A slightly faded, sepia-tinted photograph of the fourteen-strong Committee of 1977 and 1978 is retained in the Society archive. This committed body of men had worked together for a few years to propel the Leigh Ornithological Society forward into being regarded as a reliable and highly-respected regional organization in terms of bird recording, indoor and outdoor meetings, the production of newsletters and annual reports, and wildlife conservation.

A major priority in the 1970s, and subsequently, was to strive to gain protective status for important sites in our recording area – the mosses at Astley and Risley; the flashes at Hindley, Lightshaw, Pennington and Wigan; a cluster of waters near Bolton; and wooded habitats in the Chorley/Rivington area. Prominent among the Committee stalwarts at this time, in both physical stature and in his infectious determination to enhance the Society's range of activities, was Alban Wincott who sadly passed away on September 26th.

Unmistakably referred to as AWHW in ornithological literature, Alban spent just sixteen years in our area, but his impact here was as important and impressive as it had been before, and was to be later, in his beloved Midlands homeland.

Born in Nuneaton in 1934, Alban's family moved to Attleborough on his third birthday, and it was here that his passion for wildlife flourished. As a sixteen-year-old, in 1952, he was a co-founder of the Nuneaton Birdwatchers' Club and served on its committee for seventeen years. During this time he was a prominent member of the group of local conservation activists who were instrumental in getting the former gravel pits at Brandon designated a reserve as Brandon Marshes.

Upon completion of his National Service in the mid-1950s, Alban had joined Courtaulds Limited, and during this employment he moved to the Manchester area where he soon became immersed in all matters relating to local wildlife. As Honorary Secretary of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust for some years, his main commitment was in conserving and developing sites in Greater Manchester, most notably at Doffcocker and Rumworth: further afield, he had the vision to pave the way for the Trust's purchase of Mere Sands Wood.

Alban's reputation as an enthusiastic supporter of moves to safeguard wetland sites at Bolton brought about an invitation to attend a Committee meeting of our fledgling Society in March, 1974, and thereafter the minutes books illustrate the range of his contributions and suggested initiatives. In the next two years alone he became a slide-show presenter at Members' Evenings; served as Master of Ceremonies at the 1975 Public Film Show and instigator of, and toastmaster at, the first Annual Dinner Dance in the same year; chaired Social Committee meetings and participated in the deliberations of the Bird Records Sub-Committee; and, in 1976, organized a memorable short holiday to Speyside for a few of his Committee colleagues.

Those members of the Society from over a quarter of a century ago, even though they haven't seen Alban for many years, will surely be deeply saddened to learn of his passing away, for he was the kindest of men, an enthusiastic motivator who never expected others to do what he could do himself, and a true friend who endeared himself to all who came to know him by his smiling, courteous and gentle demeanour.

Alban returned to his roots thirty years ago, and a notice in the newsletter of the Nuneaton and District Birdwatchers' Club summarizes his renewed involvement when he left us and returned to his homeland: - “On his return to Warwickshire in 1984, he took up where he left off as an avid member of the club he founded and was appointed Club President. He also returned to his tireless work as a conservation volunteer at Brandon, driving forward many of the projects. He was a speaker at many natural history clubs and we have all sat enthralled by his great photographs, profound knowledge and boyish enthusiasm as he has taken us across Europe and around Brandon with equal aplomb”.

As this autumn approached, and fully aware of the severity of his declining health, Alban requested that three of his contemporaries on the old photograph should perhaps wish to visit him, so that we could share mutual recollections of happier days and so that we could bid each other our final farewells, and, at different times, Peter Guy, Roy Rhodes and myself travelled south and spent enjoyable time with him and Jean. Since that last meeting, I have come across Alban's very first comments at his first Committee meeting, and they display a prophetic tendency in the light of the growing success of the recently-formed Young Birders' group. Even though the group's progress hasn't been identical to Alban's suggestions, it would be an appropriate gesture if his advice came to fruition some day:- Extract from the minutes of the Committee meeting in the Eagle and Hawk Inn, Leigh, on 22nd March, 1974: “Mr. A.W.H.Wincott suggested that active conservation work would be more successful if Junior Members were involved …..... He also suggested making contact with local schools with a view to the possible involvement of pupils in work parties.”

And so, as another great name in the history of our Society leaves the stage, it's important to state that many obituaries and messages of appreciation often exaggerate the qualities of those who have passed away. In Alban Wincott's case, exaggeration is unnecessary, for the simple truth is that he was among the finest of men – an inspiration to many; a dear friend to most; and a colleague who holds a very special place in the history of the LOS and in the hearts of those members who were privileged to spend time in his company.

