Big Garden Birdwatch event at Pennington Flash - 27th January 2013

(c) Shannon Shaw
On Sunday 27 January, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) held another birding event at Pennington Flash to coincide with the RSPB's 'Big Garden Birdwatch' weekend.

The event began at 11am on a bitterly cold and windy day, but that didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the volunteers and families too much.  There were still some remnants of the previous day's snowfall in some parts of the Country Park, but nothing that proved too much of a problem for access.

Eagle Owl (c) Alan Flavell
The RSPB had a stall to attract new members as well as selling a variety of bird books and related items and WLCT staff were on hand making fat feeders.

Matt Holker from the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit shared a stall with the L.O.S. and was engaging young people in birding and nature quiz games as well as asking their parents to complete a short survey.

Great Grey Owl - (c) Alan Flavell
Nestboxes could be bought and many families were seen later going home with youngsters carrying them. There was also a craft stall selling hand-made products, but for many the main attraction was the display of several stunning birds of prey by Vicky Jolley.

On display was an Eagle Owl, Barn Owl, Scops Owl, Great Grey Owl and Harris Hawk and the public could have their photograph taken holding one of the birds for a small charge.

(c) Shannon Shaw
Dave Wilson very kindly offered to take interested adults on a walk around the north western side of the Flash - as this would take an hour or so it was more suitable for adults and older children and a party set off around 11:30am.

(c) Shannon Shaw
Joan Disley and Jeff Hurst were based in Bunting Hide feeding station where the youngsters and families enjoyed looking at the smaller woodland birds such as Willow Tits, Bullfinches, Reed Buntings as well as the more common Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnocks and Robins.

Bunting hide rarely disappoints even the most casual birdwatcher!

Joan said the youngsters really enjoyed identifying the birds and ticking them off on the checklist, and some of the adults did too!

Inside Bunting Hide (c) Martyn Jones
Inside Bunting Hide (c) Martyn Jones

Scoping from Horrocks Hide (c) Shannon Shaw
George Pike, Brian Fawcett and Eric Munro were based in Horrocks Hide with a spotting scope overlooking the spit. The prospects weren't too good as the cold wind was blowing in through the hide windows and the birds were all taking shelter amongst the vegetation on the edges of the water. However they did manage to see some Goosanders, Cormorants, Teal, Coots, Moorhens, Black-headed Gulls and they were treated to a brief flypast by three Pintails.  Once again the youngsters who visited the hide enjoyed identifying the birds using the photo sheets and checklists.

Keeping a checklist at Bunting Hide (c) Martyn Jones
A couple of days earlier, Roy Rhodes had very kindly pre-seeded the two bird tables sited just off the paths on the way to Horrocks and Ramsdales hides to ensure some birds along the way, and based himself at the Ramsdale's Hide end of the path.

The aim was to take people round to the reedbeds where it was presumed most of the water fowl would be sheltering from the harsh wind.  However, the poor weather conditions meant that very little birdlife was in view here.

The L.O.S. Stall (c) Martyn Jones
Back on the stall Jim Disley did a sterling job of advertising the L.O.S. and handing out flyers and information sheets whilst Martyn Jones was busy moving about between the hides and the stalls checking that everything was going as smoothly as possible.

Some of the pupils from our recent visits to local primary schools turned up and took part and even one of the teachers brought her family, which was very nice to see.

(C) Shannon Shaw

On the whole it was a successful start for the L.O.S. Young Birders' Club and we hope to follow it up with another event soon, where we will take youngsters on a longer walk round the hides here with hopefully more waterfowl in view!

Thanks to all the L.O.S. members for turning out on such a cold and windy day when they could have stayed in bed - at least the snow had gone as quickly as it had arrived yesterday. And thanks must also go to Michelle and the WLCT staff team for organising the day and putting up the stalls in the wind, but most importantly for the tea and biscuits which were very well received!
See you all next year!

Did you see it ? (c) Shannon Shaw
Martyn Jones

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1 comment:

David Shallcross said...

Great work from the team, well done.

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