen. On our way back to the cars we stopped to have a look through the viewing screen on the corner of Marshside Road where very appropriately for us our last new bird of our visit to Marshside was a Long Tailed Duck but you had to be quick to see it as it would soon dive again. In fact I think it was under the water much more that it was on the surface.

Short-eared Owl - (c) Martyn Jones
Our visit to Marshside had come to an end but the day wasn’t quite over, we had seen some good wildfowl and five species of birds of prey so we were well pleased with that but we didn’t know what was waiting for us at another site nearer to Liverpool where Short Eared Owls had been seen, as we were reasonably close to the area we were going to have a look.

Short-eared Owl - (c) Martyn Jones
Not long after we arrived in the late afternoon we saw our first Short Eared Owl, with the setting sun now low in the sky and showing off the birds colours perfectly. As we watched we then saw other owls a little further away and eventually we counted at least four different birds flying in different places.

Barn Owl at Dusk - (c) Martyn Jones
As the light began to fade a Barn Owl was seen in another area but it was thought there were two Barn Owls as another bird was seen way over to one side to where the first bird was seen a few times. A Kestrel was hovering not far from us and at dusk we had one more surprise when a ringtail Harrier was flying in at right angles to us. Eventually the bird saw us and turned again to fly away from us and out of sight but as it banked over on its side as it turned we could see all the marking on its wings in the last remaining bit of light.

Barn Owl at Dusk - (c) Martyn Jones
We had been standing still for some time and we were now feeling the cold so as soon as we had seen the Harrier two of our members made their way back to their car. A little later we all caught up with them when they took great delight in telling us they had just disturbed a Little Owl and watched it fly away and out of sight as they got back to the car. I can’t bring myself to say their names but you know who you were! How could Teresa and Eric enjoy seeing a Little Owl so much when they knew all the other members hadn’t seen it? What a way to finish our day as dusk was closing in and all the good light had now gone.

Thanks to David for leading this trip (keep off your skate board Al) and to Martyn for giving Joan and myself a lift.
Jeff Hurst

Free Wildlife Recording Conference

The Greater Manchester Local Record Centre is holding its first Wildlife Recording Conference on Saturday 29th March at Manchester Museum.  This event is supported by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The day will be a celebration of wildlife recording and a thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who spend time recording and submitting records. The day will be a chance to discover new opportunities for recording, meet like-minded recorders and find out what happens to data once it has been submitted.

If you would like to come along to this free event please fill in the on-line application form by Friday 28th February. Because places are limited we will let you know if your application is successful after this date. Full details of the programme and the booking form can be found here:

It would also be helpful if you could complete the feedback questions with the application form as we will use the information collected to feed into the day’s event and help plan our next year of activities.

We look forward to seeing you on the 29th March.

Suzanne Waymont MCIEEM, Senior Ecologist
Greater Manchester Ecology Unit
Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne
Tameside OL6 6DL

Tel: 0161 342 2771

LOSYBC visits 8th Wigan Boys' Brigade in Hindley

Young Birders in the Making
The LOS Young Birders' Club Team of Tony, George, Brian and Martyn paid a very successful visit to the 8th Wigan Boys Brigade Company at St. Peter's Pavilion in Hindley last week.  It was initially thought that this presentation would be something of challenge due to the large 8 to 16 age range of the boys there, but it went very well.

You can read a full report of the evening's events on our LOS Young Birders' Website here:  LOSYBC visits 8th Wigan Boys' Brigade

Our next presentation is on Monday 24 February at 13th/18th Leigh Beavers who meet at the Scout hut next to St. Thomas' Church in Bedford, Leigh.

Iolo Williams and the 2013 'State of Nature Report'

Have a look at this impassioned speech by Iolo Williams relating to the UK's 2013 State of Nature Report (and don't worry, it's not all in Welsh):

Click the button in the centre of the video to play it
and then double-click on the video to make it go fullscreen.

Read or download the full report here (PDF format): State of Nature Full Report

or a summary of the report here (PDF format): State of Nature Report Summary

New L.O.S. Facebook Group

In an attempt to keep our members better informed as well as to help attract new members, I've setup a new L.O.S. Facebook group:

A permanent link to this address can be found on the right side of this page. You'll need to login to Facebook to see the group - please invite anyone you know who may be interested in birding, wildlife, nature and the environment.

Please feel free to use this group to publish your bird sightings and photos, give details of events relating to our Society and ask questions or provide information that will be of interest to our members. I hope everyone will find it useful.
Martyn Jones