Bird of the Month - Waxwing

Bohemian WaxwingBombycilla garrulus (the one we usually see)
Japanese WaxwingBombycilla japonica
Cedar WaxwingBombycilla cedrorum

Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage. They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name. The legs are short and strong, and the wings are pointed. The male and female have very similar plumage.

All three species have mainly brown plumage, a black line through the eye and black under the chin, a square-ended tail with a red or yellow tip, and a pointed crest. The bill, eyes, and feet are dark. Calls are high-pitched, buzzing or trilling monosyllables

These are arboreal birds that breed in northern forests. (This for me is a fascinating bit of study)
Their main food is fruit, which they eat from early summer (strawberries, mulberries, and serviceberries) through late summer and autumn (raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and honeysuckle berries) into winter (juniper berries, grapes, crab apples, mountain ash fruits, rose hips, cotoneaster fruits, dogwood berries, and mistletoe berries)
They pluck fruit from a perch or occasionally while hovering.
In spring they replace fruit with sap, buds, and flowers. In the warmer part of the year they catch many insects by gleaning or in mid-air, and often nest near water where flying insects are abundant.

They are not true long-distance migrants, but wander erratically outside the breeding season and move south from their summer range in winter.
In poor berry year’s huge numbers can erupt well beyond their normal range, often in flocks that on occasion number in the thousands
The last time I managed to take pictures of this stunning bird was 1st January 2013 at Howe Bridge crematorium, Atherton. Examples below.

Text references from the internet, Collins Bird Guide, and The Birds of the Western Palearctic published by Oxford.

Poem by Velimir Khlebnikov
Where The Waxwings Used To Dwell
Where the waxwings used to dwell,
Where the pine trees softly swayed,
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew away.
Where the pine trees softly whooshed
Where the warblewings sang out
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew about.
In wild and shadowy disarray
Among the ghosts of bygone days,
Wheeled and tintinnabulated.
A flock of airy momentwills
A flock of airy momentwills!
You're warblewingish and beguilish,
You besot my soul like strumming,
Like a wave invade my heart!
Go on, ringing warblewings,

Long live airy momentwills!

Winter Thrushes

(Turdus pilaris & Turdus iliacus)

Every winter our fields, hedgerows and berry-bearing trees are inundated with ravenous visitors from the north. The invasion of these so-called Winter Thrushes descends on us like a plague beginning usually in mid-October but, dependant on weather conditions in Scandinavia and Russia, it’s sometimes earlier or later than this.

The European population of Fieldfare and Redwing that visit Britain are thought to be around three quarters of a million of each species but we also see other members of this family throughout our winter. Breeding populations of Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Blackbird tend to move southward to warmer climes but a good few hang on.  Our resident Blackbird numbers are bolstered by European migrants escaping the severe winter weather in their own breeding grounds.

The Fieldfare is just a little smaller than a Mistle Thrush and easily identified, the red/brown back is sandwiched between the battleship grey head and rump the contrast is clearly visible. Redwings are similar to Song Thrushes but the obvious buff stripes over the eyes and through the moustache are striking in appearance and the main identification factor when the bird is at rest or feeding. It is not until the bird is in flight that we see from whence came the name, (redwing) then you will notice the red underwing flashing like a red warning light as it rapidly flies away when disturbed.

European populations of Fieldfare and Redwing are thought to be in the region of 15 million breeding pairs for each species. Both species breed in many countries throughout the continent and have also been recorded as a rare breeding bird in Scotland, where a few pairs are successful each year. Throughout Britain’s countryside in winter large flocks of both these alert and wary species can be seen as they systematically strip the trees of their bounty.
David Shallcross
Information from a variety of publications including L.O.S. Newsletters

Update from the British Trust for Ornithology web site.

