Spring is Sprung

And Spring is sprung again this morning, as it was on Monday when I bathed in the joys of watching the comings and goings in my garden and the brookside close to the flash. At just gone eight o'clock, a male Bullfinch offered the same three-noted phrase of its weak "song" from the top of a hawthorn where a pair nested successfully a few years ago and a pair of Long-tailed Tits flitted here, there and everywhere in agitated fashion.

Later in the morning, both birds carried nesting material into the upper reaches of a leylandii - next to the tree where a conspicuous one had been predated in the past. And, as nest-building goes, and hopeful that the Bullfinches would return to the hawthorn, what a world of difference their structures would be - the tits' marvellous oval-shaped masterpiece and the Bullfinches' seemingly precarious twiggy scaffold-like offering. Within minutes of moving away from the brook bank, a fine Grey Wagtail alighted in my corner rowan and began calling, as did a Kingfisher from further down the brook.

Later a Goldfinch twittered away from my roof-top, close to one of its past preferred nest sites, and both Coal and Willow Tits flitted between my neighbours' feeding station and the sanctuary of our hawthorns. And, to crown a wonderful little interlude, a gorgeous sunlit male Sparrowhawk traced an oval-shaped course as it flapped briefly and glided over a traditional territory. What makes this small collection of encouraging events so special is that there have been huge positive changes in recent times in the local status of all eight species, due to both natural and man-made factors.

Milder winters have boosted Kingfisher populations everywhere and Grey Wagtails, once confined to moorland streams for breeding purposes, have extended their range to include lowland sites; Sparrowhawks have recovered well from the agricultural chemical abuses of half-a-century ago; Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Long-Tailed Tit, virtually unknown at the flash in the past, are now fairly common breeders; and Coal and Willow Tit have benefited from the maturing of trees in gardens and at the flash.

If there is a downside to these and other habitat changes at the flash, it is that our wonderful grasslands were sacrificed to the whims of those addicted to an inexplicable tree-planting frenzy, for it is their actions which almost eliminated previous successful tenants - Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Lapwings, Partridges and others. At six o'clock this morning, a back garden Blackbird began the dawn chorus. In the next two or three weeks, first Chiffchaff, then Blackcap and Willow Warbler are sure to enrich nature's sounds, and all will be well with the world as another season blossoms forth.
Dave Wilson

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 3rd March 2017


Tonight we have Stephen Culley presenting 'My Family and Other Animals - Birding in Blighty'

This  presentation talk is about Stephen's bird and wildlife watching around the UK with friends and family in 2015, from Land's End to John o' Groats. 

Stephen has been to the L.O.S. before and his talk went down really well, so why not join us for what should be a wonderful evening's entertainment .

Everybody is welcome, both members and non-members.

L.O.S. Open Day - Saturday 28th January 2017 at Leigh Library

We are pleased to announce that we are having our second Open Day on Saturday 28th January 2017 from 11am until 3pm upstairs in the Derby Room at Leigh Library.

It will be very similar to last year's successful event with displays and stalls by the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Bolton and Bury Swifts, Lowton Hedgehog Rescue as well as local conservation and friends groups such as Low Hall and Amberswood.

There will also be projected displays by several local photographers, as well as a range of second hand birding and other books and some bird food on sale.

The event will be attended by the Mayor of Wigan and local M.P. and prospective Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Refreshments will be available so why not come along and put a few names to the faces that you've read about on Facebook?

Everyone is welcome and admission is free.

The Jack Critchley Book Collection Sale

The remaining books from Jack's collection will be on sale at our Open Day at Leigh Library on Saturday 28th January 2017. Please note that some have already been sold.

Here's the original post:

Members and other readers are informed that Jack Critchley, a Society stalwart for many years, has decided (for personal reasons) to dispose of his collection of bird books. He and Doris have asked me to arrange to sell several books in the collection by means of advertising the sale through the pages of this site, the Society's November newsletter and the Manchester Birding Forum.

Once interested buyers have seen the attached list of about half the collection, I will receive bids by telephone on 01942 605627 between 7.00 and 9.00 p.m. on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th November. To ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity to express an interest in purchasing books, there will be no preferential arrangement for anybody to make bids before those days, but potential buyers may examine the full collection at my house and at my convenience. All the proceeds from the sale will go to the Society.

Individual books will be sold to the highest bidder, but the prize item - all nine volumes of 'Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa : The Birds of the Western Palearctic' in excellent condition - will not be sold piecemeal.

Other selected titles from Jack's collection are:-

Local and Regional:
Dean, T - 'The Natural History of Walney Island' (1990)
Hardy, E - 'Birdwatching in Lancashire' (1979). Loose pages!
Holland, P. et al - 'Breeding Birds in Greater Manchester' (1984)
Mellor, P (LOS member) - 'North West Nature' (1987)
Wilson, J.D. (LOS member) - 'Birds and Birdwatching at Pennington Flash' (1985).

Other British:
C.G.Booth - 'Birds in Islay' (1975)
C.G.Booth - 'Birds in Jura' (1976) Only 7 pages of text!
R.E.Elliott - 'Birds of Islay' (1989)
R.J.Fuller - 'Bird Habitats in Britain' (1982)
J.Gooders - 'Where to Watch Birds' (1974)
C.Hutchinson - 'Watching Birds in Ireland' (1986)
R.Lovegrove - 'RSPB Guide to Birdwatching in Snowdonia' (1987)
A.J.Prater - 'Estuary Birds of Britain and Ireland' (1981)
N.Redman and S.Harrap - 'Birdwatching in Britain - A Site by Site Guide' (1987)
D.Saunders - 'A Guide to the Birds of Wales' (1974)
D.Saunders - 'Where to Watch Birds in Wales' (1987).

T.A.Coward - 'Bird and Other Nature Problems' (1931)
J.H.Elgood - 'Birds of the West African Town and Garden' (1982)
N.Elkins - 'Weather and Bird Behaviour (1983)
R.Engvik - 'The Birds of Runde and Norway's Western Seaboard' (1986)
J.Fisher - 'Bird Recognition' - Vol 1 (1947); Vol 2 (1951); Vol 3 (1955)
P.J.Grant - 'Gulls: A Guide to Identification' (1982)
J.T.R.Sharrock - 'The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland' (1976)

Unsold books, and twenty other unlisted ones, will be available for viewing at the L.O.S. Open Day at Leigh Library on 28th January 2017.

Happy perusing, thinking and spending !!!

L.O.S. Field trip to Marbury Country Park

Today's trip to Marbury Country Park with the (almost!) impeccable navigation of Alan Wilcox took in Budworth Mere, a lot of fine and varied woodland, some meadow and scrubland, Neumann's Flash and Haydn's Pool.

Those of us who hadn't been before were pretty impressed by the variety of habitat, though the murk and mist didn't help the viewing over the various pools. I recorded a total of 39 species (Geoff Hurst might have had more) including impressive numbers of Great Crested Grebe on the Mere, some of which were displaying already, Wigeon, Little Egret and a Common Gull on Neumann's, and woodland species including Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker

A Raven called from somewhere in the canopy, and was glimpsed by some of us. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Bittern did NOT show themselves, but the photo of Budworth Mere will explain the problem of Bittern-spotting today!

A really good trip in great company as ever, and thanks to everybody who came along.