Rare visitor in town

For the last few days we have been very privileged to have had a special guest in our recording area - a Slavonian Grebe.  According to long-time L.O.S. member John Tymon, it's given the best views of this bird in his 37 years of birding at Pennington Flash.

Slavonian Grebe on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Pennington - (c) Martyn Jones
The bird was first seen in Ramsdale's at Pennington Flash where views were quite distant and it was not easy to photograph.  Then on Monday 30 December it was seen catching small fish on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal just above the Flash, and this is where the best views were had.  The Grebe didn't seem unduly bothered by people in fairly close proximity and was more concerned with the attention of a juvenile Mute Swan which frequently harassed it.

Hopefully, with a decent supply of food available, it will stick around long enough for more people to see and enjoy it. Thanks must go to Jon Taverner for following a lead from some local walkers and tracking the bird down to its new location (and thanks for the 'phone call Jon). A cracking little bird and a very nice way to end the year.

Photo of the Year - Barn Owl

David Shallcross was the worthy winner of Wigan's Council's 'Believe' photography competition with this fantastic photo of a Barn Owl.

There were four categories in the competition: Community Life, Flowers and Plants, Wildlife and Landscape. A judging panel picked a winner from each category and a public poll was held to find an overall winner. The photo first won its category in the Wildlife section and went on to be voted as the overall winner.

David said, "I've been taking photos as a hobby for over 30 years, but it's only recently since I retired that I've been able to do it more frequently. I feel over the moon to have won the competition as I've had lots of positive comments about my photographs, but I've never won anything before.  I'll definitely be entering more competitions in the future!"

As the competition winner, David received £500 which he intends to donate to the following charities:
  • Chowbent Chapel Restoration Fund
  • Leigh Ornithological Society Conservation Fund
  • BBC Children In Need
So, well done to David, I'm sure you'll all agree it's a superb photograph and a deserving winner.

Leighton Moss RSPB Fieldtrip – 17th November 2013

Although we sometimes combine this trip with a visit to Sizergh Castle in search of Hawfinches, today tt was decided to go straight to Leighton Moss RSPB and make for the public causeway in the hope of seeing Bearded Tits that had been coming to the grit trays that have been provided for them. At first there was nothing there so we made a quick visit to the public hide, but all we could see were the odd Gadwall and Shoveler plus a few Mallard and Black-headed Gulls.

Male and Female Bearded Tits on the grit trays
So we returned to the grit trays and met up with the others in our group who were just arriving. We stood around for a while and were eventually rewarded with a male and female Bearded Tit on the trays for a few minutes. They soon moved back into the reeds and out of sight but not before a Wren had got in on the act and joined them on the trays.

While we were waiting to see Bearded Tits we heard a Water Rail squealing from somewhere in the reed bed and on a few occasion, I also heard a Song Thrush from some nearby bushes, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across to one of the trees, a Cormorant flew over and a Marsh Harrier flew low over the reed bed. Two of our members had arrived a lot earlier than most of us and so had walked to the “lower hide” where they had also seen Pintail, Kingfisher and Bullfinch.

Back to the main reserve where Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Mistle Thrush and House Sparrow were seen. A short walk to “Lillian’s Hide” gave us Tufted Duck, Teal and a distant view of a few Goldeneye making frequent dives but one of these was looking a little different from the others and some careful checking through the scope showed it was a female Long-tailed Duck. Also from here we could see a Common Gull perched on a stump in the water and a Grey Heron flew in and landed nearby.

From the “Tim Jackson Hide” we had some good views of a Marsh Harrier flying round and eventually perching on an old tree stump and there was a small group of Wigeon not far from the hide.

Our last stop was at the hides near the coast where we saw a number of different waders such as Snipe, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Lapwing; Knot and Curlew were heard. A Kingfisher flew past the hide and we also saw Shelduck, Pintail again, a small flock of Starlings, Little Egret, Kestrel and a distant Peregrine perched on a stump out on the saltmarsh. With the help of a telescope, on another patch of water in the distance we could see two Whooper Swans, Great Black-backed Gulls and some Black-tailed Godwits.

In all we had 55 different species of birds, some common, some we were hoping to see and some we didn’t expect to see. Thanks to Al once again for the trip and to Martyn for my lift.
Jeff Hurst 

LOS Annual Reports

As a lot of members have their annual report sent via email, would any member who wishes to have a printed copy please let me know as soon as possible. An email to me at jdisley@talktalk.net or a telephone call to 01942 672264 will be most helpful.

Previous editions of all our annual reports since 2000 and newsletters since May 2011 are available on the Reports Page on this website.  From this page they can be downloaded to your computer and printed if desired.

Thank you 
Joan Disley – Editor

Christmas Special Fieldtrip to Rostherne Mere

We are having an extra fieldtrip on Sunday 15 December to Rostherne Mere in Cheshire.  Please note that we are meeting at the usual place (Doctors Nook car park facing the Library in Leigh) at 9:00am which is a little later than usual.  Car sharing will organised on the day and you can click here for a map and more details.

Rostherne is the largest of the Cheshire meres and also the deepest, with the original basin having been deepened by salt subsidence. Being exceptionally deep for a natural lowland lake, the Mere's water rarely freezes over and in hard winters can support large numbers of wintering wildfowl. The main habitats are open water and woodland.