Graph 1
Figure 1: Tree and hedgerow feeding petered out during early
winter and ground feeding became dominant (see Fig 2).
(Click to enlarge)

Provisional results 2012/13 – a first look

Data collection for the survey's second and final winter is already in full swing. Meanwhile, we already have some tantalising provisional results that show the kind of new science that is hidden in the first winter's data. The two charts to the right are by no means a final conclusion: indeed there is a long way to go to tease out the complexities that are summarised here and work out the conclusions that can reliably be drawn.
A major part of the analysis is likely to centre around the seasonal change from feeding in trees and bushes (Fig 1), which peaked in November, to feeding on the ground later in the winter (seen by comparing the timing of the peaks in Figs 1 & 2). This change was evident in all the thrush species and stems from their use of berries and fruits in hedgerows and trees until those supplies run low, followed by foraging on the ground, mainly for fallen fruit or for soil invertebrates. We are investigating how the timing of this change varies with species and region and your new data will show whether similar patterns will emerge in 2013/14.
Subdivisions of the bars on the histograms suggest rather little proportional change between feeding locations as winter progresses, other than between 'tree feeding' (Fig 1) and 'ground feeding' (Fig 2).
Graph 2
Figure 2: Ground feeding built to a peak in January
and dominated strongly into the spring.
(Click to enlarge)
Observations on foods taken by thrushes during the first winter of WTS also show seasonal changes that may relate to the ripening of fruits and berries and their subsequent depletion. The massive scale of WTS observations will allow us to document the winter feeding behaviour of thrushes in far more detail than ever before. And results of the core surveys, on randomly selected sites, will help us differentiate between observer and thrush location preferences.

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 4th December

81 Degrees North - An Arctic Adventure
David Shallcross
A trip of a lifetime, David goes to Arctic Svalbard to see the amazing polar bears and enormous walrus, plus other specialist species of, birds, animals and flowers that are found there.

Friday 4th December sees L.O.S. Chairman Mr. David Shallcross give a talk about his recent trip to the Arctic region of Svalbard, in a presentation entitled "81 Degrees North - An Arctic Adventure.

David's show contains images of polar bears, walrus, seals, whales, reindeer, foxes and many bird species seen throughout his 16 day adventure of a lifetime.

We will see how the people past and present live, going to the edge of the pack ice just 500 miles from the North Pole, travelling down fjords and getting up close to Glacier fronts.

With hundreds of incredible photographs, this is truly one talk you don't want to miss. But please remember to wear something warm as the temperature is close to freezing, even in the summer!

So if you want to find out where Svalbard actually is, come along and join us in the Derby Room at Leigh Library this Friday (4th December). Doors open at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start and everyone is welcome.

Fire Service incident at Pennington over the weekend

Leigh Ornithological Society (formed 1971)   

Hi all regarding the Fire Service incident at Pennington over the weekend, when rescue boats strayed into the reserve part of the water.

i emailed the station manager highlighting the disturbance caused. He was quick to reply and we have since had a discussion by telephone, to work out a protocol for future training so they don't coincide with either sailing regattas and most importantly monthly WeBS counting.

I will provided a contacts list for them, so hopefully it won't happen again.  Below is the Station Managers explanation (for security reasons i have removed his contact details)

Dear Mr Shallcross,

I have spoken to the crews involved in the training exercise on Pennington flash over the weekend, and they informed me that they had inadvertently strayed into the green marker buoys due to lack of knowledge of what this demarcation meant, upon this a safety vessel from the sailing club raced to the boat crew and informed them that they were in the nature reserve section of the flash, upon hearing these instructions they manoeuvred out of the area, also to my knowledge no crews purposely strayed into any environmentally delicate areas.

I can only apologise at any upset caused, and inform you that our crews would not intentionally cause distress to wildlife as this goes against what Firefighters and our Service represents.

The organiser of the training had tried numerous departments within Wigan Borough Council to ask for permission to use the flash, but he had no luck, if you have such contact details and would be kind enough to share these with me so we can ensure that this does not happen again I would be very appreciative.

