L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Leighton Moss RSPB - Sunday 3rd November 2019


Our third L.O.S. Fieldtrip of the season took us to Leighton Moss RSPB, always a popular destination for the Society and Guests.  With travel arrangements made, the group of 16 gathered as planned just before 9am on the RSPB Leighton Moss car park. Conditions favoured us, in the eye of the storm so to speak. Slightly overcast with intermittent bursts of sunshine, but more importantly deadly still. This would help with the quest ahead.

Rogues' Gallery minus 3 (c) Anne Johnson
We had a strategy, a target bird. One that is popular with visitors to the site at this time of year. The Bearded Reedling (Tit). We headed out on the reserve and out towards the Grisedale Hide area. Firstly we stopped off at the feeding station. Here the usual birds Chaffinch, Blue tit, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, and Greenfinch, all at close quarters flitting between the feeders.

Blue Tit and Chaffinch Face Off (c) John Preston
Working our way slowly towards the afore mentioned hides, stopping occasionally at various points. One such stop, the famed feeding log, Nuthatch, more Blue Tit, Coal tit etc, plus a Marsh Tit, which was a lifer for James, one of our younger birders. Above us high in the Alders, Goldfinch mixed with Siskin. A little further on, a Water Rail darted across the path then back into the scrub and the security of the reedbed.

Marsh Tit (c) Anne Johnson

We worked our way down the well maintained gravel footpath, ( which it was hard to believe a week earlier was under a good foot of water ) through the corridor of head high Phragmites reedbed, eventually arriving at our destination, with the hope of seeing our target birds, the Bearded Reedlings.

Keith Williams feeding a Robin (c) Mandy Robertson
Here the manicured opening of the reedbed, cut back to make an open space, some ten by ten square meters, with two small grit trays posted in the left and righthand corners. Now for the waiting game.
Sixteen of us stood by the reedbed opening and waited. Some fifteen minutes passed and nothing, and as one of our members would describe, remarkably birdless.

Teal (c) Martyn Jones
As the Grisedale Hide was only a very short distance along the pathway, the majority of headed off there, and left three of us on watch, in case the Bearded Reedlings turned up. At the hide, Marsh Harrier, Teal, Snipe and Pintail were the main attractions for the majority of the group

Drake Pintail (c) Graeme Robertson
Three of us still waiting for the Bearded Reedlings to show, Water Rail squealed around us in the reedbeds, Long Tailed Tits manouvered through the scrub Willow. Then there was movement, something caught our eye through the reedbed, was this the Bearded Reedlings? A message was sent to the rest of the Group in the Grisedale hide, but as the group regathered by the grit trays, a false alarm! A solitary Male Reed Bunting came and went.

Mute Swan in Flight (c) John Preston
This time the party decided to visit the close by Jackson hide, again leaving three of us on watch. We entertained ourselves by hand feeding a very tame Coal tit and Robin as we waited.

Cheeky Robin (c) Mandy Robertson
The three of us had now been waiting near on two hours holding the fort for the others. Then!! through the tranquillity, was that the faint ' ping ping' we could hear, the unmistakable call of the Bearded Reedling? Was this the moment? Then like some magical illusion, two males, three females, closely followed by two further females, appeared from within the Reedbed. The Bearded Reedlings were here, and in force.

Female Bearded Reedling (c) Paul Pennington
A quick call to the Jackson Hide, the rest of the group gathered to witness these wonderful, dainty little birds at close quarters, with their distinctive plumage. Then some 15 minutes later, as quickly as they came, vanished back into the vast reedbed. Certainly the highlight of the day.

Male Bearded Reedling (c) Anne Johnson
After the excitement of the morning, goal achieved, we returned to the car park for a spot of lunch, a group photo, and as we planned out next move, a fly over of Whooper Swans.

Marsh Harrier (c) Paul Morgan
Three would head off towards the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, the rest would eventually meet up with them later. The main body of the group would head out via the Causeway. Along the way we would see a female Kestrel, Pochard, Shoveler, Mute Swan, and the usual Cormorant.

Lapwing (c) Martyn Jones
Eventually we met up with the rest at the Allen and Eric Morecambe Hides. Here there were a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit accompanied by the odd Dunlin, Wigeon, numerous Lapwing and Redshank. a handful of Little Egret as well as a single Common Sandpiper. A distant Peregrine Falcon sat on the fence posts and a scattering of Shelduck swam in the pools.

Did you spot the Dunlin in there? (c) Graeme Robertson
Other birds of interest on the day included Lesser Redpoll, Cetti's Warbler. Treecreeper, Bullfinch, a skein of Pink-footed Geese and a single Goldcrest.

Goldcrest (c) Keith Williams

All in all a fabulous day out. Target achieved, along with some 66 species. Leighton Moss is always worth the effort. So on that note, we mustn't forget the social aspect of these trips which are aimed at various levels of birding knowledge and which are filled with the usual great humour. Everyone is welcome.

View from Allen Hide (c) Anne Johnson
Thank you all for your company and support.
Paul Pennington 
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 1st November 2019

Wildlife Wonders of Scotland

A presentation by our Chairman, David Shallcross

David tells us "this is a story of the species I have encountered summer and winter in or around the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland".

We meet in the Derby Room upstairs at Leigh Library at around 7:15pm for a 7:30 start. Car parking is free. Everyone is welcome and entry is free, although we would appreciate it if you'd buy a raffle ticket or two.

So do come and join us, bring a friend, become a member. Just ask one of us on the door for information on how to join our friendly society.