Rostherne Mere is primarily of importance for its wintering wildfowl populations, particularly pochard. Mallard, teal, pintail and shoveler are also regular visitors and in cold weather ruddy duck, gadwall and goosander often visit the site. The surrounding reed beds support a large breeding population of reed warblers and bittern is a regular visitor during the winter months. Birds of the surrounding woods include all three native woodpecker species together with tawny owl, sparrowhawk and kestrel. Scrub areas are home to reed bunting, willow warblers and whitethroat.

Everyone is welcome, both existing members and prospective new members, for what should be a very interesting trip with the possibility of seeing a Bittern which has recently been seen here.

Al Foy

Annual Subscriptions Are Now Due

Our very reasonable annual subscriptions are now due and so a prompt payment would be appreciated. Full details of this year's fees and the benefits of being a member are are on the membership page.

Please note that you can pay your subscription at any Friday night meeting or fieldtrip.  If you rather send a cheque in the post, please e-mail our treasurer Raymond Meredith at this address:  


Raymond will then email you back with his postal address.

Great Grey Shrike on Astley Moss

Great Grey Shrike on Astley Moss -  (c) Jon Taverner
Following on from the last two issues of the Leigh Journal which featured rare birds in the Leigh area, I sent them a photograph and some text about another very rare bird which was seen for just a few hours on Astley Moss on Sunday 20 October. The bird, which is a Great Grey Shrike, was found by Dave Thacker who spends much of his spare time on the Moss looking at wildlife and the photo was taken by Jon Taverner, a local bird photographer who can be seen most days at Pennington Flash.

When Dave found the bird he sent a text to the County Bird Recorder who then alerted many of the local birders. I was there within 15 minutes as I live in Tyldesley, and fairly quickly many of the birders already at Pennington Flash left for a quick dash down the East Lancs Road to Astley Moss. Soon there were at least 25 people looking for the Great Grey Shrike, which didn't disappoint those who turned up early. Unfortunately, it only hung around for a couple of hours and those who came later missed it.

I suppose you could call it a 'Twitch' - (c) David Shallcross
All Shrikes are migrants, within Europe or to Africa in winter. Great Grey Shrikes are regular but scarce visitors to the UK. They arrive on the east coast in autumn and many stay throughout winter and into spring (sometimes as late as April or May), when they migrate back to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.

The Great Grey Shrike eats small mammals, rodents, reptiles and birds as well as beetles and other insects. It often stores it food in a 'larder' for eating later by impaling it on a thorn. You can see from the photo that it has a hooked bill which, along with its long, sharp claws, is well-adapted to tearing apart the flesh of its victims. The black mask and grey plumage are distinctive features of the bird.

The Great Grey Shrike was a 'lifer' for me as I've never seen one before and we've had a good year for rarities in our recording area, including the Glossy Ibis at Horwich, the Lesser Scaup at Pennington Flash and the Pectoral Sandpiper at Rumwoth Lodge. Let's hope there's more to come!

Martyn Jones

Free Guided Bird Walks at Pennington Flash on Saturday 26 October

We're very pleased to announce that the L.O.S. will be taking some more free guided bird walks around the hides at Pennington Flash this coming Saturday, 26th October.  Please meet at the Visitor's Centre at 10am where we will have spotting scopes, binoculars and bird identification sheets for you to borrow.  The walks will finish around midday.

Although primarily aimed at our Young Birders' Club members, everyone is welcome to attend, but all youngsters must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

We look forward to seeing you there!

L.O.S. Video Archive - Black-faced Bunting

Ah, remember the 90's GMTV when Eamon Holmes was thin(ner), when Mr. Motivator was keeping us fit and 'Watching' was on TV. Well here's some archive video footage about a rather special little bird that popped into Pennington Flash for a few weeks back in 1994.

Thanks to our own Teresa Fayle for supplying the video and starring in it with her husband Alan, along with Peter Alker former ranger and now with the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and the sadly missed Roger Wood who took the photograph.

Enjoy, I look forward to reading your comments below.

Photo of the Week - Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis, Horwich Moors (c) David Shallcross
There were four of these rarely seen birds giving superb views in and around the fields next to the Bob's Smithy Pub on Chorley Old Road, Horwich, Bolton.  What a cracking photo by David Shallcross.

Here's some more Glossy Ibis photos with video footage taken at the same location by Martyn Jones on 1st October:

Glossy Ibis in Horwich (c) Martyn Jones

L.O.S. Sponsored Birdwatch - 21 September 2013

The day dawned pleasantly weather-wise, and the teams set off with enthusiasm and verve! As they always do, some to keep going to the very end, some to struggle to keep going to nearly the end and others to enjoy what they could and go home for a cup of tea!

The winning team King and Don’t tell him Pike got off to a roaring start, said by some with unfair advantage because of knowing where the birds were but they weren’t shy of sharing so it doesn’t matter. They clocked up their winning total of 57 species including Grey Partridge, Wheatear and Black Redstart - incidenatlly Eddie now informs me he missed a White Wagtail off his list and it should read 58!

The Indian Runners had a good day too but were seen to shoo the birds away when another team arrived in that hide - but this was countered by that team telling them there wasn’t a bird to be seen in any of the other hides, measure for measure.

