L.O.S. Fieldtrips for 2019-20

The new L.O.S. programme of weekend fieldtrips for 2019-2020 is now available here:

http://www.leighos.org.uk/p/fieldtrips.html

For any further details please contact our Fieldtrips Officer, Paul Pennington, by email on leighos.trips@gmail.com.

Bickershaw Revisited

A third consecutive morning out enjoying our local countryside? Well, it's a quiet week - why not?


A 7.30am start at Bickershaw Country Park was nevessary because of predicted afternoon temps of 32 degrees. We planned a wander from Edna Road car park, past Fir Tree Flash and the grazed fields, crossing the 'Road to Nowhere', round the lovely southern path at Diggle Flash, then down the "Concrete Road" and along the southern leg of the "Northern Footpath" and back to Fir Tree. (If all that's a mystery to you, and you live in the area, it may be time you and Bickershaw CP got acquainted!)

Jean was after Helleborines, and I was anticipating another biodiversity bonanza - we were not disappointed! As to the birds, we started with a flypast by a big charm of Goldfinches, rising from the thistles in the field next to the lake.

Next up were small family parties of Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, hard to see in the scrub. The plaintive piping of Bullfinches betrayed their unseen presence. At the new slow-flow water course, there was another group of juvenile birds, perhaps grouped together for security - or just adolescents hanging out together!

They included, at least Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Blue Tits, and scattered off through the bushes as we watched. Diggle Flash was noisy with Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, and a Common Tern called, but must have been seen off before we got there.

The wild flowers were truly wild - a riot of botanical bliss, inhabited by numerous butterflies, damsels and dragons, and assorted beetle-like beasties. As ever at Bickershaw, some of the "worst" soil areas produce some of the best plant shows.

Centaury is such a subtle little thing normally, but today was the star of the show in many places, understudied by Eyebright and the various mosses that retain moisture on those barren places.


And further on, in the dark wooded recesses, the Broad Leaved Helleborines were there and in flower. Our contortions to try to get pictures were worthy of some other botanical photographers we know, but owing to the Deep Darkness, didn't quite cut the mustard.


I was "made up" on the way round the new footpath, when I caught the reeling of a Grasshopper Warbler - we didn't see him, but you can't take your hearing for granted nowadays! As the day heated up, we made a beeline for Fir Tree and the car, and had a pleasant chat with Hamish before we departed.


Now: was that a Marbled White Butterfly that flew past while we talked? Just a fleeting glimpse, and no photo .... not a certain ID for sure, but I hope so.
Dr. Paul Richardson
L.O.S. Conservation Officer

Lilford Wildflower Meadow

The L.O.S. led by Tony Bishop has been trying to develop a small area of wildflower meadow on the edge of Lilford Woods over the last 2-3 years with the help of the Rotary Club and Wigan Council. While the germination and establishment of the area has not been as much as we hoped, it was hosting plenty of butterflies this morning (23/7/19).
Dr. Paul Richardson
L.O.S. Conservation Officer

Meadow Brown
Gatekeeper 
Small Skipper


Atherton South in July

First July trip to the Atherton South patch early this morning to beat the heat. What a feast it proved to be. Swallows, Swifts and House Martins were making the most of the early insects.

No less than nine Mistle Thrush were feeding on the mown field at Long causewayThe July butterflies were out in force: Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, and Speckled Wood, with a Painted Lady for good measure, and a couple of Shaded Broad Bar moths.

One of the best areas proved to be the meadow next to the Howe Bridge football fields, which also held a family of Common Whitethroat, over 15 Goldfinch, and another family group - Pied Wagtails on the pitch itself. This lovely meadow is threatened with use as an additional pitch, but at present is a riot of wildflowers, thistles and grasses.

Moving on to Bee Fold Lodge, Brown Hawker and Southern Hawker dragonflies were already on the wing, a Kingfisher disappeared with a stripe of brilliant blue into the woodland, two Coot juveniles were piping at their parents, and swallows and martins were stooping to drink on the wing.

The thickets around the pond held Willow Warblers and juvenile Chiffchaffs. Beyond, there is a pylon with an extensive reedbed around its base, and for the first time, I heard Reed Warblers scratching away just beyond the pylon, too far to glimpse, but unmistakeable.

Taking the railway track path to link through to Miller's Lane, I had fleeting views of a kestrel pair using the thermals, when my attention wasn't taken by the flowers in the hedgerow. Yellow Wort and Centaury were in flower - great to see these in the area. This track is yet another hotspot for Gatekeeper butterflies.

By this time, it was getting too warm and the birds were quietening down, but not before I had counted 27 Rooks in a Miller's Lane field.

I headed home for a cool drink, but full of amazement again at the biodiversity on our doorstep. There was nothing rare this morning, just a fabulous feast of bird, insect and plant life to be treasured.

Should this area not be designated as a Site of Biological Importance?

Should EVERY green space between our townships not be guarded and defended?

Dr. Paul Richardson
L.O.S. Conservation Officer

STOP PRESS ...

The new L.O.S. programme of Friday night presentations for 2019-2020 is now available here:

http://www.leighos.org.uk/p/meetings.html

More details will follow when they are available.
Anne Johnson
Programme Secretary