The training coincidentally was to further enhance the skill sets of our boat crews for National and International deployments into flood stricken areas to render humanitarian services to people and animals in distress, I can assure you our crews are highly professional and sensitive to environmental issues.

If you are still unhappy with my response please do not hesitate to contact me and we can discuss this further.

Once again my apologies on behalf of Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service.

Kind regards        Station Manager
David Shallcross

The Marsh Tit Locally and Regionally

Marsh Tit (c) RSPB
John Tymon's encounter with a Marsh Tit at Pennington Flash last week has prompted me to try to clarify the status of a species which has had a confusing history in several respects. To begin, it is clearly mis-named, since it has no affinity whatsoever with marshland, and its similarity to our more familiar Willow Tit has caused a degree of uncertainty about earlier records.

It wasn't even regarded as a separate species until the very end of the 19th century, by which time F.S.Mitchell's “The Birds of Lancashire” (1892) had been published and the accounts of both species had been placed together under the heading 'Marsh Tit'; many of these records would have been of Willow Tits and it wasn't until Clifford Oakes's “The Birds of Lancashire” appeared in 1953 that we have our first comprehensive accounts of the status of the two species. In this scholarly masterpiece, which I recommend to anybody with an interest in our regional ornithology, Mr. Oakes presents a description which includes its breeding range and names Silverdale as the place where the breeding population is most concentrated.

Willow Tit (c) RSPB
In his first paragraph, he produces a sentence which reflects our present-day understanding of its mobility outside the breeding season - “It is less inclined to wander during the winter (than the Coal Tit); indeed, its attachment to traditional nesting haunts may be one of the reasons for its failure to colonise otherwise suitable habitats.”

This disposition towards a sedentary existence is supported by an up-to-date reference on Wikipedia which states that UK ringing data indicates that 85% of over a hundred recoveries of ringed birds have been less than three miles from where they were ringed and only 1% more than twelve miles away. 

Clearly, the intriguing question must now be - “Has the bird that John saw last week come from some unknown local site, and, if so, where might that be?” I'll return to this question later : in the meantime, I leave you all with a beautifully enticing extract from Clifford Oakes - “There are few more pleasant sights than a party of 20-30 Marsh Tits, in fresh autumn plumage, feeding in birch or willow scrub at the forest edge on a sunny October day.” Interestingly, Mr. Oakes makes no mention of the Leigh area in his description of the Marsh Tit's breeding distribution, the nearest reference being “It is unknown near Bolton ….. “.

Marsh Tit
(c)  Stephen Burch
As regards local breeding in more up-to-date literature, two records probably refer to the same occurrence (somewhere in the Smithills/Doffcocker area) - “A very scarce resident. Only one pair known to have bred since 1980 (J.H.Cooper and J.C.Wood - “A Check List of the Birds of Bolton” c.1985”) “ and “The confirmed record near Bolton was unexpected” in “Breeding Birds in Greater Manchester (P.Holland, I.Spence and T.Sutton – MOS, 1984).”

Intriguingly, there are mixed messages from a well-watched site in the south of our recording area. In his 1981 publication “Birdwatching at Risley Moss”, Peter Barlow, a meticulous recorder of all he saw, did not include Marsh Tit in his list of species seen over several years, and yet there have been sightings on ten subsequent occasions (until 2013). Elsewhere, the situation a little later was concisely expressed in the Society's Report for 1990 by Chris Darbyshire - “One was identified near Pengy's hide at Pennington on 7th April. There were only seven accepted records of this South Lancashire rarity in our area during the 1980s, all in 1982-83: many claims were rejected due to lack of confirmatory detail and thus possible confusion with Willow Tit.”