The third team was the Feather Brains who did sterling work on getting their 55 species and if the Bullfinches and a Thrush had shown up as expected would have given the other two a better run for their money – biased about this team, well yes, because I was in it!  Joe and Phil had a good day and got 49 species a bit low for Joe but I suspect he kept stopping for coffee.

The Bald Eagles came next with 42 species an unusually low count for this trio of birders they must have been having a bad hair day! Last but certainly not least came the Jackdaws and Teals with 37 species they scoured Pennington Country Park to the nth degree and didn’t leave a blade of grass unturned, nor any seat not sat on!

Well done to all who took part  - if you think you can do better then get yourself into a team in time for next year; thank you to all who sponsored any of the teams, there is still time to sponsor should you wish to. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with friendly banter and some very good companions followed by an evening meal which was enjoyed by all.
Joan Disley

The results of the sponsored birdwatch held on the 21st September 2013 were as follows:

Position Team Name Species
1st Don't tell 'em Pike 57
2nd The Indian Runners 57
3rd The Feather Brains 55
4th Joe and Phil 49
5th The Bald Eagles 42
6th The Jackdaws and Teals 37

After the day's birding exploits many of the members went for a nice meal organised by Al Foy at the Whistling Wren in Leigh where a good night was had by all - thanks Al.

The amount of sponsorship money raised will be announced here shortly.

Brockholes Nature Reserve – 8th September 2013

For our first outing of the new session we were going to Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston, which was somewhere different we hadn’t been before which is always interesting. It was also nice to have two new members in Keith and Tony who joined us for the first time. This is a new reserve that was only opened to the public at Easter 2011 by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. It is free to walk round the reserve but there is a charge for parking your car with an increasing amount the longer you are there.  Here's a link to the types of habitat that can be found there: Brockholes Habitats

One part of the reserve edges on to the River Ribble where we were heading first but as we stopped part way to look at a Reed Bunting perched on a small bush Joan spotted a beautiful female Roe Deer just quietly walking into the reeds and long grasses growing all round the bush. There wasn’t much on the river but while we were in this area we saw a Buzzard in the distance being mobbed by six Crows, a Sparrowhawk flew past us and a little later we saw a Kestrel. Later we saw two Buzzards soaring round together over the trees and just after this we once again saw a single bird being mobbed but this time by a Sparrowhawk which would not give up as it went on for some time. On a few occasions we saw the Buzzard flip over onto its back so its talons were now pointing upwards to defend itself against the Sparrowhawk diving at it from above.

From here we made our way to a wooded area but just before we reached this we came across a sheltered corner in the sunshine where there was a Blackberry patch with a lot of Himalayan Balsam growing through it but it was attracting a number of dragonflies that settled on the leaves to enjoy the warm sunshine. There was Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker and both male and female Common Darter. These were also joined by the odd Speckled Wood Butterfly at times and a Blackbird, which was attracted by the ripening fruit. Once in the wood we had birds such as Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Wren.

In other parts of the reserve are two large areas of water with a few bird hides around the edges but there was nothing too unusual on these waters. We saw the usual Canada Geese, Mute Swan and Mallard plus a few Tufted Duck and Teal. There was also a Little Grebe, some Cormorants and Grey Heron but the only waders we saw were a few Lapwing. On one occasion a small group of these birds took to the air and we noticed they had an unusual companion flying with them which was a single Starling. The ducks on one of these waters had also been joined by a Black Swan that must have escaped from somewhere. As we walked round House Martins had been seen and as we arrived back at the cars a Swallow flew over our heads.

The only other butterfly we saw was Large White but we did get a good look at a caterpillar of the Buff Tip Moth. Most of the flowers were now gone but there were still patches of Bird’s Foot Trefoil in flower Marsh Woundwort and the last remaining flowers on the Purple Loosestrife could be seen. Another bush that was looking good was the Guelder Rose that had clusters of its shiny berries starting to turn red which eventually will provide food for the birds.

This is still a young reserve so hopefully in time it will improve and maybe a visit at a different time in the year might give us more birds to look at, nevertheless I hope everyone enjoyed it, in particular Keith and Tony and we look forward to them joining us again for our trips out etc.

As always thanks to Al for organising the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.

Jeff Hurst 

The 2013-2014 Season Kicks Off

Spotted Flycatcher - (c) Martyn Jones
Autumn is with us once again and this always heralds our first indoor meeting of the new season, which this year is on Friday 6th September at 7:15pm in the Derby Room at Leigh Library.

Our first presentation is called 'Birds of the Fylde Coast' (ie, the Lytham, Blackpool, Fleetwood areas etc) and is given by Stuart Meredith. Everyone is welcome to come along and meet the members of our friendly society, and hopefully join the L.O.S. by becoming a member. There's no charge for the meeting and details of our full programme this year and our very low membership fees are on the L.O.S. website here:
Then Sunday 8th September sees the start of our fieldtrip programme and on that day we will be going to Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston.  We meet on Doctor's Nook car park facing Leigh Library at 8am and share cars and petrol costs. There maybe a small entrance charge to some reserves, ie. Brockholes is £7 per car, so with 4 people it would be just £1.75 each.  Most places to which we go are free however.

We do hope to see some new (and old) faces at either our indoor presentations or on our fieldtrips - it doesn't matter what your level of bird knowledge is, everyone is welcome from beginner to experienced birders - just come along and enjoy yourself with our friendly and helpful members.

