L.O.S. Fieldtrip to St. Aidan's RSPB - Sunday 8th November 2019

GUSTY FOR THE GUTSY

A difficult 'Decide on the Day' event for our December fieldtrip. The group met as usual on Doctors Nook and the weather would eventually make our final decision. The western side of the country would be ruled out as the forecast was very poor, so it was decided to head over the border, eastward bound, to the destination of St Aidan's RSPB.


On arrival, our group of gutsy birders gathered, only to be confronted by a rather nasty looking incoming heavy shower. As we collected our belongings, the first real spot of the day. A Green Woodpecker flew across the car park only just above our heads.

At St. Aidan's there is a huge old Walking Dragline Excavator, called the Bucyrus Erie BE 1150, but more affectionately known as 'Oddball'. Little Owls roost and nest nearby but we had no luck in finding them.  However the Kestrels that nest in the machinery were seen many times throughout the day.

Kestrel (c) Martyn Jones
We all headed for the comfort of the reception to take shelter from the incoming weather. Here we would gather some information for the site, have a coffee, and wait some 20 minutes for the heavy shower to pass over.

Male Pochard (c) Keith Williams
Eventually we headed out onto the reserve. From the top by the coal dragline the whole site is visible, and for those whom have never been, I can only describe it as an caldera of wetland. The site has a great population of Kestrels. We watched as the birds hovered on the wind hawking the grassy embankment before taking a well earned rest on the massive excavator. Further on, good numbers Curlew and Wigeon, gave great views.

Male Stonechat (c) Martyn Jones
Now in the depth of this once opencast mine, we followed a pair of Stonechat and a number of Meadow Pipit flitted across the path. Above us, just above the steep hillside a single Buzzard was harassed by two Carrion Crows, then the Crow decided to have a pop at one of the Kestrel. Further along the path a Red Kite soared above the hillside and yet again the Crow took a dislike.

Meadow Pipit (c) John Preston
We headed towards the causeway, via a path that dissects the whole site. Huge numbers of Moorhen to our left on the boggy wetland. The lagoons to our right Pochards, Goldeneye, Shovelers, Teal, Gadwalls, with a handful of Tufted Ducks, and a single Snipe over. Also a Cetti's Warbler burst into that unmistakable song undercover of the reedbed, accompanied by the squealing of a Water Rail.

Female Goldeneye (c) Keith Williams
On reaching the causeway, a Peregrine Falcon sped its way across the water, lifting hundreds of panicked Lapwing into the air. Also Herring Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, great numbers of Black-headed Gulls and what can be only described as a cover of Coot as far as the eye could see.

Grey Heron (c) Martyn Jones
Crossing the Causeway we would follow the Aire and Calder Navigation, a brief stop by the weir on the River Aire would only pick up some of our more common birds; Grey Heron, Blue and Great Tit.

Lapwings (c) Martyn Jones
Eventually we arrive at Astley Lake, here a single Linnet amongst the couple of hundred Lapwing and Black Headed Gull. A couple of Common Gull and as we wound our way back for some lunch, a Volery of Long-tailed Tits meandered its way by A charm of Goldfinch also passed as we retraced our steps back to the comfort and warmth of the RSPB Reception, anticipating a welcome brew and lunch.

Brown Hare (c) John Preston
After a spot of lunch, some information had come in of a large flock of Geese on the Owl Wood side of the reserve. So to kill some time before 3pm we set off. This turned out to be a rather muddy trek, circumnavigating a hill of arable set aside. Alas, not a goose in sight. But on reaching the furthest point, good numbers of Redwing a handful of Fieldfare and a single female Yellowhammer.

Redwing (c) John Preston
It was now Owl 'o'clock, about 3.30pm. Short-eared Owls to be precise. We made our way back down into the reserve. The coal dredge high above us and adjacent to the grassy slopes were we hoped to see our goal. Four Owls had been seen the night before, but as the light faded and the wind blew, it was not to be.

Waxing Gibbous Moon (c) Martyn Jones
Eventually we called it a day. We had been lucky with the weather really. But on the other hand not so lucky Owl wise I'm afraid. All in all 51 species recorded, not a bad return.

Thank you to all for your company as always . Wishing all our members a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Paul Pennington
Fieldtrips Officer

Whipping the Flash into Shape


A group of fourteen volunteers from the Pennington Flash Volunteer Group planted over 100 assorted berry tree whips on the edge of the kidney pond at Pennington Flash this week.