Willow Tit at Pennington Flash
(c) Martyn Jones
In more recent years there have been a scattering of records more numerous to list here, but the earlier point about the Marsh Tit's sedentary nature brings me back to the point of local breeding. My available literature is somewhat contradictory, apart from the fact that mature woodland is an essential requirement, and I am inclined to request the help of highly-skilled naturalists, among them Pauline Greenhalgh and others who might be familiar with the Silverdale area or other strongholds, to perhaps give a brief habitat description to see if it fits any of our local sites, Borsdane or Atherton Woods, for example. 

The expert naturalist in our midst has, by way of experience and commitment, the ability to bring together birds and typical habitats in comments such as “This is a likely place for Lesser Whitethroat” or “Just let's see if there's a Jack Snipe here.” Perhaps a good habitat description might encourage some birdwatchers to visit unexplored corners and make an important discovery which might well lead to a site acquiring protective status on behalf of a Red List species such as Marsh Tit.

It might seem to be wishful thinking to connect John's sighting to a search of possible breeding habitats - to an important discovery - to the granting of protective status at a time when there are enormous pressures on all forms of wildlife. If such a sequence of events came to pass, it would be an invaluable and positive contribution towards local conservation at a time when much of the news about our environment is depressingly negative, and it would fulfil the two fundamental aims of our Society:-
  1. to further the study of birds in the field
  2. to assist in their preservation. 
Happy searching and good luck.
Dave Wilson

L.O.S. Members and Friends Evening - Friday 20th November

last shout for this folks need to know by saturday

Our annual Members and Friends Evening will be held at Leigh Rugby Union Club, Hand Lane, Pennington in Leigh. The proceedings will start at 7-30pm, so please arrive well before to get settled and buy a raffle ticket.

Food will be served around 8:30pm and will be traditional 'Pie un Peas' - a vegetarian option is available but must be pre-ordered by letting Tony Bishop know at the email address below.

A quiz will be active throughout the evening and marked near the end and there will be a 20 minute slide show of a recent visit to the Costa Blanca with a short interval of piano-accordion music and songs by Alan Prescott.
All this for a fiver ... yes just £5 !!!

Please let Tony know you are coming as we need to order the food.

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 6th November

Plains, Cranes and Autovia
Birding in Extremadura 
by Mike Roberts
Mike's talk is about the Steppe Region near Trujillo and the Park of Monfrague famed for its raptors. Bird species covered include Great and Little Bustard, Montagus Harrier and Spanish Imperial Eagles.

All L.O.S. presentation talks take place in the Derby Room at Leigh Library, from 7.15pm onwards.

Everybody is welcome so please come and join us.

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 16th October

In Search of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper 
Wildlife of the Russian Far East
By Stephen Culley
In his presentation Stephen talks about a two week trip he made to the Russian Far East in summer 2014. This is a photographic journey showing some of the amazing scenery and wildlife, including bears, sea otters, whales, dolphins, Pacific auk colonies, Siberian Rubythroats and the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper on its breeding grounds.

Come and join us, all are welcome.

Please note that the L.O.S. 
AGM takes place before the presentation begins but this should be no more than about thirty minutes.

29th August 2015 – a rare North American visitor to Pennington Flash

This isn’t about some rare bird species but a visit from Professor Heather Bateman, field ecologist at Arizona State University, Phoenix, USA. Heather was over in Britain for a week attending an ecology conference in Manchester. She had spontaneously contacted Joan Disley, LOS Editor, via the LOS website and asked if it would be possible to meet with some members for a day’s birdwatching. Joan arranged it all from this end; she collected Heather from Leigh Bus Station and brought her along to Pennington Flash shortly before 9.00 a.m. to be joined by Dave Wilson and myself (George Pike).

A leisurely tour of the hides gave us 43 species including a Common Tern, one Common Sandpiper, two Willow Tits and a pair of Blackcaps. There was a very brief glimpse of a Cetti’s Warbler at Tom Edmondson’s hide and fine views of a colourful Kingfisher. Dave’s excellent knowledge of American birds helped Heather compare all these somewhat strange British birds with related species in the States.