Wildlife and Heritage Fair at Pennington Flash on Sunday 18 August

Click to enlarge
Red Rose Forest have teamed up with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to host a Wildlife and Heritage Fair at Pennington Flash on Sunday, August 18 from 11.30am to 4pm. We do hope you can join us to celebrate three years of the Lightshaw Meadows project.

Leigh Ornithological Society will have a stall in the marquee and will be taking guided walks to some of the hides as part of our Young Birders' Club initiative.  There will also be live music, a birds of prey display, woodland crafts, traditional games and storytelling as part of the day's activities and everything is free!

A guided wildlife walk will also take place before the event led by Mark Champion of Lancashire Wildlife Trust. This will start at Pennington Flash and head to Lightshaw before returning to Pennington Flash to enjoy the wildlife and heritage fair.

Please note that places are limited for the walk which starts at 9.30am. Call Jess Thompson on (0161) 872 1660 to book or email jessicat@redroseforest.co.uk 

You can also visit the Red Rose Forest website for more information.

LOSYBC BioBlitz at St. Catherine's

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Team spent two fantastic mornings at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School in Lowton this week.  The volunteer L.O.S. members included Roy and Dave to look at moths, Joan and Jeff to do the plants and insects, George and Martyn to look at bird identification and Tony to handle the logistics and time-keeping. The weather was 'scorchio' and this proved to be ideal for our star attraction of the 'Moth Mobile' - I do hope Roy doesn't mind me calling his excellent motor home by that name!

Roy Rhodes' 'Moth Mobile'
After a week of talking to teacher John Clegg (a lapsed L.O.S. member) and planning activities, the LOSYBC Team arrived on Monday morning to the amazing sight of Roy's mobile home parked in the school's wildlife garden.  

Roy had been here overnight and, ably helped by Dave Wilson, had set up a number moth traps around the garden to do a species count.  This had required a risk assessment form to be completed, permission from the school, the local police and neighbours to be informed and lots of emails  - no mean logistical feat I can tell you!

Anyway, as we arrived Roy and Dave were just putting the last few moths in bottles for showing to the children later.  With over 100 species found in a total of nearly 700 moths, they both seemed very pleased with their night's work, even though Roy had only had a hour's sleep.  I don't think he appreciated my joke when I asked him for a bag of chips and an ice cream!

Doing the BioBlitz Survey
After a short meeting, we all went into the Year 3 classroom and introduced ourselves. The class was split into three groups with one staying in the classroom to look at bird identification and the other two going outside into the garden to look at plants, insects and moths.

The initial idea was do a BioBlitz in the garden, where each species of plant, animal, bird and insect found is recorded.  The children were all given clipboards with a recording sheets and there were plenty of identification sheets and books available as well as the experts from the L.O.S.  

Although this went quite well, the weather was very hot and there was so much to see and do, that on the second day we decided to abandon the recording aspect which was very time-consuming for the children. Instead they just enjoyed being out in the fresh air and sunshine and seeing all the different forms of wildlife quite literally on their doorstep.

An Elephant Hawk Moth being released
But it has to be said that the moths stole the show. Their sizes, colours and diversity was simply spectacular and many of the children and teaching staff were really amazed at how beautiful and interesting they were.  

Many of the children wanted (and were brave enough) to hold the moths in their hands. But even those who thought they didn't like moths that much couldn't resist having a closer look, especially at the ones in closed bottles!  

All the moths were released back into the garden at the end of the second session.

At the end of the second day we were all exhausted but very pleased with the outcome.  Later I was told by John Clegg that it had gone down very well with the children and that he had heard many of them talking to each other about what they had been doing as he walked around the school.  And that's exactly what we were hoping for.
Young Birders and Naturalists of the Future ?

For a lot more photos and details of the activities have a look at the report on the Young Birders' Club (LOSYBC) website here:

(Not quite ready yet - will be available soon)

Photo of the Week

Swallow - (C) Joan Disley
Here's a great photo of a Swallow that Joan took recently.

Vote for Lightshaw Meadows in the 2013 National Lottery Awards

Lightshaw Meadows is an area of open countryside and a beautiful mosaic of wetlands located in the heart of the Abram Flashes in Wigan. The landscape has been created over many years from mining subsidence and is a stunning example of how Wigan’s industrial heritage has shaped the local landscape. On a wider scale, Lightshaw Meadows forms part of Wigan’s Greenheart Regional Park, which lies between Wigan and Leigh.

Lightshaw Meadows covers some 18 hectares of land, 13 hectares of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, over the last few decades, the SSSI gradually deteriorated into an ‘unfavourable’ condition as categorised by Natural England. Therefore, for the last three years Red Rose Forest and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Wigan Greenheart have been working to improve the area and its status has now been upgraded back to a ‘favourable’ condition.

The latest news is that Lightshaw Meadows has now made it through to the prestigious National Lottery Awards final seven in the Best Environment Project category, with a coveted trophy and a £2,000 cash prize up for grabs if the project gets the highest number of public votes in the category.

How to Vote:

You can vote by telephone on 0844 836 9686
or by clicking here: Vote for Lightshaw Meadows and entering your email address

Please Note: Voting ends at midnight on 24 July 2013

For more details on the work being carried out here you can read about this exciting and worthwhile project by clicking on the LWT links below:

Open Day at Woolston Eyes - Sunday 30 June

Click to enlarge
Woolston Eyes Conservation Group are having their Annual Open Day on Sunday 30th June from 10am to 4pm.