On behalf of the Society, condolences have already been sent to Jean, Alban's dear wife of fifty years, and she, in turn, will no doubt convey to her immediate family our genuine thoughts of affection for our dear friend and our collective grief at his passing.
Dave Wilson

L.O.S. Founder Member Leads Bickershaw Rucks Walk

Dave Wilson, the man who wrote the book on Pennington Flash and founder member of the L.O.S. led a very interesting walk around the brownfield site which used to be Bickershaw Colliery last week in conjunction with Red Rose Forest.

The trip was organised by Jessica Thompson at Red Rose and a party of sixteen people turned up to be educated and informed about this reclaimed industrial landscape. Good weather favoured us as can be seen in the photos below.

We started off on the 'Road to Nowhere' as it has become known locally - this is tarmaced road leads down into the Rucks from Bickershaw Lane and which was originally intended to lead to a number of new community facilities and resources on the site, but these schemes have stalled or perhaps even been abandoned completely now.  Fortunately for us, this now provides excellent access to the Rucks.

Dave was very keen to stress the different grassland areas which are now home to many species of birds and other animals and which, if not carefully managed, will quickly revert to Birch, Willow and Alder woodlands thus destroying this valuable habitat and reducing the biodiversity in the area.

For example Cuckoos breed here most years because of the availability of suitable 'donor' nesting birds such as Meadow Pipits - if the Meadow Pipits can't nest in the area, the Cuckoos won't come anymore.

There are three main flashes in the area, Diggle, Fir Tree, Tinker Joe's and we could see them all although we didn't approach them closely.

Dave informed why the flash named as Nevison's Flash on the map is known locally as Tinker Joe's due to a resident who used to live by it making cans.

The area does have a problem with 4x4 vehicles, quadbikes and motorbikes causing severe erosion and rutting as well as driving at high speeds and being a danger to walkers and animals.

Although we didn't go out intending to record birds in particular more than 30 species were noted, including a pair of Stonechats, a hovering Kestrel, a Buzzard, many Meadow Pipits, Lapwings and Skylarks and a Water Rail which was heard but not seen.

L.O.S. member Bernard McGurrin regularly records the birds seen at Bickershaw and his reports can be viewed on the Manchester Birding Forum (see web link below).

Several species of fungi were also seen including Fly Agaric, Birch Bolete, Common Earth Ball, and three Cortinarius species.
We had a great morning out and we encourage everyone who has never been to Bickershaw Rucks to go and have a look for themselves - it's well worth it.

No doubt Dave Wilson will be leading another similar trip in the spring when there will be a lot more birds about hopefully including Cuckoos.

Our thanks go out to Dave and Jess.

Photographs (C) David Shallcross 2014

Useful Related Links

Friday Night's Speaker Produced The Goods

Ian Newton's show "ALASKA" was absolutely brilliant. He was very clearly spoken and he presented an hour and fifteen minutes worth of information, humour, and stunning photography.

Ian described himself as a photographer not a birder, but listening to him you wouldn't have thought that for one minute as he was very knowledgeable of his subjects. His photography is superb in every way, the images being crisp and clear.

Thanks Ian for a memorable evening's entertainment.

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Presentations Begin

Today three members of our Young Birders' Club team visited Gilded Hollins Primary School in Leigh for their first presentation of the 2014-2015 season. 

The pupils were very responsive and enthusiastic and so the session went really well - you can read all about it here:

AGM - Friday 3rd October

Tomorrow night's meeting at the 180 Club in Railway Road, Leigh is our Annual General Meeting. Items for the agenda should be passed to our Chairman David Shallcross as soon as possible.

This will be followed by a DVD-based presentation entitled 'A Bird for All Seasons" by our friend Gordon Yates. The bar will be open throughout our stay.

LOSYBC Visits Leigh Rotary Club

Martyn and George were both very proud and very honoured to be invited to give a talk about the work of our Young Birder's Club to the Leigh Rotary Club today.  Unfortunately Tony was in Crete and Brian was still in France, so they couldn't make it.

After having lunch and completing some Rotarian business, George began the presentation with an explanation of how Leigh Ornithological Society was formed in 1971, largely as a result of the work going on at Pennington Flash at the time.  A photo of our founder members and a map of the Flash were used to illustrate the talk.

