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