As always this event will be free of charge. Earlier in the year major work was carried out at Woolston Eyes in conjunction with R.S.P.B. as a result of funding from Higher Level Stewardship with the aim of improving the wetland habitat for wildlife.

There will be arranging guided tours of Number 3 bed with the opportunity to see Black-necked Grebe with young and a variety of other wildfowl. There will also be a ringing exhibition and birds will be shown “in the hand”.

Exhibitors include R.S.P.B., Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation.

Car parking will be available but please note that the guided tours may not be suitable for people with walking difficulties.

A party from the L.O.S. will be leaving from Doctors Nook Car park in Leigh at 9:15am.

Full details are on the website www.woolstoneyes.co.uk

LOSYBC's Busy Week

Last week was quite busy for the L.O.S. Young Birders' Club.  Following the Fun Day in Lilford Park where we had a stall to promote the L.O.S. and the Y.B.C., we gave our second presentation to pupils at Gilded Hollins Community Primary School as well as our first evening presentation to 1st Astley Gilwell Cubs. You can read all about these on the LOSYBC website by clicking on the links below:
And tomorrow afternoon (Monday 17 June) we're taking a party of 30 Year 6 pupils from Gilded Hollins around the hides at Pennington Flash for some guided birding walks - no rest for the wicked then!

Our Local Peregrines

Here's the new fledgling from our local Peregrine Falcons:

As well as the constant chatter of Chaffinches, at about 30 seconds you can hear the sound of some Black-headed Gulls overhead and the juvenile Peregrine ducks down and turns it head sideways to listen. Shortly after this it takes off and flies to a different location.

L.O.S. in the Park

Four members of the L.O.S. and the Young Birder's Club team were in Lilford Park in Leigh yesterday for a family fun day involving the Friends of Lilford Park (FOLP) action group and a fun fair.

The FOLP were asking members of the public to sign a petition which is lobbying for the park toilets to be refurbished, as well as many other improvements.

These are an essential public facility needed for this superb community resource, especially on days like these.  Lilford Park has some of the oldest woodland in the area and it's a fabulous place to visit to get outdoors and see nature.

Click here for more fun day photos.

Dave Wilson, Tony Bishop, Martyn Jones and L.O.S. chairman David Shallcross had a stall with materials publicising the L.O.S. and Young Birders' Club in the hope of attracting new members of all ages. We took a lot of signatures from interested families to add to our  email mailing list for future events.

As well as this we took several youngsters and their parents on short guided bird watching walks along the new path at the edge of the woods.  There wasn't too much about to see, but Dave Wilson is an expert on bird song and calls and so 12 bird species were identified in the area.

It was really nice to see a good turnout from some very keen pupils from St. Thomas' C.E. Primary School which we visited for the second time last Wednesday (report to follow) - Hi to Amie and older sister Lauren, Darren and brother Ethan, William and not forgetting AJ and his friend.

We made lots of new friends and contacts and have even arranged to do a presentation at 1st Astley Cubs next Thursday evening.  We also hope to be doing another guided walk around Pennington Flash in the near future so keeping reading the website for details and have a look at our new LOSYBC calendar here.

BBC Radio 4 'Tweet of the Day'

BBC Radio 4 has embarked on a year-long project entitled 'Tweet of the Day' whereby each weekday a different bird's song or call will be played and briefly described by famous naturalists such as David Attenborough and Miranda Krestovnikoff.

These short 90 second programmes are available on the radio at the unearthly time of 5:58 am each day except on weekends. Fortunately, they are also available for downloading or listening to on the internet, and so I have linked to them here on our website:

BBC Radio 4 'Tweet of the Day' Home Page

BBC Radio 4 'Tweet of the Day' Programmes

In addition, the above BBC webpage link will appear on our side menu to the right as well as the last five programmes broadcast.  The programmes here can be played by simply clicking on them.

We have a Winner !

After weeks of looking at all the excellent designs submitted by pupils from four local primary schools, the L.O.S. Young Birders' Club finally has a winner for our 'Design a Logo' competition.  We're sorry this has taken a little longer than anticipated, but the standards were very high and it was difficult to choose just one winner.

The lucky winner is:
Kimberley Butterworth 
from St. Richard's Primary School

Well done Kimberley, the L.O.S. Young Birders' Team will also be visiting your primary school to present your prize soon.  Here is Kimberley's logo and you will also be able to see it at the top of our LOSYBC webpages for the next year.
Some of the designs which gave us such difficulty in choosing are now available to see in our LOSYBC artwork gallery page here.

LOSYBC Easter Guided Walks at Pennington Flash

Sam Wade gets an eyeful of birds!

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club met at Pennington Flash for the second time on Easter Sunday.  It was quite cold but very sunny and so the prospects for bird sightings were good. British Summertime had started in the early hours of this morning and so our 10am start was really still 9am for the birds!

Joan Disley talking to Mr Chapman about Frank Horrocks
Armed with checklists and a set of identification photographs, the youngsters were all very keen to record as many birds as possible.  Pairs of binoculars were lent to those who needed them and a scope was set up for viewing distant birds.