After this Martyn explained the aims of our Young Birders' Club and described the work we have been doing with local primary schools and youth groups over the last 18 to 24 months.  Lots of photos were shown of children engaged in outdoor activities including guided walks, wildflower planting and birdwatching.  Here's a short video (which we also used at the Wigan Greenheart Awards) showing some of our best photos:

The talk was finished off with this slideshow entitled 'The Beauty of Birds', which consisted of a number of photographs taken mainly in the L.O.S. recording area by our chairman David Shallcross and Martyn Jones.

The presentation seemed to be very well received by the Rotarians and they generously donated £50 to our Young Birders' Club to help continue the work we do. Thank-you.

Fieldtrip to Hilbre Island and Burton Mere Wetlands

Whilst we are awaiting Jeff's full report on this fieldtrip, just a short note to say that we had a successful trip to the Wirral where we walked over to Hilbre Island from the marine lake at West Kirby and saw Whimbrel, Rock Pipits, Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Teal, Redshank, Oystercatchers and various gulls. But perhaps the highlight here was around 50 seals basking on a sandbank whilst the tide was out, with one or two closer sightings in the sea near the tip of the island.

Some members went on Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB where they saw a variety of waders including Greenshank, Little Stint, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and a Hobby.  A good day was had by all.

The New Season Kicks Off

We began our 2014-2015 season with a presentation by John Barlow about birds around the Turton, Entwistle and Wayoh Reservoirs. This was the first of our Friday night presentations in our new home at the 180 Club on Railway Road in Leigh.

As usual John gave a very interesting talk about the birds on his local patch with some excellent photographs and details about how they were taken. We look forward to seeing him again next year.

The new venue seemed to work quite well and has the added attraction of a bar being available throughout the presentation without the need to leave the premises at 9:30pm. Although we had some 30 or so members present, it would be good to see a few more at the next event.

Leigh's Brownfield Sites Nature Video Slideshow

There have been many references to “brownfield” sites in Leigh, sometimes with bewildering regularity. Rather than singing the praises of these places by the written word, this audio-visual presentation (with the majority of photographs from Bickershaw and North Leigh) will surely give a more accurate picture of what we already have and, tragically, what we might well lose if there's no resistance to plans to develop our green spaces.

Video slideshow produced by Dave Wilson and David Shallcross (2014).

Two Greenheart Awards for the L.O.S. Young Birders' Cub Team

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Team won two awards at the Wigan Greenheart 'Big Thank You 2014' event held at St. Peter's Pavilion in Hindley on Friday 27 June. Various presentations were given by a number of local volunteer groups and other organisations such as Natural England and the GM Ecology Unit.

Martyn Jones, Tony Bishop, George Pike and Brian Fawcett were presented with the 'Overall Winners' award for the work they and the extended team which includes Joan Disley, Jeff Hurst, Roy Rhodes and Dave Wilson have been doing with young people in the Wigan and Leigh area over the last 18 months - his came as quite a surprise to us.

George Pike, Martyn Jones and Tony Bishop receiving their Greenheart awards for the LOSYBC
Unfortunately Brian couldn't be present at the award presentation as he is on his annual summer migration in France, but he was emailed the details and photos from the ceremony.

Martyn Jones also received a Wigan Greenheart 'Community Champion' Award following a nomination by the other members of the LOSYBC for the work he has done in helping organise 27 events involving around 900 young people in local primary schools, Cubs, Beavers and Boys' Brigade packs. Here's a short video slideshow showing some of the things we have done.

These Greenheart awards reward the hard work that has been done by all the LOSYBC team members and give us the inspiration to continue our work with more young people in the future.  To read about the sort of work we've been doing with LOSYBC visit our website:


All Change for the L.O.S. Friday Night Presentations

Due to rising costs, ease of access and other issues, from September 2014 the L.O.S. Friday night meetings will be held at the 180 Club (formerly the Conservative Club) on Railway Road in Leigh.

The 180 Club is near the Leigh Town Hall car park where members will still be able to park free of charge on Friday nights and, as the room is on the ground floor, no stairs or lift are needed. Society members and visitors will have dedicated access from the car park to Back Salford Street.

As well as having comfortable seating and no pressure to leave at 9:30pm, various beverages will available from a bar which will be open next to the room during the meetings.  We hope that these new facilities will enable our members and visitors to have more time to mingle and chat in a more convivial atmosphere at all our future indoor meetings.