Dave left us shortly after midday and then, after lunch, we were joined by Angela Pike to go to Risley Moss. Its reputation as an excellent raptor viewing area is well founded – the first bird we saw was a Hobby chasing dragonflies in a marvellous flying display. A second Hobby appeared and joined in the fun – they are the sort of bird I could watch all day! It was then a short drive back into Leigh and a stroll along the canal where notable birds included a Grey Wagtail, spotted by Heather, and then a female Sparrowhawk chasing feral pigeons. All this activity was carefully watched by one of our local Peregrines, perched high above.

Luckily the weather remained fine throughout the day and it was soon time to drop Heather back at the bus station and say goodbye. A thoroughly relaxed and enjoyable day’s birding in the local area gave us 50 species in total, including five types of raptor. It was a pleasure to meet up with our charming American visitor.
George Pike

New Season of L.O.S. Presentation Talks 2015-16

The new season of  L.O.S. indoor presentation talks kicks off at Leigh Library on Friday 4 September with this talk by Dennis Atherton.

I go to Southern Spain every year to watch what I call a fantastic migration-fest, where you can look for Spanish specialities early morning and then go to Tarifa just before midday and watch Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Buzzard species migrate to Africa.
Details of the full year's programme can be found here:

Everyone is welcome, particularly members of our Facebook group:

Family Fun Day at Amberswood

The L.O.S. will have a stall at the Amberswood Family Fun day on Saturday 11 July from 11am until 4pm.  We'll have some bird-related activities for youngsters and we'll be asking people if they'd be interested in attending an L.O.S. beginners evening session on identifying birds to be held sometime in the future. Please come and sign up if you're at all interested.

The details are all shown on the poster below and it would be great if you'd come and join us and the Friends of Amberswood.


A couple of photos of the L.O.S. stall at Amberswood yesterday:

Jeff and Martyn manning the stall.
Our new collapsible table!

Woolston Eyes closure

In case you are planning an early morning or evening visit to the reserve, please see the following message which has been posted on the Woolston Eyes Conservation Group website:

"During the past week there have been several serious thefts of equipment and damage on No.3 bed. The police are investigating in a bid to identify the culprits. As a consequence WECG has decided to close No.3 bed from 20.00hrs to 08.00 hrs each night for the immediate future. This is being done with a second padlock which your standard key will not fit. We are urgently investigating ways to make both access to No.3 bed, our equipment and facilities more secure and would welcome any expert assistance in this field from experienced permit holders.

The Committee is sorry for any inconvenience that the restricted opening may cause but we are sure you will understand the reasons for it."

L.O.S. at Lilford Park Centenary Celebration Event

On Saturday 6 June Leigh Ornithological Society will be taking part in the Centenary Celebrations at Lilford Park in Leigh.  Lilford Park is an important green-space resource for the community in terms of wildlife and recreation and a lot of work has been done by the Friends of Lilford Park (FOLP) in recent years. There will be many stalls and attractions there as well as a small fair.

The L.O.S. will have a stall there all day manned by L.O.S. Committee members and from which we will giving out information about the Society and the work we do, as well as taking guided tours around Lilford Woods to see if we can find any birds there.

Our Young Birders' Team will be there with something for the younger visitors too including making a 'Bird ID Dial' and several quizzes. We'll also have a couple of Botany specialists with us for finding about about trees and wild flowers in the Woods.

We do hope you will come along from 9am onwards and have a chat with us and perhaps put a few faces to names that you have seen on our website and Facebook pages.  See you there!

For more information visit the Friends of Lilford Park websites here:


A couple of photos from the Lilford Park Centenary Celebrations:

Our new L.O.S. gazebo!
L.O.S. display boards inside the gazebo
George, Tony, Martyn and Jeff, just some of the L.O.S. volunteers ( unfortunately Joan and David were on a later shift!)