We actually spent far longer on the car park than anticipated but there were such a lot of birds to see on the Flash, including Goldeneye, WigeonGreat Crested Grebe and Common Gull as well as the 'usual suspects' of Tufted DuckCootMallard,  Mute Swans and Black-headed Gulls.  

We were treated to an extended flypast by our resident Muscovy Duck (probably a collection or farmyard escapee) with two of the L.O.S.'s most experienced birders (David Wilson and Roy Rhodes) both saying that they'd never seen one fly so far before!

Did you see it? It went that way!

Seven members of the L.O.S. were on hand to give help and guidance where needed, although it has to be said that some of the youngsters didn't need it.  

We were all very surprised as a Gull quickly flew past and when asked what it was, Kristian quickly replied, "A Common Gull ". And after Roy Rhodes had checked it out with his scope,  the young birder was proved to be absolutely correct!

With the checklists completed for this area, we next visited Horrocks' Hide where most of the birds were quite distant.  The usual pack of Cormorants were on the end of the spit, with some holding their wings out to dry in a characteristic pose.  There were also many Gulls present, including Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Common Gulls. The keen eyes of the L.O.S. members managed to point out both Redshank and Snipe to the party, the latter of which are very hard to spot.

From here we went on to Bunting Hide feeding station which rarely fails to please.  The birds here are much smaller and many are referred to as LBJ's (a technical birding term meaning Little Brown Jobs) as they often move too fast to be seen clearly.  But at this location you will always get a good view without any special equipment except for your eyes, and particularly when there is food on the tables.

Here's the full list of what we saw:
I hope you've got your sunglasses on!
That's 12 species from just one hide in no more than 15 minutes!  Not bad, eh?  The youngsters were fascinated watching the birds coming and going around the feeders and tables here - sometimes it was a hive of activity with many species on view at the same time, and then suddenly they flew away because something had spooked them, such as a loud noise or a nearby Sparrowhawk.  It wasn't be long before they came back though.

Finally we had a quick look in Teal Hide where we saw Goosanders, Shovelers, Gadwall and, of course, Teal.

And that was that -  a very pleasant morning spent in the company of some enthusiastic young birders and their families. A total of 42 species were seen during our 2 hour tour of the hides.

If you're interested in coming on one of our guided walks, look in the 'Meetings' section of this website for details of the next one, which will be in late April or early May.

How can you tell it's Easter?

You can click on any of the bird names in this report to find more information about each bird from the RSPB website.

L.O.S. at Leigh Library - Saturday 30th March

Some members of the L.O.S. will be at Leigh Library from 9:30am until about 1:30pm tomorrow (Saturday 30th March) to promote the Society, our Young Birders' Club and some guided walks we're doing around the hides at Pennington Flash on Sunday 31st March (Easter Sunday).

We'll be able to answer any questions you may have about the L.O.S. or our Young Birders' Club as well collecting names and e-mail addresses for our mailing list of future events.

So if you're in Leigh tomorrow morning, why not pop along to the Library and have a chat.  We look forward to meeting you!


Well it was a little quiet at the Library for a Saturday (probably due to it being Easter weekend), but we met a few families who all seemed quite interested in the Young Birders' Club and several who said they would be at Pennington Flash tomorrow for the guided walks.

Thanks to Brian and Roy who helped man the stand with me for a few hours and thanks also to the staff at Leigh Library who were very helpful and accommodating.

St. Richard's R.C. Primary School Presentation

Our last series of primary school presentations before Easter have been at St. Richard's R.C. Primary School in Atherton. We visited the school twice to give our 'new style' presentations which split the feeding of birds from the their identification.

Our first session started with a Y4 class and later a Y5 class with George introducing Leigh Ornithological Society and explaining what the Society is and does and why we call it the L.O.S. (most of us can't even say Ornithological never mind spell it!). George then went on to tell the children why we're visiting schools, especially at this time of year, with details of how we call all help the birds in our gardens, parks and schools.

Getting Started
The presentation then began a discussion about which birds we are not likely to see locally such as Penguins, Ostriches, Hummingbirds and Golden Eagles with reasons as to why not. This was followed with a short quiz with photographs on some of the birds we should be able to see quite easily both locally and in our own gardens. There was a very good response from the children who were keen to answers questions and who also had many of their own.

Making a hanging bottle seed feeder
Then it was time for the main activity which Brian explained and demonstrated very carefully and clearly to each of the classes.

The Y4 class made hanging seed feeders from a recycled plastic bottle by inserting two thin garden canes at right-angles for perches, poking holes around the middle of the bottle through which the birds can eat the seed and then threading some garden wire through the top to hang it up.

A completed fatball feeder
The Y5 class made some fatball feeders by cutting the bottom off a plastic bottle, making a hole in the side for the birds to eat the fatball and threading some garden wire through the top to hang it up.

The fatball was then placed inside with the netting removed so that the birds don't get trapped. This simple feeder is actually one of the quickest and most effective of all the ones we make.

Martyn explaining bird foods
After this Martyndescribed and demonstrated some of the best types of bird food to use in and around the feeders at home and in school. This included sunflower hearts, black sunflower seeds, nyger seed, fatballs, peanuts and monkey nuts, mealworms as well as mixed seed.

A tub of each type of food was shown to the children who were very interested in the different sizes, shapes and colours of each.