The full address of the 180 Club is:

180 Club
Railway Road
Please note:  Any references to L.O.S. indoor meetings being held at Leigh Library in the Derby Room on this website will be updated in due course.

L.O.S. Annual Sponsored Bird Watch

Our annual Sponsored Birdwatch will be held on Sunday 11 May this year and the customary meal afterwards will be held at the Raven Inn in Glazebury.  Please see your email from organiser Martin Ansell for details of the day and menus and let him know your numbers for the meal and choice as soon as possible, but by Saturday 3 May at the latest.

The five teams to date are:

Eric Munroe, Alan Wilcox, Martin Ansell, Keith Burgess

Dave Jones, Phil Tosh, Joe Doherty

Eddie King, George and Angela Pike, Michael Arundel

David Shallcross, Anne Other

Joan and Jim Disley, Martyn Jones, Jeff Hurst

  1. Use the Leigh OS recording area as defined on our website
  2. Species must be live and in their natural habitat, flying or on the ground (nothing caged) and on the British list
  3. Sightings should be by the team, not an uncorroborated individual sighting.  Please put where you saw a species on the Alphabetical Bird List so it can contribute to reports and make sure a copy gets to Eddie King, as Recorder, for verification on the day. Eddie has the last word on accepting sightings
It's not too late to enter a team, all you need is at least three people and a team name.  Then let Martin know and he'll send you a sponsorship form and bird checklist.

LOS Blacktoft Sands RSPB Fieldtrip Date Changed

Please note that the date of the LOS fieldtrip to Blacktoft Sands RSPB near Goole has been changed to Sunday 18th May.  Everyone is welcome to come especially prospective new members.

Photo of the Week - Cetti's Warbler at Pennington Flash

Adult Male Cetti's Warbler at Pennington Flash - 11 April 2014  (c) John Tymon
L.O.S. member John Tymon, a well known local birder and photographer, has sent us this very rare photograph of a Cetti's Warbler taken recently in our recording area.  Although these secretive and elusive little brown birds have been well known at the Wigan Flashes for some time, this is the first recorded Cetti’s Warbler ever at Pennington Flash where it has been skulking around singing loudly with it's distinctive song for about six months. You can listen to it's song here: Cetti's Warbler on Xeno Canto.

Almost impossible to see, even when they are singing just a few feet away in a bush, it's an accomplishment to even get a tiny glimpse of this bird nevermind photograph it. Many have tried and failed, but after six months of trying John has finally got the shot everyone wanted to see - naturally he is very pleased with the outcome.

As far as we know, this is the first time this bird has been photographed at Pennington Flash and only the second ever shot of one in Greater Manchester, as it's still a real rarity in this county.  So well done to John and thanks for sharing this excellent photograph with us.

Peaceful protest against Hen Harrier persecution

There will be a peaceful protest against Hen Harrier persecution somewhere in the north of England on or around (probably before) the ‘Glorious’ 12th August this year.

Let me know if you would be interested in taking part and wish to be kept informed by emailing

The number of people expressing an interest is now well into three figures and emails keep coming in.

It’s time for those who are disgusted by the scale of illegal persecution of this bird to raise their voices. Remember there should be around 300 pairs of Hen Harrier in the north of England and last year there were two. That is something to be angry about – or ashamed – depending on who you are.

Hen Harriers are reported to be holding territory on National trust land in Derbyshire in a general area where they have attempted nesting before. We urge the National Trust to do everything it can to protect these birds from persecution.

Original posting on Mark's blog : Peaceful protest against Hen Harrier persecution

Wildflower Planting in St. Catherine of Siena's Wildlife Garden

Today some members of the LOS Young Birders' Club Team went back to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School in Lowton to do some wild flower planting in their wonderful wildlife garden with Mr. Clegg's Year 3 class. LOS Conservation Officer Roy Rhodes very kindly donated many plants from his own garden to boost the stock here with the aim of increasing the biodiversity in this excellent school resource.

Roy Rhodes demonstrating planting to a group of St. Catherine's pupils
In our previous visit here we had carried out a short bird survey as part of the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch with Year 4 pupils.

Today it was the turn of Year 3 pupils and the aim was to increase the number of plants which would attract insects, spiders, moths and butterflies in the summer months when we hope to be back to do another 'bioblitz' day.

Getting 'stuck in'
The pupils came out well-prepared with their wellies in three separate groups of ten, each time accompanied by a member of St. Catherine's staff and they quickly got kitted up with gloves and trowels ready to start work.