L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Visit to St. George's Primary School

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club team had an absolutely fabulous morning today at St. George's Primary School in Tyldesley. The Year 3 class we visited were really keen and interested in our presentation and their behaviour was impeccable - all credit must go to the school and class teacher.

We told the pupils about different types of birds and how they are suited to the habitats in which they live. We also showed them how to make a bird ID dial and the pupils used it to do two quizzes about garden and woodland birds. The pupils were entralled by the videos we showed of a Barn Owl and Kestrel hunting in different ways and the mating dance of the Great Crested Grebes. What a great school, we can't wait to go back.

'Florida, A Winter Wonderland' by Dennis Atherton

Our next presentation in the Derby Room at Leigh Library is 'Florida, A Winter Wonderland' by long-serving L.O.S. member Dennis Atherton.

Come and see Dennis' superb photos from his travels in the U.S. of A. and why not bring a friend? Everyone is welcome and the doors open at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start on Friday 6th March.

And who knows, you might even win a prize in our raffle!

'A Shot at Wildlife Images 2012' by Pauline and Ian Greenhalgh

Our Derby Room meeting last night attracted 60 people, the visiting speakers Pauline and Ian Greenhalgh gave their account of the year 2012 as seen through the eye and lens of photographers. Having seen their work on other occasions we had high expectations of the event, and indeed it proved to be a real treat.

Photography and presentation of this high standard are a gift to only a few, Pauline and Ian's knowledge of wildlife is second to none. I have been privileged to be out in the field with them and see what time and effort is put into obtaining the images - it is truly amazing.

Something that impressed me from day one is that they always put the subjects welfare first before taking those images. Thank you to P & I for a superb evening's entertainment and shared knowledge and thanks also to the members and friends who gave their support.

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Martin Mere WWT and Lunt Meadows – 7th December 2014

This wasn’t the wettest trip we have had and it wasn’t the coldest or the most windy but it was certainly trying it’s best to be because all day we had frequent showers, quite often with hail plus an icy wind. The wind was blowing the rain and hail sideways, luckily we were often in a hide when it was at its hardest but we had to leave the viewing slot windows closed as the wind was blowing the rain into the hides and wetting the seats.

Just outside the visitors' centre was a large pool of water which had on it a good selection of our beautiful wildfowl, although I think these were some of the captive birds it did give us the chance to appreciate just how beautiful they are close up. You could clearly see the pale green patches on the back of the heads of some male Eiders and compare these with the duller females; there were Goldeneye, Pintail, Wigeon and a few Bewick and Whooper Swans. At odd times, they would swim together so we could compare the size of the slightly smaller Bewick and the smaller patch of yellow on its black beak.

A little further away is the larger area of water known as “The Mere” where you get more of the wild birds and here we saw a number of Whooper Swans, groups of Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese, a lot of Shelduck plus Pochard, Pintail and Wigeon. A good number of Lapwings were seen but most of the other waders were more of a telescope job to see, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and the fify Ruff that Pekka counted. Also through his scope he spotted Stonechat and earlier another bird watcher let some of us have a look through his scope at a Buzzard perched on a fence stump.

Not long after a Kestrel was seen hovering in the distance, a Great Black-backed Gull was on a small island and we spotted three Herons just standing in the reeds on some smaller patches of water over to one side. Looking out from a different side of the hide we saw Magpies on a few occasions coming down to feed on a dead rabbit in the grass.

As we walked round to the different hides various smaller birds were seen such as Redwing, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting and everyone’s Christmas favourite, the Robin.

It was time to move onto our second place of call over at Lunt Meadows, where in contrast to last year, we didn’t see anything unusual. On the areas of water we saw two Little Egrets and with the Black-headed Gulls were a few Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Coot and a Cormorant was seen and as we were standing watching we had Linnet, Robin, Wren and a Sparrowhawk flew past.