This section was completed by briefly mentioning that some birds prefer to eat off the ground or bird tables, whereas others eat by hanging from tree branches. More is done on this in the next session.

Filling the seed feeder with seed
The first session was completed by Martyn who gave some details about the L.O.S. Young Birders' Club and website as well as our next planned guided walk around Pennington Flash - a letter was given out for the children to take home to their parents.

Finally the pupils were asked to design a new logo for our Young Birders' Club and told that it was a competition with a bird-related prize for the winner. But perhaps more importantly, the winning design will be used on the LOSYBC website and any other documents we produce.

Our second visit to St. Richard's was focused on bird identification. The main activity was to build a rotating Bird ID Dial and then use it to identify some birds from photographs.

Brian's demonstration
Brian clearly demonstrated how to make the Bird ID Dial and explained how it could be used. He was very keen to emphasise that the cutting out should be done ''carefully, accurately and meticulously!"

Carefully, accurately and meticulously!
After the demonstration the children worked in pairs to cut out the dial's two cardboard discs and then fasten them together with a split pin fastener.

When they had finished, Martyn went to explain that some birds feed mainly on the ground and other mainly by hanging from branches, although they both may sometimes do the opposite when food is short.

After a brief outline of many ground feeding birds, he described two of them in detail, the Blackbird and Chaffinch, with large colour diagrams projected on the whiteboard and then finished off with the songs that each bird makes. Brian then did the same for two hanging feeder birds, the Blue Tit and Goldfinch. The class really enjoyed seeing the drawings and hearing the different sounds

Hard at work on the bird quiz
This identification section was completed by doing two quizzes based on bird photographs. In the the first quiz the children had to use what they had just learnt and their ID dials to identify some common garden birds from full photographs, writing their answers on a sheet.

The second quiz was a little harder, because only parts of the birds were shown in the photographs. A few pupils even went on to do a third quiz which was much harder than the first two.

The children all worked very hard on these quizzes and many got all the answers correct, so well done to all of you!

Hanging the feeders
Our final activity was to go outside and hang up some of the feeders which the children made last week. A pair of step ladders was borrowed from the caretaker as well as a window pole to pull down some branches of a nearby tree.

Risking life and limb, Martyn stood on the steps to hang up a group of four feeders outside the Y4 classroom so that it could be seen from their windows - the same was also done with the Y5 class. However, as it was quite cold and windy, it wasn't surprising that we didn't stay outside for very long!

It was a pleasure to visit St. Richard's because all the pupils and staff (Mrs King, Ms. Cunningham, Ms. McGhee and the Office Staff) were very welcoming and enthusiastic. We hope to go back again sometime to do a session on recording the birds we can see either on the feeders, or perhaps on a short fieldtrip somewhere.
Martyn Jones

Photo of the Week - Whiffling Geese

Whiffling Canada Geese at Moore Nature Reserve in Warrington
I'd never heard of the behaviour called 'whiffling' before I took this photograph. Apparently some birds, particularly geese, fly upside down to slow down and lose height just before landing, and this is known as 'whiffling'. These were lucky shots as I didn't realise at what I'd got until I looked at them on the computer back at home.

Whiffling Canada Geese - (c) Martyn Jones

Fieldtrip to Marbury Country Park – 10th March 2013.

Anyone who likes walking in an icy cold wind with snow blowing around would have loved this trip. Even so, the snow was only fine and didn’t stick on the ground, so it didn’t hold us up. However, when we arrived at the car park for Marbury Country Park it looked as though there was snow on some of the trees as the Blackthorn blossom was now open.

We made our way to the hide by the side of Budworth Mere and saw a number of smaller birds in this area, including four different members of the Tit family, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Reed Bunting and Nuthatch. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming, a Jay was seen and just behind us a Song Thrush was trying out its song. One of our members who had arrived well before we did had also seen Treecreeper and a Kestrel. The Mere itself gave us Great Crested Grebes, of which two birds were doing the head shaking part of their courtship display and we also saw Cormorant, Tufted Duck and a Grey Heron. A single Sand Martin which was flying round over the water must have been wondering if had it taken a wrong turn with the cold winds, snow and everything else it was having to face.

Onto Hayden’s Pool where we saw Lapwing, Teal, Gadwall, some more Tufted Ducks and it was near here that we had some good vies of a few Buzzards flying low as they took flight from the trees they had been perched in. The only other plants I saw in flower were some Gorse but all round there area I was seeing Cuckoo Pint, Ramsons and Bluebells leaves now through the ground and growing well, although as yet not in flower.

We moved to Neumann’s Flash for our last stop where we saw Shelduck, Shoveler, Mute Swans, Black-headed Gulls, a lot of which now had their dark heads, more Great Crested Grebes, Grey Heron and two Oystercatchers which flew past us.

On our way back to the start we managed to get a good look at a male Great Spotted Woodpecker on a dead tree and on a small pool was a single Black Swan by the side of two Mute Swans. As we watched these birds preening it gave us a good chance to compare the difference in size between the two species and could see how much smaller the Black Swan was.

Finally we arrived back at the car park and it was time for home but as we travelled back we could see hills in the distance now white on their tops with a covering of snow. Thanks to Al for organising the trip, Martin Ansell for his knowledge of this area and leading us round and to Martyn for my lift.
Jeff Hurst

Ynys-hir Trip Date Changes

Please note that the planned fieldtrip to Ynys-hir RSPN Nature Reserve has been changed to Wednesday 22nd May due to the proximity to the trip to Lesbos which only returns on the previous Saturday.