Roy gave each group a short talk about why we are doing this activity followed by a demonstration of how to plant the wild flowers in the holes which we'd prepared earlier in the day.

All the pupils were very enthusiastic and keen to 'get their hands (well gloves) dirty' on the job. The LOS members worked with them in groups of three or four showing the pupils where to put the plants and talking to them about nature and wildlife in general.

Roy selected these plants from his garden because, fingers crossed, he thinks that they should do well in the soil conditions here.

We explained that some of the plants should grow and have flowers this summer, some will flower next year and many should self seed and produce even more plants for the garden.

The plants will attract insects and in turn we hope that these will attract more birds into the garden.  This is what is meant by increasing the biodiversity of an area.

Jeff showing an interested pupil what to do
Here's a list of what we planted:
The pupils were very keen to answer questions
  • St John's Wort
  • Wild Garlic
  • Vipers Bugloss
  • Foxglove
  • Mullein
  • Yellow Archangel
  • Dame's Violet
  • Red Campion
  • Jack-by-the hedge
  • Feverfew
  • Forget-me-not
The LOS Young Birders' Club Team hope to be back sometime in July with Roy's Moth Mobile to do another mothing session and to see what else the new plantings have brought to the garden.

Year 3 Pupils from St. Catherine's holding the wildflowers before planting them
It was a great couple of hours and everyone worked well together. Thanks must go out the LOS members who volunteered for this session - Jeff Hurst, George Pike and Martyn Jones as well as our Conservation Officer Roy Rhodes who planned and lead the group today.

More Year 3 pupils from St. Catherine's in their Wildlife Garden
All photographs (c) Martyn Jones 2014
You can click on any of the photographs to enlarge them

Free Wildlife Recording Conference

The Greater Manchester Local Record Centre is holding its first Wildlife Recording Conference on Saturday 29th March at Manchester Museum.  This event is supported by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The day will be a celebration of wildlife recording and a thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who spend time recording and submitting records. The day will be a chance to discover new opportunities for recording, meet like-minded recorders and find out what happens to data once it has been submitted.

If you would like to come along to this free event please fill in the on-line application form by Friday 28th February. Because places are limited we will let you know if your application is successful after this date. Full details of the programme and the booking form can be found here:

It would also be helpful if you could complete the feedback questions with the application form as we will use the information collected to feed into the day’s event and help plan our next year of activities.

We look forward to seeing you on the 29th March.

Suzanne Waymont MCIEEM, Senior Ecologist
Greater Manchester Ecology Unit
Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne
Tameside OL6 6DL

Tel: 0161 342 2771

LOSYBC visits 8th Wigan Boys' Brigade in Hindley

Young Birders in the Making
The LOS Young Birders' Club Team of Tony, George, Brian and Martyn paid a very successful visit to the 8th Wigan Boys Brigade Company at St. Peter's Pavilion in Hindley last week.  It was initially thought that this presentation would be something of challenge due to the large 8 to 16 age range of the boys there, but it went very well.

You can read a full report of the evening's events on our LOS Young Birders' Website here:  LOSYBC visits 8th Wigan Boys' Brigade

Our next presentation is on Monday 24 February at 13th/18th Leigh Beavers who meet at the Scout hut next to St. Thomas' Church in Bedford, Leigh.

Conway & Tal-y-Bont Fieldtrip – 16th February 2014

Snowdonia (c) Joan Disley
In the middle of all the chaos with our recent terrible weather, somehow we managed to get a decent day for our trip. As we traveled nearer and the distant Welsh mountains came into view, we could see they were covered in snow on their tops.

A few stints at sea watching at Pensarn and Llanfairfechan gave us a few different gulls and some of the Black-headed Gulls were now getting their dark heads returning, Fulmar and Cormorant were seen flying past, as was some Common Scoter but way out at sea, Great Crested Grebe and the odd diver were seen again out at sea and a few members even saw a Surf Scoter. Joan managed to spot a few Grey Plover flying past and we could also hear a Dunnock from a nearby railway embankment.

The Spinnies, Tal-y-bont (c) Joan Disley
On to Tal-y-Bont but unfortunately by now the tide was fully in so most of what could have been there to see had been disturbed by the incoming tide. Out on the water we could see some Goldeneye, Shelduck and a Merganser was seen. We had a close look at some Curlew flying past us and Oystercatchers and Redshank were seen. Although it was a distance from us we could make out a single Heron perched on a dead tree by the edge of the water. While we were walking to “The Spinnies” reserve some Greylag Geese were seen in one of the fields and a few Starlings were feeding in another field. From the hides overlooking the pools we saw a few Teal, two Little Grebe and just one Little Egret, a Goldcrest was seen and coming to some feeders were 4 species of Tits, House Sparrow and a Great Spotted Woodpecker amongst others. A Buzzard and Sparrowhawk flew past again although this time it took one of the Blue Tits with it.

Near this reserve were clumps of Snowdrops in flower but I wonder if these are from garden escapees; despite all the bad weather spring is trying to get started as the leaves of Cuckoo Pint are showing through.

Conwy Castle from the RSPB Reserve (c) Joan Disley
Our last stop was at the RSPB reserve at Conway were we saw more Goldeneye plus Pochard, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Merganser and both male and female Scaup. In waders we saw Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe and Oystercatcher. A Kestrel was seen hovering not far from the path and we saw more House Sparrows, Greenfinch and a beautiful Song Thrush singing from the top of a bush.

At this reserve the Gorse bushes were covered in their bright yellow flowers and the male catkins on the Hazel were a few inches long although I have been seeing these on our local Hazel for the past few weeks.

It was then time to start off back for home, so it is thanks to Al for organising the trip and to Joan and Jim for giving Jen and myself a lift.
Jeff Hurst

Iolo Williams and the 2013 'State of Nature Report'

Have a look at this impassioned speech by Iolo Williams relating to the UK's 2013 State of Nature Report (and don't worry, it's not all in Welsh):

Click the button in the centre of the video to play it
and then double-click on the video to make it go fullscreen.

Read or download the full report here (PDF format): State of Nature Full Report

or a summary of the report here (PDF format): State of Nature Report Summary

New L.O.S. Facebook Group

In an attempt to keep our members better informed as well as to help attract new members, I've setup a new L.O.S. Facebook group:

A permanent link to this address can be found on the right side of this page. You'll need to login to Facebook to see the group - please invite anyone you know who may be interested in birding, wildlife, nature and the environment.

Please feel free to use this group to publish your bird sightings and photos, give details of events relating to our Society and ask questions or provide information that will be of interest to our members. I hope everyone will find it useful.
Martyn Jones

Bird Walk on the Salford Mosses - Saturday 1 February

There will be a guided bird walk on the Salford Mosses with Dave Steel this Saturday, 1 February 2014 from 9.00 am. You can find out where the birds live, the different species and the fascinating history of the Moss on Barton and Chat. We will visit the old Peat Extraction site and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust reserve and the walk will last approximately 3 hours.

Park and meet in the layby next to the entrance to Barton Moss Road and wear sturdy boots and waterproof clothing.

James Walsh (reprinted from Manchester Birding Forum)

L.O.S. Formal Response to HS2 Consultation

The route of HS2 through this area terminates at Lightshaw with a through-line joining the West Coast Main Line (WCML) just south of Dover Lock. On the south side of the through line at Lightshaw there will be a rolling stock depot 2.5km long and at least 175m wide which will cut through the garden of Byrom Hall and leave Lightshaw Hall marooned in a car park within the depot.

The through-line will pass just 70m away from the main waterbody in the Lightshaw Meadows Nature Reserve. Lightshaw Lane and part of the reserve will be obliterated. The Society cannot stand by and let this happen. A covering letter signed by David Shallcross accompanied the response attached to this e-mail which went to HS2.

Click to enlarge or download from link below

Also attached herewith is a sketch map of the location of the depot, through-line and designated sites at Lightshaw so that you can see what is proposed. I have liaised extensively with local residents groups and they have also seen our response. Local residents with British Rail experience and with economics knowledge have individually set out very persuasive cases which propose that HS2 goes through Warrington instead and that the financial case for the Golborne spur from the Ship Canal is badly flawed and would make a loss.

The full L.O.S. response document can be downloaded from here: LOS Response to HS2 Consultation Document and the map from here: Sketch Map of Proposed HS2 Route at Lightshaw.

You can respond by e-mail to:

in an online response form:

or by post to:
Phase Two Route Consultation
PO Box 1152, Harrow, HA1 9LH

There is a consultation response document available, but it covers quite a lot of things outside our area and interests.

Closing date is 5pm on January 31, 2014
Roy Rhodes, L.O.S. Conservation Officer

Big Garden Birdwatch at Pennington Flash - Sunday 26 January

It's that time of year again, the last weekend in January when the RSPB asks us all to take part in an hour of recording the birds in our garden, parks and schools.

Bird populations are a great indicator of the health of the countryside. That's why it's so important to take part in surveys like the Big Garden Birdwatch to keep an eye on the ups and downs of the wildlife where we live.

To recognise this national initiative, the Leigh Ornithological Society is holding an event in partnership with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) at Pennington Flash from 10am to 3pm on Sunday 26th January. We're particularly keen to get young people involved in birding, nature and the environment, but all the activities are equally suitable for adults and families.

This year there will be stalls manned by the RSPB, Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and the Friends of Lilford Park as well those from the L.O.S. and WLCT. 

The activities will include:
  • Guided birdwatching walks to and from the main bird hides
  • Free bird ID sheets and identification help from experienced LOS members
  • Making bird feeders with the WLCT staff
  • Nature and wildlife quizzes with the GM Ecology Unit
  • and hopefully a birds of prey display (to be confirmed)

The RSPB will be giving out information about how you can join their organisation and so gain free access to their many bird and nature reserves around the whole country, as well as having books, bird food and other products available to buy.

We hope you can join us at Pennington Flash from 10am onwards and come for a walk round the hides to see which birds we can see during this exciting season.  We'll lend you some binoculars or a spotting scope and give you a free bird ID checklist to use as we walk round.

You can also take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch at home or in school by following the links shown below:
Why not have a look at the report of last year's event here on our Young Birders' Club Website: Big Garden Birdwatch 2013 - hopefully it won't be as cold this year!

See you soon

Leigh Ornithological Society's Young Birders' Club Team

Coming Soon ...

Reports on our two very successful Young Birders' Club presentations to Astley Beavers and Bedford Hall Methodist Primary school this week.

Astley Beavers' Report now on LOSYBC

Rostherne Mere Fieldtrip - 15th December 2013

Our last trip of 2013 was to Rostherne Mere, the largest of the Cheshire Meres and an English Nature site. On arriving we were met by some volunteers that were going to show us round the area so on the payment of £1 each we were soon walking through a small wooden area where we had Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few of the Tit family and Nuthatch. Redwing and Fieldfare were flying over, some of which landed near the top of the trees as did a few Goldfinch a little later.

There were some good sized trees in this wood, some of them having Ivy growing up them and I noticed one particular tree where the main stems of the Ivy coming from the ground were at least three inches in diameter so even that had been around for a few years.

We soon reached a small hide and because of the limited space inside we were split into two groups, one to go in the hide and the other to walk part way round the mere to where there was another wooded area. In their return we would change over so everyone had done the same things. Once in the hide we were told of a Bittern that had been seen in the reeds just by the side of the hide but we were not lucky enough to see it this time. Most of the ducks were quite a distance away towards the middle of the mere but we did manage to pick out the different species such as Goldeneye, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Wigeon. On the far side of the mere we could see a group of Cormorants perched in some large dead trees and were told that these trees are where the Cormorants usually nest each year and some members also spotted a Heron not far from these. We heard Water Rail squealing in the reeds not far from the hide and the other group had a good view of a Marsh harrier that they disturbed as they walked round. The bird flew towards the hide but dropped into the reedbed on one side before all of us in the hide managed to see it and it didn’t show itself again after this.

Eventually it was our turn to walk round and as we approached the other wood I saw a Bullfinch in some bushes and we could see Woodpigeons keep flying up from the tops of the trees. A little later we found out why when we spotted a Buzzard flying round over the trees. As we walked by the side of the water we saw both Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe and the other group had seen Reed Bunting.

As we walked round I spotted the last remaining flower on a Red Campion plant and up in one of the trees a Grey Squirrel’s drey. We had earlier seen a Grey Squirrel in the smaller wood running along the thing branches of the trees much faster than we were walking on the solid ground.

We met up back at the small hide so we could all walk out from this area but had one last stop off in their observatory from where we had views across the whole mere. From here we saw a number of birds we had already seen but also saw a Kestrel that landed near to the building and watched 2 Ravens flying over the water as they flew towards each other they would tumble, twist and turn in their flight.

This finished our visit off nicely and thanks must go to the volunteers for showing us round and for all the information they gave us. Thanks also to Al for setting up this trip and to Martyn for my lift.