Even in the middle of all this bad weather I still found some White Dead Nettle in flower in contrast to the bright red Rose-hips on some Wild Rose bushes. We walked on a little further and as we stood on a bridge over a river looking out over some fields once again the scopes came in handy to check a large group of birds on the ground. These were mostly Rooks plus some Crows and Jackdaws with a group of Starlings near them.

After this, we decided to call it a day and head for home where we could all thaw out. Thanks to Al for the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.
Jeff Hurst

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Leighton Moss RSPB and Sizergh Castle – 9th November 2014

Some of our members started their bird watching at Sizergh Castle in the hope of seeing Hawfinch and were again successful, although I believe only a distant view up in some trees.

Leighton Moss RSPB (c) Alan Wilcox 2014
The other members went directly to Leighton Moss but a few decided to travel up there while it was still dark so they could be there for first light to try to see the Otters. One member arrived before we did and as he parked his car he saw a Barn Owl fly away. A little later, when we were parking up I heard some Redwings calling as they flew over and as we were walking a few Curlews flew past.

Our patience was finally rewarded by the sight of three otters although again only a distant view but we could make out two of them, possibly young ones play fighting and as they tumbled round in the water. Occasionally we could see their tails flip up into the air.

While we were waiting for the others to arrive we had time to look at the birds that were there. A male Pheasant walked past in front of us, a Grey Heron was feeding, a few Snipe were nearby and a Water Rail briefly came out from the reeds a few times. In the distance on the far side of the water we could just make out a Peregrine Falcon perched in the bare branches of a tree, and out on the water there were Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, a female Goldeneye, a pair of Mute Swans with six large young that were now as big as their parents and a group of Greylag Geese flew in.

We were told the Bearded Tits had been seen on the grit trays, so our next stop was the public causeway where some of our members were lucky and saw some but although we stopped there for quite a while none showed up while we were there so we eventually walked onto the public hide where the birds were much as had already been seen, except for a Marsh Harrier that flew past and away in the distance.

Not long after we thought it was coming back again as we saw this large birds in the distance over the reeds and flying towards the hide but suddenly the bird turned to one side and we could see it was Bittern now showing up well with the sun shining on it. Flying over the water for a short distance then over the reed beds again where it dropped into and out of sight. While on the causeway some of our members also heard a Cetti’s Warbler.

As we walked between the various hides, I noticed that odd plants still had a few flowers on them. I saw Ragwort, Knapweed, Herb Robert and some of the Blackberry still had some blossom. It was interesting to see some of the old gnarled trees covered in various Lichens, Moss and Polypody ferns growing on them. Joan also identified one fungus we saw as Verdigris Roundhead.

From another hide we had another good view of a female Marsh Harrier, a Kingfisher was perched in a tree for a few minutes and a Buzzard flew over. It was also from this hide that we saw two Red Deer feeding along the edge of the reeds. While walking back from this hide we saw a single Oystercatcher flying over and later saw a Goldcrest and a Marsh Tit from quite close.

Throughout the day various members had seen Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Reed Bunting among other more common birds. As we thought there would be difficulty parking near the hides on the coast, we came straight home but some members were lucky to get in and rounded off their day by having good views of both Little Egret and Great White Egret.

Great White Egret (c) Alan Wilcox 2014
We had seen some really good birds and some members even saw the three otters later in the morning from the public hide. We had been out much earlier to have distant views of them, but it was worth it to be out early and then see the sun just showing through and giving a golden glow to the reed beds that only a minute earlier had been dull and in shadow.

I still have not had a good view of an otter, I could make out some details but I suppose this gives me a good reason for trying again sometime.

Thanks to Al for organising this trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift home.
Jeff Hurst

Happy New Year to You All

As the new year begins we resume our indoor meetings on Friday January 16th at 7:30pm in the Derby Room at Leigh Library.  Everyone is welcome.

For our guest sepaker we welcome back Mr Gordon Yates, with his presentation entitled: 
 "Snowy Owl, King of the Arctic"

This landscape is of Svalbard, just one of the places to which Gordon takes us.