Led by L.O.S. Chairman David Shallcross and Wigan Biodiversity Officer Kieran Sayer, the whips were soon dug in to fill in the gap left where the previous trees had been felled to give access for the heavy machinery to enter the area for groundworks.


The group also did some litter picking and work on installing a new wooden floor in the storage container we have recently acquired.


All photos courtesy of PFVG member Chris Saunders.

Starling Murmurations


The Open University are asking for any photos or reports of starling murmurations between 1st November 2019 and 1st March 2020 to be submitted to their nQuire website:

https://nquire.org.uk/mission/starling-murmuration/data

'Please share your photos of starling murmurations and your experiences of observing them so that we can explore this great winter spectacle together.'

You could also record them in the comments underneath this post to inform L.O.S. members where to see them locally.

Here's a thing!


The area that has been known as "Bickershaw Rucks" or just "Bickershaw" now has its official signboard at the Smith's Lane entrance: Bickershaw Country Park! The board shows the northern circuit footpath very clearly, and on a walk round it today (admittedly with a lot of detours to snoop around copses and ponds!) I counted 234 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare (I'm sure there were more!) 64 Goldfinch, 2 Kestrels and 2 Buzzard, as well as hearing a Cetti's Warbler and a variety of our common species - 26 in 2 hours.

There are even some new benches around the site, once the concrete sets, though you may want to take along a bum-warmer as they are metal!! We need more observers there - it's an area where you work for your sightings, but let's use it so we don't lose it.

A Letter From Our Conservation Officer

Dear LOS Member 

You will probably already know that Wigan Council is consulting with various stakeholders about future plans for Pennington Flash. The aim is to put together a "Masterplan" and there have been some quite radical ideas going about. We know people are worried about the introduction of new "leisure pursuits" which could potentially be damaging to the habitat and disturbing to the wildlife. 

The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, working with an Ecology Consulting firm called "Footprint Ecology", has put together a dedicated reporting page for Pennington Flash, and we would like to encourage all birders who visit Pennington to report their sightings via this web page. This is a particular push for 2020, and part of the focus is to get more data about what happens to birds when there is disturbance in any part of the Country Park. So please report ANY species of bird, mammal or insect, but of particular interest are any unusual sightings or unusual concentrations of birds in a particular location. For example, if there's a sailing race happening, you may see 32 Great Crested Grebe on the water in front of Ramsdale's reedbed. The web page allows you to report this down to that amount of detail, by means of a clickable map. 

This is the special feature of this data gathering - it needs to be very detailed as to where things are seen. Much of what is on record at GMEU, for example, is just down as "Pennington Flash" and does not indicate where in the Country Park something has been seen. 

The web page is really easy to use, although the map does take a little while to load. You don't even have to register - just insert your name and email address - but if you do register and login, you won't have to enter those details every time. Everything else is pretty much self explanatory. 



Members have expressed a little suspicion about bringing in outside ecologists. Please be reassured that this is not a big firm which works for big developers - the two consultants involved have both been keen birders from a young age, and their work is almost exclusively for local councils and nature conservation groups such as the Wildlife Trust. I have spoken at some length to Durwyn Liley of Footprint, and will be meeting him in early December. He is more than ready to listen to LOS and others from the local area, and to use our records as well as those generated during the survey year. I think it is a positive sign that the Council have commissioned this survey before rushing into development of the Country Park or additional leisure projects. 

I hope you will consider contributing to the survey whenever you visit the Flash from now and through 2020. 

Thanks! 

Paul Richardson 
Conservation Officer

pennington

A comment on my recent post.
ThomasMike Norris David, The Flash is multi-user facility. Your comment about Water-based activities just assumes that it should only be for wildlife. The survey itself takes no account of any use other than bird watching
  • David Shallcross Mike, it's not about birdwatching, that term assumes an inclusive and selfish pursuit. The Society (LOS) has worked long and hard to secure this place for nature from the early seventies to the present day, whilst I don't want to stop people enjoying what is now a major attraction in the NW I'm still firmly protective of nature, that's what the founders of LOS set out to do all those years ago and but for them the Flash would have continued to be filled in and who knows what it would have become, certainly not as you say "a multi-user facility" the survey is to determine the disturbance to wildlife in certain areas and to tailor the envisaged future of the country park. The size of the nature reserve has greatly diminished over the years with humans pushing out wildlife, with their own agendas and no thought about anything but themselves certainly not wild creatures, so please please please don't let's have any more. Don't slag me off for being a concerned and passionate wildlife do-gooder, do some research or better still have input into the survey I have spent the last 48 years as an ambassador for nature conservation throughout the North West region, so when I say something it's not without thought and research it's for the love of wildlife and nature, animals, insects, plant life the whole biodiversity of our world. Love and peace to all. regards Shallcross