L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Starts A New Season

The L.O.S. Young Birders' team got the new academic year (2019/2020) off to a flying start yesterday afternoon with yet another visit to Gilded Hollins Primary School in Lowton, Leigh.

This is our eighth time at Gilded Hollins – we first went there in 2012 and, in fact, it was the very first school the team ever visited. Since then the Young Birders' Club team of Martyn Jones, Brian Fawcett, Teresa Fayle, Tony Bishop and I have worked with almost 2,000 children in twelve different schools as well as nine other groups including Brownies, Cubs and Leigh Rotary Club.

Yesterday’s presentation involved three of the team, Tony, Martyn and myself, and the two hour interactive session with 30 Year 4 pupils in Mr. Taylor’s class concentrated very much on bird identification. We started by looking at some key points in bird ID involving 12 common birds from Wren to Mute Swan. The children then spent a few minutes working in pairs to construct a Bird ID Dial. This was followed by two quizzes and then the finale was a rather noisy ‘Birdy Bingo’ game which the children thoroughly enjoyed.

It was great fun; the children were marvellous – enthusiastic and attentive. We can now look forward to more school visits with the added bonus of extra reinforcements as Brian is just back from his long 'reverse migration' trip to France.
George Pike

More awards for work done by the L.O.S. in our local Community

L.O.S.  Committee members Eddie King and Tony Bishop were invited to the 'Wigan in Bloom' presentation night at The DW Stadium in Wigan.

They were presented with a signed certificate and small trophy to commemorate their efforts.

Over the last couple of years they have erected about 100 bird boxes, mostly for Tits but also some for Robins.

The following organisations have benefited :

Wigan and Leigh Hospice, Leigh Neighbours' Project, Leigh St. Mary's Primary School, Victoria Park in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Appley Bridge Floral Society and a national lottery funded group who work in the deprived areas of Leigh.

Most of the boxes were made by 'Men in Sheds', a local organisation made up mostly of retired men, and modified by Eddie with others made by Eddie himself.

Tony Bishop
Deputy Chairman

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to North Wales - Sunday 13th October 2019

DYDDIAU GLAWOG A DYDD SUL (Rainy Days and Sundays in Welsh)

Our second excursion of the season, took us to RSPB Conwy and an 'off the cuff' visit to Llandudno, and the Great Orme. On arrival at RSPB Conwy, the skies were dark with the threat of impending rain and the surrounding foothills cloaked in sporadic low cloud. The air was still and surprisingly warm considering. After a quick drink we headed out onto the reserve

Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshanks and Black-headed Gulls (c) Mandy Robertson.
The first couple of hides we found some of our more common birds: Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall and Mallard. The next hide we came across the reported Spotted Redshank, amongst a flock of some 200 Redshank which unfortunately moved towards the rear of one of the islands and out of sight. There was also an Oystercatcher, plus a herd of Curlew calling in the breathless air.

Spotted Redshank in winter plumage (c) Keith Williams
Moving on to next hide we came across two Red-breasted Mergansers, males in eclipse plumage, bearing the unmistakable white streak along their flanks. We headed further round the large pool to the various screens hoping for closer views. Along the way flocks of Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Greenfinch with numerous Blackbirds feeding on the heavily-laden berry trees.

Little Grebe (c) Mandy Robertson
On reaching the screens at the top end of the pool, the Mergansers had seemed to moved on. We were left with a Little Grebe and a handful of Teal. Reaching the estuary we spotted one of the Red-breasted Mergansers returning to feed, so eventually we had closer views.

Red-breasted Merganser (c) Paul Pennington
Working our way down the bank of the estuary, good numbers of Meadow Pipit, the odd Reed Bunting, 100 plus Teal mixed with Gadwall and Mallard. Three very late Swallows took advantage of the fly-rich air. Then the rain came. We took shelter in one of the hides looking back inland and over the large pool. Here the Redshank and the Spotted Redshank gave great views. A dozen Snipe hugged the banks of the islands, a Little Egret stood looking miserable, as the rain became heavier. The rain eased somewhat and we completed the circuit. We decided to indulge in a well-earned coffee in the café, time to deliberate our next move.

Little Egret (c) Graeme Robertson
Over coffee the consensus was to head over to the Great Orme. There had been reports of a Yellow Browed Warbler and four Ring Ouzel by the old Copper Mines. On reaching the top tram stop car park of the Great Orme, we were shrouded in cloud and heavy rain and visibility was very poor. Could this be a mistake!?! Fortunately the after some 15 minutes, the sun broke through and with it wonderful views down the Orme and a chance we could find the Ouzels and the Warbler.

Chough (c) Keith Williams
Working our way down towards the Copper Mine we were on the alert. A female Kestrel gave good views perched on a dead tree, no doubt drying out from the afore mentioned deluge. In vain we searched high and low in the reported area, but to no avail. So we returned to the cars.

Kestrel (c) Keith Williams
It was decided as we made our way back that we would visit the limestone pavement. On route a magnificent Kashmir Goat (Tup), one worthy of the Welsh Guards, wandered along the roadside, stopping to watch our cars as we passed slowly.

Male Stonechat (c) Paul Pennington
On reaching the limestone pavement, we decided to do a small circuit of the area. A good decision. Two pairs of Chough, a pair of Raven, a solitary Buzzard and numerous Stonechat, which ended a fruitful day. In all 52 species recorded by the seven intrepid souls who attended.
Thanks for company and hope to see you all on the next trip.
Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer