L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Ainsdale Beach and Lunt Meadows - Saturday 8th December 2018

KEEP YOUR EYES TO THE SKIES AND PRAY

For our fourth trip of the L.O.S. season we met at Doctors Nook at 8.00am on a wet miserable morning. Fingers crossed, we headed off to Ainsdale hoping the window of dry weather promised to us was going to enable us to get some birding in.


On arrival at Ainsdale Discovery Centre at 9.00am we teamed up with three members that had travelled direct this made six in total, with the promise of 3 others to join us at around 11.00am. We had a short discussion about the weather. We quickly agreed that we had only about 3/4 hours and that Lunt Meadows would probably be a bad idea as the afternoon forecast was one of persistent heavy rain. Not good conditions for any Short-eared Owls or other birds for that matter. Also no shelter to escape any downpours and just the prospect of a good dousing.


So after deciding to abandon Lunt we headed out. Firstly to Ainsdale and Birkdale Sandhills Lake. (try saying that after a few drinks) This would give us some shelter from the strong westerly wind and we thought worth a mooch.


The lake produced a stunning male Goosander along with a host of Mallard and Tufted Duck and also Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and a few more of our more common birds. Then onwards to Ainsdale Beach via the sand dunes. On reaching the beach the tide was being pushed along by the strong westerly wind. High tide was only 90 minutes or so away, so a good time to arrive.
 

Along the tide line some 100 yards in front of us we spotted our first Sanderling. To the naked eye they looked like little balls of polystyrene being pushed onto the beach by breaking waves. Then every birdwatchers nightmare, kite surfers setting up, dog walkers along the tide line coming in our direction and two women walking ten dogs between them.

They forced the hundred or so Sanderling into flight and off northwards into the distance. Then they released all ten dogs right in front of us. Time to redirect our plans.

We decided to head towards the sand dunes away from the tide and walk north bound up the beach and beyond the ten frolicking dogs.


Walking north bound hugging the dunes, we saw a small flock of Linnet some fifteen or so in number. But in the distance along the ever rising tide were birds, a lot of birds. Being battered by the strong wind we continued northwards hoping for good views.  We decided to cut into the dunes and use them as a screen between us and what we could now see very clearly where thousands of waders mixed with Gulls and Cormorants. We were now some two miles further up the beach.


After another few hundred yards done with military precision, we literally crawled and scurried like commandos to the top of a small dune by the beach armed with cameras and binoculars for what proved to be a sight worth beholding.


Thousands of Oystercatchers stood like statues some thirty or so yards in front of us. Similar numbers of Dunlin and Sanderling constantly being disturbed by the still incoming tide. Flocks of some sixty plus Knot made short sorties along the tideline. We were in bird heaven, no dog walkers and all the kite surfers had exhausted themselves and long since given up. 
 

Looking further up the beach northwards in the distance were thousands of waders rising briefly from the tideline into the air like plumes of smoke. Tempting as it was to investigate the rain was closing in fast over the sea in front of us, a looming darkness, not something to get caught in. 
 

With the heavy rain almost upon us we made the return journey within the shelter of the dunes. A solitary Kestrel hunting, the odd Meadow Pipit rose from the tussocks of grass. Jeff Hurst helped us identify some of the plant life along the way.


Eventually we reached the vehicles and spent ten minutes chatting about our day, with a sandwich, and a welcome brew from our flasks. With Lunt abandoned and only 24 species under our belts we wound our merry way home. All the cobwebs blown from between our ears, dry and exercised, and ready for the next adventure. Considering the conditions, a great day, in great company. Although we were a little thin on the ground.
Hope to see you all in the New Year. Have a very Merry Christmas.
Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieltrips Officer

The Annual L.O.S. Shindig at Leigh Rugby Union Club

Members and friends of the Society enjoyed the annual get together at Leigh Rugby Union Club last night, in particular, the wonderful slide presentation by Martyn Jones.

Martyn’s show title was “Adventures in a Birdmobile” he described the idea as a way to get close to birds using the vehicle as both accommodation and a hide, the show incorporated several key birding sites around England and including Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.