Recording at Pennington

The following link is for submitting records to assist with a disturbance survey.
It's your chance to make sure the flash is protected from more water-based activities.
recording/pennington_flash_strategic_masterplan

Thanks for your support: David Shallcross Chairman

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Leighton Moss RSPB - Sunday 3rd November 2019

PATIENCE PREVAILS

Our third L.O.S. Fieldtrip of the season took us to Leighton Moss RSPB, always a popular destination for the Society and Guests.  With travel arrangements made, the group of 16 gathered as planned just before 9am on the RSPB Leighton Moss car park. Conditions favoured us, in the eye of the storm so to speak. Slightly overcast with intermittent bursts of sunshine, but more importantly deadly still. This would help with the quest ahead.

Rogues' Gallery minus 3 (c) Anne Johnson
We had a strategy, a target bird. One that is popular with visitors to the site at this time of year. The Bearded Reedling (Tit). We headed out on the reserve and out towards the Grisedale Hide area. Firstly we stopped off at the feeding station. Here the usual birds Chaffinch, Blue tit, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, and Greenfinch, all at close quarters flitting between the feeders.

Blue Tit and Chaffinch Face Off (c) John Preston
Working our way slowly towards the afore mentioned hides, stopping occasionally at various points. One such stop, the famed feeding log, Nuthatch, more Blue Tit, Coal tit etc, plus a Marsh Tit, which was a lifer for James, one of our younger birders. Above us high in the Alders, Goldfinch mixed with Siskin. A little further on, a Water Rail darted across the path then back into the scrub and the security of the reedbed.

Marsh Tit (c) Anne Johnson


We worked our way down the well maintained gravel footpath, ( which it was hard to believe a week earlier was under a good foot of water ) through the corridor of head high Phragmites reedbed, eventually arriving at our destination, with the hope of seeing our target birds, the Bearded Reedlings.

Keith Williams feeding a Robin (c) Mandy Robertson
Here the manicured opening of the reedbed, cut back to make an open space, some ten by ten square meters, with two small grit trays posted in the left and righthand corners. Now for the waiting game.
Sixteen of us stood by the reedbed opening and waited. Some fifteen minutes passed and nothing, and as one of our members would describe, remarkably birdless.

Teal (c) Martyn Jones
As the Grisedale Hide was only a very short distance along the pathway, the majority of headed off there, and left three of us on watch, in case the Bearded Reedlings turned up. At the hide, Marsh Harrier, Teal, Snipe and Pintail were the main attractions for the majority of the group

Drake Pintail (c) Graeme Robertson
Three of us still waiting for the Bearded Reedlings to show, Water Rail squealed around us in the reedbeds, Long Tailed Tits manouvered through the scrub Willow. Then there was movement, something caught our eye through the reedbed, was this the Bearded Reedlings? A message was sent to the rest of the Group in the Grisedale hide, but as the group regathered by the grit trays, a false alarm! A solitary Male Reed Bunting came and went.

Mute Swan in Flight (c) John Preston
This time the party decided to visit the close by Jackson hide, again leaving three of us on watch. We entertained ourselves by hand feeding a very tame Coal tit and Robin as we waited.

Cheeky Robin (c) Mandy Robertson
The three of us had now been waiting near on two hours holding the fort for the others. Then!! through the tranquillity, was that the faint ' ping ping' we could hear, the unmistakable call of the Bearded Reedling? Was this the moment? Then like some magical illusion, two males, three females, closely followed by two further females, appeared from within the Reedbed. The Bearded Reedlings were here, and in force.

Female Bearded Reedling (c) Paul Pennington
A quick call to the Jackson Hide, the rest of the group gathered to witness these wonderful, dainty little birds at close quarters, with their distinctive plumage. Then some 15 minutes later, as quickly as they came, vanished back into the vast reedbed. Certainly the highlight of the day.

Male Bearded Reedling (c) Anne Johnson
After the excitement of the morning, goal achieved, we returned to the car park for a spot of lunch, a group photo, and as we planned out next move, a fly over of Whooper Swans.

Marsh Harrier (c) Paul Morgan
Three would head off towards the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides, the rest would eventually meet up with them later. The main body of the group would head out via the Causeway. Along the way we would see a female Kestrel, Pochard, Shoveler, Mute Swan, and the usual Cormorant.

Lapwing (c) Martyn Jones
Eventually we met up with the rest at the Allen and Eric Morecambe Hides. Here there were a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit accompanied by the odd Dunlin, Wigeon, numerous Lapwing and Redshank. a handful of Little Egret as well as a single Common Sandpiper. A distant Peregrine Falcon sat on the fence posts and a scattering of Shelduck swam in the pools.

Did you spot the Dunlin in there? (c) Graeme Robertson
Other birds of interest on the day included Lesser Redpoll, Cetti's Warbler. Treecreeper, Bullfinch, a skein of Pink-footed Geese and a single Goldcrest.

Goldcrest (c) Keith Williams


All in all a fabulous day out. Target achieved, along with some 66 species. Leighton Moss is always worth the effort. So on that note, we mustn't forget the social aspect of these trips which are aimed at various levels of birding knowledge and which are filled with the usual great humour. Everyone is welcome.

View from Allen Hide (c) Anne Johnson
Thank you all for your company and support.
Paul Pennington 
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

L.O.S. Presentation - Friday 1st November 2019

Wildlife Wonders of Scotland

A presentation by our Chairman, David Shallcross


David tells us "this is a story of the species I have encountered summer and winter in or around the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland".

We meet in the Derby Room upstairs at Leigh Library at around 7:15pm for a 7:30 start. Car parking is free. Everyone is welcome and entry is free, although we would appreciate it if you'd buy a raffle ticket or two.

So do come and join us, bring a friend, become a member. Just ask one of us on the door for information on how to join our friendly society.

L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Starts A New Season

The L.O.S. Young Birders' team got the new academic year (2019/2020) off to a flying start yesterday afternoon with yet another visit to Gilded Hollins Primary School in Lowton, Leigh.

This is our eighth time at Gilded Hollins – we first went there in 2012 and, in fact, it was the very first school the team ever visited. Since then the Young Birders' Club team of Martyn Jones, Brian Fawcett, Teresa Fayle, Tony Bishop and I have worked with almost 2,000 children in twelve different schools as well as nine other groups including Brownies, Cubs and Leigh Rotary Club.

Yesterday’s presentation involved three of the team, Tony, Martyn and myself, and the two hour interactive session with 30 Year 4 pupils in Mr. Taylor’s class concentrated very much on bird identification. We started by looking at some key points in bird ID involving 12 common birds from Wren to Mute Swan. The children then spent a few minutes working in pairs to construct a Bird ID Dial. This was followed by two quizzes and then the finale was a rather noisy ‘Birdy Bingo’ game which the children thoroughly enjoyed.

It was great fun; the children were marvellous – enthusiastic and attentive. We can now look forward to more school visits with the added bonus of extra reinforcements as Brian is just back from his long 'reverse migration' trip to France.
George Pike
LOSYBC Team

More awards for work done by the L.O.S. in our local Community

L.O.S.  Committee members Eddie King and Tony Bishop were invited to the 'Wigan in Bloom' presentation night at The DW Stadium in Wigan.

They were presented with a signed certificate and small trophy to commemorate their efforts.

Over the last couple of years they have erected about 100 bird boxes, mostly for Tits but also some for Robins.


The following organisations have benefited :

Wigan and Leigh Hospice, Leigh Neighbours' Project, Leigh St. Mary's Primary School, Victoria Park in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Appley Bridge Floral Society and a national lottery funded group who work in the deprived areas of Leigh.

Most of the boxes were made by 'Men in Sheds', a local organisation made up mostly of retired men, and modified by Eddie with others made by Eddie himself.

Tony Bishop
Deputy Chairman




L.O.S. Fieldtrip to North Wales - Sunday 13th October 2019

DYDDIAU GLAWOG A DYDD SUL (Rainy Days and Sundays in Welsh)

Our second excursion of the season, took us to RSPB Conwy and an 'off the cuff' visit to Llandudno, and the Great Orme. On arrival at RSPB Conwy, the skies were dark with the threat of impending rain and the surrounding foothills cloaked in sporadic low cloud. The air was still and surprisingly warm considering. After a quick drink we headed out onto the reserve

Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshanks and Black-headed Gulls (c) Mandy Robertson.
The first couple of hides we found some of our more common birds: Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall and Mallard. The next hide we came across the reported Spotted Redshank, amongst a flock of some 200 Redshank which unfortunately moved towards the rear of one of the islands and out of sight. There was also an Oystercatcher, plus a herd of Curlew calling in the breathless air.

Spotted Redshank in winter plumage (c) Keith Williams
Moving on to next hide we came across two Red-breasted Mergansers, males in eclipse plumage, bearing the unmistakable white streak along their flanks. We headed further round the large pool to the various screens hoping for closer views. Along the way flocks of Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Greenfinch with numerous Blackbirds feeding on the heavily-laden berry trees.

Little Grebe (c) Mandy Robertson
On reaching the screens at the top end of the pool, the Mergansers had seemed to moved on. We were left with a Little Grebe and a handful of Teal. Reaching the estuary we spotted one of the Red-breasted Mergansers returning to feed, so eventually we had closer views.

Red-breasted Merganser (c) Paul Pennington
Working our way down the bank of the estuary, good numbers of Meadow Pipit, the odd Reed Bunting, 100 plus Teal mixed with Gadwall and Mallard. Three very late Swallows took advantage of the fly-rich air. Then the rain came. We took shelter in one of the hides looking back inland and over the large pool. Here the Redshank and the Spotted Redshank gave great views. A dozen Snipe hugged the banks of the islands, a Little Egret stood looking miserable, as the rain became heavier. The rain eased somewhat and we completed the circuit. We decided to indulge in a well-earned coffee in the café, time to deliberate our next move.

Little Egret (c) Graeme Robertson
Over coffee the consensus was to head over to the Great Orme. There had been reports of a Yellow Browed Warbler and four Ring Ouzel by the old Copper Mines. On reaching the top tram stop car park of the Great Orme, we were shrouded in cloud and heavy rain and visibility was very poor. Could this be a mistake!?! Fortunately the after some 15 minutes, the sun broke through and with it wonderful views down the Orme and a chance we could find the Ouzels and the Warbler.

Chough (c) Keith Williams
Working our way down towards the Copper Mine we were on the alert. A female Kestrel gave good views perched on a dead tree, no doubt drying out from the afore mentioned deluge. In vain we searched high and low in the reported area, but to no avail. So we returned to the cars.

Kestrel (c) Keith Williams
It was decided as we made our way back that we would visit the limestone pavement. On route a magnificent Kashmir Goat (Tup), one worthy of the Welsh Guards, wandered along the roadside, stopping to watch our cars as we passed slowly.

Male Stonechat (c) Paul Pennington
On reaching the limestone pavement, we decided to do a small circuit of the area. A good decision. Two pairs of Chough, a pair of Raven, a solitary Buzzard and numerous Stonechat, which ended a fruitful day. In all 52 species recorded by the seven intrepid souls who attended.
Thanks for company and hope to see you all on the next trip.
Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to RSPB Conwy - Sunday 13th October 2019


Our second fieldtrip of the 2019-20 season and takes us to the RSPB Conwy reserve in North Wales with the likelihood of calling it at some other well-known sites along the way.

We will meet as usual at Doctors Nook Car Park at 7.30am. The usual suitable clothing and footwear required. A packed lunch is recommended, although there is a café on site.

Car sharing can be arranged at Doctors Nook. Any further enquiries can be made, by messaging me on Facebook, a comment below or by email at leighos.trips@gmail.com.

Looking forward to seeing you all there.
Paul Pennington
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

L.O.S. Nomination for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

A fabulous letter arrived today to say that the Society has been nominated for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

If we are in the final selection, It will be a great tribute to the officers and members of our group both present and those pioneers of the last 48 years.

Hulton Park Public Inquiry - October 2019


The L.O.S. was asked to help out with a bird survey at Hulton Park, between Bolton and Atherton, which is threatened with a development of 1000+ luxury homes and a championship golf course.

About 45% of Hulton Park's green space would be lost to housing and manicured golf infrastructure. Tony Bishop, Jeff Hurst and Paul Richardson paid four visits during 2019, and Paul had an opportunity to speak at the Public Inquiry at Bolton Town Hall in October 2019

This was our submission to the Inquiry.