Jeff Hurst

Marshside Fieldtrip - 19th January 2014

It was a dull start to the day as we set off from Leigh, but as we got nearer to Southport the sun was starting to show through so as we were travelling along the coast road towards Marshside the low sunshine gave a golden glow to the dead stalks of the saltmarsh grasses that it was now lighting up. Even at the car park the sun was showing a group of small birds off well as they perched on the bushes round where the old sand works used to be. I counted more than fifty birds and on a closer check we found they were mostly Goldfinch and Greenfinch with a few Reed Buntings and Linnets mixed in.

Once at the Sandgrounder’s Hide we could see Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler plus Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and a Ross’s Goose that has now been there for the last few weeks. As we came outside a few Pink-footed Geese flew past but our attention was soon drawn across the road to the saltmarsh where someone had seen a male Hen Harrier. We managed to find it but it was a very distant view, whenever it flew up we could see its lighter underside, pale grey back and black wing tips then it was soon down again. On one occasion when it flew up we could see a second Harrier also in the air which was much larger and this turned out to be a female Marsh Harrier. At the same time we could see a Peregrine Falcon perched on an old tree branch and although this was also way out on the saltmarsh it wasn’t quite as far because through the telescopes the markings on its breast were shown up well in the sunshine, and when I had a look I could see it preening its feathers.

While we were on the edge of the saltmarsh we could hear Skylark and Curlew and a Snipe was seen to fly up, the odd Cormorant flew past, Kestrel was seen and way in the distance a cloud like shape we could see was actually a large group of waders that would most likely be Knot or Dunlin. Checking towards the water’s edge we could also see a good number of Shelduck.

It was decided to leave Nel’s Hide until after we had made a visit to Hesketh Out Marsh in the hope that the sun would have moved round a little by then so we could see what was there. On our way to Hesketh Out Marsh we passed a large group of swans in fields not far from the road and these turned out to be both Whooper Swans and Mute Swans. At the viewing area we could see that the Shelduck numbers also continued along to this area plus some Teal, Redshank and Curlew was seen as was a Buzzard, Little Egret, PheasantMeadow Pipit as well as a distant Peregrine Falcon.

Female Long-tailed Duck - (c) Martyn Jones
On returning to Marshside we walked to Nel’s Hide where we saw good numbers of Pintail, there was a large group of Black-tailed Godwits, a lot of Lapwings and David saw a few Turnstones. There were also a lot of gulls that were mostly Black-headed but a closer look through them gave us Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Earlier in the day the odd Great Black-backed Gull had also been seen. On our way back to the cars we stopped to have a look through the viewing screen on the corner of Marshside Road where very appropriately for us our last new bird of our visit to Marshside was a Long Tailed Duck but you had to be quick to see it as it would soon dive again. In fact I think it was under the water much more that it was on the surface.

Short-eared Owl - (c) Martyn Jones
Our visit to Marshside had come to an end but the day wasn’t quite over, we had seen some good wildfowl and five species of birds of prey so we were well pleased with that but we didn’t know what was waiting for us at another site nearer to Liverpool where Short Eared Owls had been seen, as we were reasonably close to the area we were going to have a look.

Short-eared Owl - (c) Martyn Jones
Not long after we arrived in the late afternoon we saw our first Short Eared Owl, with the setting sun now low in the sky and showing off the birds colours perfectly. As we watched we then saw other owls a little further away and eventually we counted at least four different birds flying in different places.

Barn Owl at Dusk - (c) Martyn Jones
As the light began to fade a Barn Owl was seen in another area but it was thought there were two Barn Owls as another bird was seen way over to one side to where the first bird was seen a few times. A Kestrel was hovering not far from us and at dusk we had one more surprise when a ringtail Harrier was flying in at right angles to us. Eventually the bird saw us and turned again to fly away from us and out of sight but as it banked over on its side as it turned we could see all the marking on its wings in the last remaining bit of light.

Barn Owl at Dusk - (c) Martyn Jones
We had been standing still for some time and we were now feeling the cold so as soon as we had seen the Harrier two of our members made their way back to their car. A little later we all caught up with them when they took great delight in telling us they had just disturbed a Little Owl and watched it fly away and out of sight as they got back to the car. I can’t bring myself to say their names but you know who you were! How could Teresa and Eric enjoy seeing a Little Owl so much when they knew all the other members hadn’t seen it? What a way to finish our day as dusk was closing in and all the good light had now gone.

Thanks to David for leading this trip (keep off your skate board Al) and to Martyn for giving Joan and myself a lift.
Jeff Hurst