Martyn is a first-rate photographer and put together an educational, informative and sometimes amusing evening’s entertainment, well produced and enhanced with birdsong and musical themes.

My thanks, to all who were involved in the evening, quiz suppliers, raffle organisers, prize givers and of course the audience, a special thank you to our presenters Fairy Nuff and 'Elf & Safety' (Anne Johnson, Brian Fawcett and Tony Bishop) not forgetting the caterer Amanda’s Pantry for providing delicious hot food.

The evening concluded with a monologue from Monica King “Joyce the Librarian” and a singalong of Christmas songs led by Eddie King.

On a sad note, Tony has informed us that after Brexit the elves and fairies who reside of course in the E.U. will not be allowed to perform on this side of the water, so next year’s visit is on hold.

A Merry Christmas and a prosperous Brexit, thanks to all for your valued support, David.

'I'm Going to Tell a Little Tale' by Dave Wilson

I'm going to tell a little tale. It's not about rare events or rare birds or spectacular happenings. It will be an attempt to remind everybody of what natural treasures we are able to find wherever we go and what we may lose if we cease to appreciate and protect them in an ever-uncertain world. I begin across the Channel in Normandy and finish with thoughts from home and the uncertainties for our future.

Not far from my eldest daughter Helen's family home stands one of Europe's most impressive coastal attractions - the ancient island abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. Between two and three million visitors a year attest to its appeal - to the genuinely devout; to painters and photographers; and to many who are taken there as willing, or unwilling, members of coach tours.

Commercialism there is rampant, and, whenever possible, I prefer to spend my time by a huge marshland, Le Marais de Sougeal, upstream from the tourist gatherings along the dawdling Couesnon River which, from where I choose to wander, resembles a great flood plain rather than the true marshy habitats which are more plentiful further south.

I have never met another soul on my mooches there, and so it was again on a fine early October morning when I made my most recent visit.

As usual, before reaching the spacious greenery where horses and cattle mingle, and glancing at the familiar towering poplars which play host to large clumps of mistletoe, I begin to think back to previous visits and some of the surprising encounters which have come my way - Cattle Egrets sticking close to grazing calves and mothers; frogs in crystal-clear ditches; Spotted Flycatchers with newly-fledged young; gorgeous Beautiful Demoiselles at rest; a delightful selection of motionless butterflies, among them Painted Lady and Marbled White; and an unconcerned Muskrat, seemingly seeking a morsel from the track I was following.

Sadly, when I reached my first vantage point, the misty marsh appeared devoid of life with no signs whatsover of even the regular largest inhabitants - Mute Swan, Cormorant and Grey Heron. And then I remembered that, in this region, Thursday is the day when "hunters" roam about, practising their pot-shotting and my doubts were confirmed when loud cracks sounded from the other side of the marsh - and the ricocheting calls of hidden, startled Jackdaws disturbed the silence.

Thereafter, I concentrated on the tinier wonders at my feet and by my side - crane flies everywhere; occasional resting spiders near empty webs; late summer's sparse floral show and eye-catching autumn tints among the brambles; resting Small Coppers, Speckled Woods and a solitary Comma among leaves of changing colour; a Common Darter on the path; a hidden creature moving about near a cluster of fallen sweet chestnut fruits and shells and, as I left this place of refreshing solitude, a couple of Goldfiches tinkled by, rested briefly, and then flew together towards a clump of inviting thistles.

Chestnut shells and Goldfinches came to mind again a couple of weeks ago as I stood with others at the cenotaph in Atherton on Remembrance Sunday. By eleven o'clock the sounds of marching feet, brass band music and voices giving whispered greetings had ended for just two minutes - as silent now as when I rested by the marsh a month ago. And then, before the reveille was played and the flags raised, gentle Goldfinch music was heard from far away and a Grey Wagtail made a rapid flypast.

Whatever thoughts the assembled folk were having as they stood in respectful silence, some would perhaps have tried to imagine the horrors of past wars with battlefields of carnage, ruined lives, discarded weapons and shell cases.

Thankfully, even at this time of political turmoil, there are too many good and caring people around to ensure that the only discarded shells in future will be Mother Nature's - on the Normandy beaches and other friendly shores; by the secret anvil of Song Thrushes here and there; and beneath bountiful chestnut trees everywhere!

Dave Wilson

A Trip with Twite a Good Ending

Saturday 24th November

After the 8.00am meet at Doctors Nook, we caught up with the rest of the group at Conder Green Picnic Area at approximately 9.00am. The trip members began with a flurry of sightings, clocking up 35 or so species in the first hour, including Redshank, Meadow Pipit, Greenshank, Goosander and a pair of Common Sandpiper, just to name a few. A great start to our day's birding.


Then we moved across Conder Bridge to the pools just beyond. Here we added Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and a solitary Pink-footed Goose, along with some Redwing and Fieldfare in nearby Hawthorn bushes. After this brief stop off we headed off through Glasson Dock and on to Bodie Hill


On reaching Bodie Hill viewing point, high tide was due. Here we were greeted by the magnificent view looking towards Sunderland Point across the Lune Estuary. The salt marsh was buzzing with birdlife. Hundreds of Lapwing and Golden Plover with huge flocks of Linnet, many Starling, Shelduck. Also picked up in the scopes, a resting Peregrine Falcon.


Two Brown Hares appeared in the field below. The highlight for me were the Golden Plover in many numbers twinkling against the green backdrop, illuminated by the low winter sun that made a brief appearance. High tide came and went and the party meandered its way towards Pilling Amenity Area. On the way we saw Whooper and Mute Swan grazing in the unused fields. 


On reaching Pilling Amenity Area, we were greeted by a good number of Pink-footed Geese. We parked up adjacent to the shoreline. Curlew, Little Egret, and Linnet were observed with good numbers of Redshank once again. The real highlights of the hour we spent at this spot was a leucistic Linnet which caused some discussion on whether or not it was a Snow Bunting, but alas the over all verdict was Linnet


Then the spot of the day a Ringtail Hen Harrier putting up a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits whilst scouring the now receding shoreline for prey. Credit to Alan Wilcox for picking this wonderful bird out. 


Getting a little cold it was decided to head for Knott End our last port of call. On reaching Knott End the group headed to the ferry slipway hoping see the Twite, which are regular visitor to this spot. Good close up views of fighting Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Redshank and Oystercatcher and a distant male Eider spotted moving out with the quickly receding tide. 


Some headed for the cafĂ© and a welcome warm and hot drink whilst others bravely scoured the promenade in search of the elusive Twite, after all they would be a fitting end to our trip. 

A Kestrel kept several in the group entertained whilst hunting over the salt marsh.  Eventually it landed on the rocks without any prey, but on the next glance it had caught a mouse.  Either it had done this without us noticing or it had stashed ether prey there from a previous kill.
After a short break and the happy wanderers returning, the remaining members of the group regathered at the top of the slipway. A Pied Wagtail entertained us on the statue of L.S. Lowry as we waited. It was rather narcissistic as it seemed to like its own reflection in the shiny surface. I don't remember him painting matchstick birds, just matchsticks cats and dogs!


Then after a brief wait the Twite appeared, gathering around a mooring ring on the slipway for a drink of fresh water contained in the little depression where the ring was fixed. The flock of Twite came and went a few times. Lovely to see. 


With light fading and the ever receding tide taking the birds further from view, we as a group slowly dispersed and headed home, having had a great day in excellent company as usual. 51 species were recorded in total - a great day's birding. 


Thanks to all who attended and hope to see you all very soon on the next adventure.

Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to mid-Lancashire - Saturday 24th November 2018

For our third trip of the L.O.S. season we are visiting a number of sites in part of Lancashire which include Conder Green, Glasson Dock, Pilling and Knott End. We are meeting at Doctors Nook car park (on the other side of the main road from Leigh Library) at 8.00am prompt.


Car sharing is a must on this trip as some of the stopping points only have enough parking for around eight to ten cars. This trip involves little or no walking, and is very suitable for people with reduced mobility. We will basically park up, get out of the car and birdwatch, although there will be opportunities to walk a little further if required.