I am a retired GP from Leigh, living and working in Leigh for 30 years, and I am speaking on behalf of the Leigh Ornithological Society. 
Leigh Ornithological Society has existed for 49 years. It’s an amateur society of people who have a passion for birds, of course, but other wildlife and plants too. My role as Conservation Officer is to try to remind our councils and planners to cherish and conserve green spaces and biodiversity. 
We would argue against the proposed development at Hulton Park for three reasons. 
  1. For the public good. There has never been a time when public interest in nature and wild places has been higher. At LOS we seek to promote and encourage this. We have no personal axe to grind as an organization because we haven’t had access for nearly 20 years. The permit that one of our members had to survey the area was revoked in 2000. 
  • Natural England’s recently published report, “Monitoring of Engagement with the Natural Environment” (Sept 3rd 2019) shows that nine in ten adults are concerned about damage to our natural environment. The incursion of housing developments into Hulton Park’s green space flies in the face of this public concern. 
  • 89% of adults agree that spending time outdoors is an important part of their lives. There is potential on the Hulton Estate for improving public access to the outdoors, and this development fails to do that. The public footpath access which the developer designates as the “Hulton Trail” only differs from the currently available footpaths in that some of its length will run within housing estates, where it is currently through fields and woodsThe Hulton Trail does not give access to any of the green space which is currently off limits, because this area will be taken up into the golf course. 
  1. For the sake of its wildlife. Our knowledge and experience lies in observing birds in their habitat, and LOS members have paid four visits this year to the public footpaths in the south and west of the site, and to Dearden’s Farm in the NE.
  • I should like to record that we were refused permission by the landowner to visit the central area of the site – this was in spite of one member having had 10 years of access from 1990 onwards, and thus having a wealth of knowledge. 
  • The Breeding Bird Survey provided by TEP for the developer records 63 species, and we ourselves managed to record 46 with only limited access. 9 of our species are on the RSPB Red List of greatest conservation concern. We don’t find it relevant any more to say, as the TEP Breeding Bird Survey does, that many of the birds recorded are “common or widespread” – Red List birds include many that we would think of as common: House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Dunnock, and even Starling. Another 7 of our species are RSPB Amber list birds. These birds may be common and widespread now, but if we keep agreeing to such encroachments on green space, we will only continue to see the crashing of bird populations.  
  • Habitat: Our limited access to the site has shown us many lengths of so-called “species poor” hedgerows, many of which will be removed and replanted. But we have observed large communities of House Sparrows, pairs of Dunnock (Red List) Bullfinches (Amber List) as well as Jays and even Nuthatches using these hedges. Hedgerows are a Section 41 priority habitat. Peel will no doubt argue that there is to be considerable replanting in mitigation, but there can be no guarantee that bird species lost during the work and disturbance will ever return.
  1. Hulton Park is part of a geographical Wildlife Corridor providing a link between the West Pennine Moors in the north and the Mosslands in the south. Having been excluded from the site for 20 years, we cannot present direct evidence for this, but a cursory look at maps (see below) of the area shows it, with an almost continuous band of green space from Winter Hill down through High Rid and Rumworth Reservoirs, through to Hulton Park and then further through Gibfield, Lilford and the Colliers’ Wood area to Astley and Chat mosses. Greater Manchester Ecology Unit has extensive records of Winter Hill as a bird migration “hot spot”. Birds can’t stay airborne the whole time on migration, and we believe these green corridors are vital as hundreds of thousands of birds pass over the area every Spring and Autumn. For land-based creatures such as deer, badgers, foxes and Brown Hare, such corridors are obviously even more important.
DEFRA’s publication, Biodiversity 2020, the Government commits to an ambitious target of improving wildlife corridors on a landscape scale.
“We will enhance ecological connections between, or join up, existing areas of priority habitat, increasing opportunity for wildlife to move around the landscape by making use of ‘stepping stones’, ‘corridors’ and other features. To achieve this, we will take and encourage a more spatially-based approach, focussed on places, and landscape-scale action.” 
I found the Environment Bank’s Biodiversity Impact Statement interesting. I am encouraged that they find there is a net increase of biodiversity from this project. We appreciate the Developer’s commitment to sustaining and even increasing biodiversity, and the careful work it has done on mitigations and improvements to woodland and grassland particularly. 
But I have done also some sums. When you add the land area under housing, the building and hardstanding for the golf resort and its amenity grassland – the landscaped and ornamental areas – and the golf features – the fairways, tees, greens and frequently mown rough – you come to a total of 119 Ha, which is 45% of the area of Hulton Park at 268Ha. 45% of the ground area which is of low value to wildlife, and is effectively taken out of the wildlife corridor. 
This is NOT landscape-scale action to enhance ecological connection between existing areas of priority habitat. This is landscape-scale destruction and damage of the kind that nine out of ten adults in this country are concerned about.  
The Hulton Estate may not be the Amazon Rainforest, but it is still important and it needs to be conserved, not developed. 

Hulton Park Wildlife Recording Survey 2019



Dr. Paul Richardson
L.O.S. Conservation Officer