It's the place where a recent BBC Springwatch was filmed and should be a great day out. All are welcome but please remember it's an early start (7am) from Doctor's Nook Car Park.

L.O.S. Young Birders' Club visits Lilford Park

On Monday 25th February the L.O.S. Young Birders' Club team (Tony, George, Brian and Martyn) accompanied two classes of young naturalists and their teachers from St. Thomas' C.E. Primary School to Lilford Park in Leigh as part of their school curriculum on the environment.

Atherton Wood and Bedford Wood (also known as Hough Wood) are part of the boundary plantations of Atherton Hall which had an 18th-century landscaped park. Bedford Wood was presented to Leigh by Lord Lilford in 1914 and became Lilford Park.  There is now a volunteer group dedicated to ensuring the park's future who have their own website called The Friends of Lilford Park.

An artist's impression of the guided busway
In the Park the children wanted to see for themselves the effect the proposed £76,000,000 'Guided Busway' from Leigh to Manchester is having on the environment, as well as enjoying the experience of being in some of the oldest woodland in the area.

Back at school the children will be using this first hand experience to do some descriptive and persuasive writing about whether they think the guided busway is a good thing or not.  Hopefully this trip will help them make up their own minds.

Unfortunately, the bird life in Lilford Park seems to have suffered a decline in recent years and so the LOSYBC Team came armed with identification sheets for trees, spring flowers and winter twigs, just in case there weren't so many birds about.

George's Group
Whilst we waited for the children's arrival at the main gates, we did see a Nuthatch high up in the trees as well as a Robin, some Magpies and a Crow. Although we couldn't see them, we could soon hear the enthusiastic chatter of the children from deep within the woods and so we made our way towards them, to meet at the top of the main pathway in the park.  After handing out bird checklists and splitting the classes into four groups each with a teacher and an L.O.S. member, we set off to explore the woods.

Martyn and Brian's Group
George set off with his group first and spent a lot of time identifying the vegetation types as well as spotting the odd bird or two.  Martyn stopped his and Brian's groups and asked all the children to be as quiet as possible.  He explained that listening to the birds and hearing their calls and songs is as important as being able to see them.  Whilst they were quiet a Blue Tit, Chaffinch and a Robin were heard, as well as the cawing of two Carrion Crows flying overhead.

Tony Talks to Everyone
We next stopped at the route of an old railway line which used to run through the park.

Tony explained that  many railway lines were closed in the 1960's following the Beeching Reports and that the proposed guided busway follows the route of some former railway lines from Leigh to Manchester via Tyldesley, Ellenbrook and Salford.

The Route of the Old Railway Line
Here the children saw evidence of some of the many trees which have already been chopped down along stretch of the 13 mile route.  He told the children that this was being done early in the year to avoid the breeding season when many birds would be nesting here, so as to cause as little disturbance as possible. And it seems that ecological surveys have already been carried out with some great crested newts relocated to a purpose-built pond somewhere along the route.

A Worker on the Guided Busway
Whilst we were near the proposed route we met a worker along the route who said that the trees being chopped down were being shredded into 'mulch' to put on gardens, and so they weren't being entirely wasted.

The busway is supposed to cut journey times by 45 minutes, with at least eight direct services on most of the route at peak times on weekdays.

Hugging a tree
We then went deeper into some of the older parts of Lilford Woods where the children used the sheets to identify the vegetation.

They found many beech (mast) nuts and acorns, some sycamore seeds, a pine cone or two and the remains of a few conkers.  Some of the trees here are very old as can be told by their size and one group of children joined hands to encircle a tree and give it a hug!

Looking for Woodpecker holes
Martyn pointed out the many woodpecker holes, particularly in the softer bark of Silver Birch trees and he explained that the smaller holes were where the woodpecker was digging for insects whereas the larger holes were for nesting and rearing young.

He also said that the rotting tree stumps and branches were an important food source for insects, which in turn are an important food source for birds.

Identifying a Leaf
From the leaf litter, Brian's group identified birch, beech, oak, conifers, horse chestnut and sycamore as some of the important trees species here and the evergreen rhododendrons, holly and ivy as the dominant shrub species here.

The spring flowers weren't out (we didn't see any Snowdrops here today) yet but we did find some wild garlic leaves and a few fungi growing on the bark of dead trees.

Tony is given a Sycamore Seed
The children were very methodical in the process of identification, giving reasons for ruling out the species their specimens couldn't be, before choosing their best answer. They were constantly finding things of interest and were very keen to find out what they were.

Towards the end of the trip Tony also explained about the flood prevention mechanisms which have been put in place here to avoid flooding in the Lilford and Bedford areas of Leigh.  A large flood storage basin has been created with a gate at one end which can be closed to hold back the floodwaters.  With the gate closed, the water fills the basin and floods the meadows along one side of Atherton Wood, protecting the local houses.

To finish off the children had some time on the swings and slides in the playground area of the park.  This was a really nice way to end what had been a very pleasant and successful morning for all of us. A big thanks must go to Mrs Currie, Mrs Chambers and all the support staff who made this such an enjoyable experience.

Martyn Jones