On leaving Leigh we will head to Conder Green picnic area (LA2 0AN) and the journey takes approximately 1 hour. Anyone who wishes to go directly there should be at this point at 9am but please let me know). We will birdwatch from Conder Green for about an hour. Then I will give directions to the next stopping points and things to look out for. 

There is an expected high tide at 11.30am and this will hopefully push the birds towards us. Our final destination will be Knott End at about 3pm. 

A recent revisit produced 46 species so the prospects of reaching 50 species are very good. A scope will be very helpful on this trip but by no means essential.

Leigh Ornithological Society Hit the Beach Running for their Hilbre Jaunt

Saturday 27/10/18 1000-1645 hours -  Bright and Sunny with a Northerly Blow

Society safely shepherded shore-shore solely scintillatingly steadfastly by our surefooted shore-man ‘Young Kenny’, our lone Hilbre guide for the day who happily welcomed Team LOS to his spiritual home…this gemlike plot of tranquillity and episodic isolation to which Kenny often safely and skilfully negotiates those of us landlubbers such as on this particular visit who admittedly are governed by the inland tides offered by such as Pennington Flash and the Ship Canal!


The launch time of our first footfalls was set at 10am sharp but the responsibility of ensuring that wet feet were avoided as ever weighed heavily on Kenny’s shoulders, especially as his right hand men were unable to turn out today and as much as his Mancunian H&S obsessed sidekick for the day made his role slightly easier, the full responsibility hovering about Kenny’s head put him into Shepherd mode....and within a few minutes the comfy corral in Morrison’s breakfast bar was emptied and all were inducted into the ways of safely negotiating our route to splendid isolation....

The weatherman had done his best to paint the day with a virulent colour of fearful conditions but in reality the northern blow that accompanied this crossing carried with it blue skies dominated by the sun....step by step over admittedly a ruffled carpet of sand (caused by as Kenny explained ‘wind over sea condition’) we absorbed energising life....arrived at and crossed over Middle Eye with ease and with careful steps moved over the rocky way that led us to our temporary Desert Island home.

Observatory reached, most of the Team settled to elevenses whilst others set up their cameras ready to capture the images that a lively sea whipped up by the persistent northerly blow...a truly refreshing sprite that didn’t bite too deep to lessen our love of this late October visit to this often unpredictable isle which may not deliver birds in a big species spread but impresses with its bank of natural history that always gives impressive memories.

A wander over to the slipway at the northernmost tip of the isle was populated with images of a roaring seascape, elusive Grey Seals which played hide and seek in their wave rich habitat and Common Scoter which bobbed about on energetic white horses.

A vigil at the slipway which with ease refreshed the Team, as if all had committed to a week at an expensive Spa, gave few additions to the day list but all were made abundantly aware that the health of the surrounding sea as a larder was more than capable to feed a swarm of Cormorants and satisfy the ever present marauders of the sea, Great Black Backed Gulls.

A return through the private sections of the isle added a lone but vital mammal addition to our wildlife list and I’m sure that the Short Tailed Vole was happy to put a smile on the faces of our gathering before it retreated into the undergrowth.

Lunch, chat and lounging about in the relative comfort of the obs occupied the next hour. Kenny then put on his Hilbre Isle Historian/BTO bird ringer/Comedian hats after which, as with all street performers. passed round the Obs hat round. He must have been good for this was generously filled to the brim.


Then, as all drifted about the Isle there was the additional bonus for Kenny and myself, as the son of the original owners (they generously donated the building to the obs group decades ago) paid us a visit...memory lane was then walked for many a mile before we bid Nick a fond farewell.


Middle Eye held its usual massed choir of Oystercatchers with some legroom left for Herring Gulls and possibly another species or two which could have been noted if effort had been made to look beyond the spectacle of so many assembled ‘Pied Clad Redbills’...

Wandering over and about our isle ...yes the tide was still holding us happily captive...took place for a further hour or so with some of the Team finding small gatherings of Turnstone and Ringed Plover whilst others simply allowed the isle to hold us in its welcoming arms before the waves parted and invited us to leave.



Then as the odd Little Egret swept by no doubt carrying a sign to Kenny that the dry was coming the bird log was called after which belongings were gathered and off we trooped over to west Kirby...

Breezy chatty footfalls then took all back to our start point within the hour and after a fond farewell to the Hilbre Team of One and his temporary Right Hand Man...All left with Hilbre isle smiles…it always does that to you!

Dave Steel

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Hilbre Island, Wirral - Saturday 27 October

Our next L.O.S. Fieldtrip is on Saturday 27 October to Hilbre Island on the Wirral. We will be meeting on Doctors Nook car park at 7.45am opposite Leigh Library. Please note that this is a Saturday trip and that parking is currently free for anyone wanting to leave their car in Leigh and car share.

For those going directly there could you please let Paul Pennington our Fieldtrips Officer know, as we will be meeting at the Wirral Sailing Centre building at the north end of West Kirby Marine Lake, opposite Morrisons on the junction of Dee Lane and South Parade (postcode CH48 0QG) at 10am prompt. Leave your car anywhere on South Parade which runs alongside West Kirby Marine Lake where parking is free.

At 10am we will be guided across the estuary by one of the birders who run the bird observatory there, Kenny McNiffe. Ken will give us some of the Island's history and show us round. It is important that we all take a packed lunch and wear suitable waterproof clothing in case of poor weather. It would be a good idea to wear wellingtons if you have them as we may need to walk through some shallow water enroute and especially coming back.

It takes roughly one hour to reach the Island from West Kirby Marine Lake, so it's a bit of a walk. On reaching the Island Ken will take us to the Bird Observatories Council (B.O.C.) building which is the base for bird recording and ringing on Hilbre. There he will give us a short briefing before the tide comes in and then we will be marooned on the Island until it goes out again.

High tide is at approximately 1.15pm and it will be just after 4pm before we can return to the mainland. There was some talk of a vehicle to take our equipment over to the Island, but chatting to Ken this cannot be guaranteed, so please be aware that if you are taking cameras, scopes, tripods etc that you may need to carry them all the way there and back.

Useful Websites:
Birds of note which could be seen include Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Brent Geese, huge flocks of various waders, and Atlantic Grey Seals at close quarters. There have been recent sightings of a Yellow-Browed Warbler and if we are lucky we may get to see a bird or two ringed in the B.O.C. building.

This is a bit of an adventure, and one not to be missed if you haven't visited the Island before.

Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer
leighos.trips@gmail.com

The Manchester Raptor Group – its History and Work

The group began life as the Mosslands Barn Owl Conservation Group, founded in the mid 1990s when it was clear that Barn Owl numbers were at an all-time low in Greater Manchester. Not much was known then about distribution, other than a few well-established sites where pulli had been ringed by the Leigh Ringing Group, which had put 96 boxes up in the 1970s or before (per former L.O.S. Conservation Officer, Roy Rhodes).

Boxes were made by Dennis Price and members of the Leigh Ornithological Society and Wigan RSPB. The only surviving documentation I have from the 90s mentions Jeff Hurst, Ian Bithell, Jim Disley, Eddie King, Alan Whittle, and Peter Johnson (from Radcliffe), as contributing boxes. There may well have been more. By 1999, 20 new boxes had been installed, mostly on the mosslands, and these complemented about 20 still existing from the Leigh Ringing Group.

Over the years since, some of these older boxes have been replaced and others have been relocated, either due to non-use or development. Some were lost where barns fell down, or were redeveloped unknown to us.

In 2006, the first nest trays for Peregrines were installed on buildings in Manchester City Centre, and as I was involved in this initiative, as County Recorder, and also because Barn Owl box installation was moving out of the Chat Moss area into the rest of Greater Manchester, it seemed sensible to re-name the Mosslands Barn Owl Conservation Group as Manchester Raptor Group to reflect this wider sphere of interest, and this took effect from 1st January 2011. This also enabled us to bring other local raptor studies under the aegis of the group. Important studies of Long-eared Owl, Kestrel, Little Owl and Tawny Owl were ongoing elsewhere in the county and I was aware of these through my work as County Recorder 1992-2011. Since 1999, Peter and Norma Johnson have monitored 690 Tawny Owl chicks, 487 Kestrel chicks and 75 Little Owl chicks fledging from their boxes in the Bury and Bolton areas, whilst Bob Kenworthy monitors a population of Long-eared Owls in the east of the county.

It was also decided to affiliate to the Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) and our breeding results are published in its Annual Review in November each year at the always-oversubscribed conference. Older copies of this can be seen on the website www.raptorforum.co.uk

I was able to devote much more time to Manchester Raptor Group when I ceased to be County Recorder in June 2011. In 2016, a group of Barn Owl enthusiasts in the south Manchester area, led by Jamie Dunning and Chris Sutton, formed a sub-group of the Manchester Raptor Group and tackled areas in the county that we had been unable to visit, through lack of time and manpower. These included Carrington Moss, Dunham and the Mersey Valley. They have erected many Barn Owl boxes in those areas and have also provided boxes for Kestrels, Tawny and Little Owls. Similarly, in the Bury, north Bolton, Rossendale and Rochdale areas Rob Archer, helped by Craig Bell and Brian Kirkwood, have built and put up many boxes and established a breeding population of Barn Owls at altitudes which had previously been dismissed as unsuitable for them.

Following the success of the Peregrine nest trays in Manchester, which itself brought a number of enthusiasts into the group, trays were erected at Rochdale and Bolton Town Halls and Oldham Civic Centre. Pairs were discovered on mills, and in quarries, where they have had mixed success. The fledging rate at safe urban sites is high, and has been echoed throughout the country, providing a reservoir of non-territorial birds which can quickly move into areas where birds are shot. Indeed, the appearance of immature birds at a nest site in the breeding season is usually an indication of persecution.

The Manchester Raptor Group therefore specialises in Barn Owls and Peregrines throughout Greater Manchester and extends, since 2016, into those 10km squares in which the county boundary falls. Currently we have erected 114 Barn Owl boxes and monitor 31 others provided by landowners or other bodies; 5 quarries, and 6 buildings which are disused, dangerous or in ruins which host Barn Owls. However, the west of the county still holds the majority of the sites, with 90 falling into the Leigh Ornithological Society's recording area. 2017 saw a record number of 120 Barn Owl chicks fledging, and in the same year we monitored 14 Peregrine sites which fledged 26 young. Most of our Barn Owl and Peregrine chicks are ringed – we have two ringers and hope that another can join us in 2019.
Judith Smith

All photographs taken in the L.O.S. Recording Area by Martyn Jones (c) 2016-17

We are the Custodians of our Environment

Here is a short excerpt from the video of Dave Wilson's presentation about the history of the L.O.S. and its involvement with Pennington Flash.
We, as individuals and as society, are the custodians of our environment.
It’s my firm and unconditional believe that we should all strive to ensure that those who come after us will be able to inherit at least what we inherited and have the opportunity to enjoy their surroundings and the creatures that they attract.
We can’t keep passing the buck onto somebody else, certainly not councils or other professional bodies. Already this Society, the L.O.S., is heavily involved in positive ventures, visits, active conservation work, involvement with schools, and so on.
If, at any time in the future we don’t have the answers to a simple child’s question, “Where have all the butterflies gone?” or “Where did the Skylarks used to sing?” then we will have failed in our work.
We have to triumph for the sake of ourselves, those who come after us and certainly those who came before us.

Busway Poppy Memorial

https://www.leighobserver.co.uk/news/tribute-at-busway-in-leigh-is-blooming-beautiful-1-9317104

L.O.S. Move Westward to Little Woolden Moss

Date: Saturday 9 September 2018
Time: 0800-1315 hours
Weather: Rain - Grey Skies - Rain Grey Skies followed by a drop of Dry - Grey Skies!

Was this a day to invite regret at perhaps too much hoping for things that, once they appear, cause us to hear that refrain..."be careful what you wish for"... Let me explain ...


The schedule of life said that this was the day on which that enthusiastic team of birdwatching stoics from L.O.S. had requested a wander about Chat and Little Woolden Moss (LWM) having recovered from their wander over Barton Moss last winter thus up I rose to that which I have craved for this summer of relentless baking sunshine .... Rain..glorious rain...err but thought I, not today please! Well didn’t you so wish for such weather, said the contrary sky.

OK it’s true I craved rain because I have watched the ‘wader life force’ that has sat out on LWM become a desiccated sweep of uninviting barren peat which should at this time of year be giving life sustaining rest recuperation and rewarding snippets of refuelling food to migrating waders but with the ironies of ironies here was my beloved rain not yet capable of creating pools of delight for wildlife but otherwise ensuring that it could but only create a damp squid of a day out on these ‘my’ sweet Mosslands whilst not bringing in birds to delight in seeing by our visitors...such is the way of all things ... it will be overcome for whomsoever meets me on the moss cannot help but find a gleaning gem of landscape which is so underrated by those who wear life limiting blinkers.

Windscreen wipers on full alert, off I trundled to Moss Farm Fisheries where right on cue I found nine ‘let me at it’ members of L.O.S. disdainfully regarding the glowering skies and ready to hit the glistening trail of rain-clad tracks. A Kestrel started off the day list... we were up and at it...

Field number two held a flock of Black Headed Gull, a few Woodpigeon and not the Swallow it has hosted this summer for they had moved on ... and so did we, heading north up Cutnook Lane.

Croxden Peatworks with its tenacious pools which have fought off the previously referred to dehydrating sun hosted a Green Sandpiper which gave a nod to autumnal wader movement and a positive spring to our collective stride. Onward we pushed soon heading in a westerly direction.

Rain kept at bay allowing our faithful day list recorder to almost end up with writer’s cramp as we encountered the double delight of more pooled areas coupled with a ‘lovely sweet smelling’ (oh the irony) pile of night soil. This pairing combining to host a flush of birds which were soon lifted into the air as a female Sparrowhawk swept in without an invitation to the insect picnic.

Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch took to the sky which had but a few seconds before had been occupied by departing Swallow which barely ruffled the air in their haste to get out of town as they saw but South Africa as their yearned for winter home... offended that they choose not to stay with me on our Moss? I am not, for I do realise that the rain I have so wished for will then lead to insect depleting weather... our list had grown.

A slight retracing of steps as no one it seemed wished to trudge through the four foot deep pile of treated sewerage (did I tell you about my encounters with a cloying mass of such that I once waded through at Tyldesley Sewerage Farm back in the sixties to check out a small Black Headed Gull Nesting Colony?) brought us back over to Twelve Yards Road, but not before we had noted a couple of obliging Linnet which were perched out on some power lines.


The rain then set its flowmeter to ‘high’ therefore on our arrival on LWM we decided to take refuge in the poly tunnel which is now seemingly in its last days of existence as it has been blessed with yet another batch of those who see only negative destruction as their salvation. What always bemuses me with such types is their so predictable pattern of behaviour:
  1. Find somewhere where positivity exits 
  2. Take advantage and shelter of this site 
  3. Get bored and start to damage it 
  4. Revel in the fact that those who care for the site try to repair the damage 
  5. Redouble the vandalism first started..
  6. Finally destroy the whole edifice...
  7. Err, ‘we’, the vandals now have nowhere to hang out.
WHAT! ... say I ....

The rain abated, we headed further west, the erstwhile pooled area had not captured this morning’s rain (as we had) and few birds were noted as we moved about the site, but orientation lessons were taken on board for future visits by members of the team. Success on a birdwatching day out comes in many forms!

Then after adding a lone Whitethroat and a few heard but not seen House Martin, we decided that a genteel chatty retreat back east which offered a welcoming ‘hug’ from the comfort zone of the Fisheries Cafe and but half an hour later ambrosial food and cuppas were served up in warm welcoming surroundings The day had been won - one nil for Team L.O.S. - whilst Team Weather took its defeat in style, for as we left for home it cried buckets of crocodile rain-shaped tears.

Dave Steel


L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Little Woolden Moss - Saturday 8th September 2018


The new 2018-19 L.O.S. fieldtrip season kicks off with a visit to Little Woolden Moss on Saturday 8th September 2018. Once again we have Dave Steel, an authority on the mosslands, as our guide.

We are meeting at Doctors Nook Car Park (opposite Leigh Library) at 7.15am prompt and we are aiming to arrive at Moss Farm Fisheries for 8am.

Anyone wishing to go straight to Moss Farm Fisheries can find directions using the post code M44 5NB. The guided trip starts at 8am prompt.

I would ask if anyone going directly there could leave a comment below saying so. Any further enquires please contact me at leighos.trips@gmail.com.

I look forward to meeting you all on the day.

Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

The 2018-19 L.O.S Season Kick Off

The Leigh Ornithological Society 2018-19 season kicks off next month starting with our Annual General Meeting on Friday 14 September followed by the second part of Dave Wilson's talk on the history and future of the L.O.S.  As usual this will be in our 'spiritual home' of the Derby Room at Leigh Library, meeting at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start.

The new programme of Friday night presentation meetings and fieldtrips are now available in the links below and by clicking the appropriate tab across the top of this page.
Everyone is welcome to come and meet us at any any of these talks and fieldtrips - we're a friendly bunch and we're always looking forward to new members joining us.

Pennington Flash Volunteers

Major progress has been made today on the children's dipping pond, we have opened it up to get more light into the pond, but of course leaving some shaded areas. Several species of Damsel and Dragonflies were skimming over the water and landing on the vegetation. We now need some funding to renew and make safe to platform.

Thank you, volunteers and Geoff Fletcher for assistance.


It's the End of the 2017-18 L.O.S. Season

Well, the L.O.S. presentation and fieldtrip season is over for another year and we now look forward to a summer break to recharge our batteries and get ready for the new 2018-19 season which starts in September.

We have a new Fieldtrips Officer, Paul Pennington, who will be taking over the planning and fieldtrip arrangements from September onwards. I'm sure we'll have lots of great places to visit, as usual, some old, some new but always great days out.  There is no charge for these (except petrol-sharing costs and parking/entrance fees on a few reserves) and everyone is welcome to come along and bring friends and family.

If you'd like to contact Paul with some ideas for new fieldtrips within an hour and a half traveling distance of Leigh, he can be reached using the following email address:  leighos.trips@gmail.com or via a private message on one of our two Facebook groups:

www.facebook.com/groups/leighos
www.facebook.com/groups/leighosnaturephotos

The new fieldtrip programme will be announced on this website during the summer, as will the Friday night indoor meeting programme of presentation talks in the Derby Room at Leigh Library.

We also now have a members-only L.O.S. WhatsApp Chat group which can be used for chatting to L.O.S. members in-between meetings and frieldtrips and which may occasionally be used for arranging additional fieldtrips at short notice in-between the planned ones.

If you'd like to join the L.O.S. WhatsApp Chat group, please contact me, Martyn Jones using either of the two Facebook addresses above or by email using the following address: leighos.webmaster@gmail.com.

So we now look forward to having a great new season with lots of old and hopefully some new faces joining us in our forthcoming presentation and fieldtrip programmes.

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Bempton Cliffs RSPB - Sunday 13th May 2018


This is the last formal L.O.S. fieldtrip of the 2017/18 season and what a cracker it will be. Bempton Cliffs RSPB on the east Yorkshire coast never fails to deliver at this time of year. Gannets, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, Fulmars and Puffins are a nailed on certainty in this massive and spectacular seabird colony.

There could also be a supporting case of Peregrine Falcon, Barn Owl, Rock Doves, Tree Sparrows and many more farmland birds. If there is time and the inclination, we may visit another reserve along the coast too.

Meet at Doctors Nook car park in Leigh for an early start at 7am to arrive at Bempton Cliffs car park at around 9:30 to 9:45am. If you are not an RSPB member there is a small charge for parking. Please tell us in the comments below if you intend to go straight there. No need to say if you can't make it.

So everyone is welcome for our final trip of the season - it will be fantastic.

P.S. A recent sightings board from Bempton Cliffs RSPB: