Atherton South in July

First July trip to the Atherton South patch early this morning to beat the heat. What a feast it proved to be. Swallows, Swifts and House Martins were making the most of the early insects.

No less than nine Mistle Thrush were feeding on the mown field at Long causewayThe July butterflies were out in force: Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, and Speckled Wood, with a Painted Lady for good measure, and a couple of Shaded Broad Bar moths.

One of the best areas proved to be the meadow next to the Howe Bridge football fields, which also held a family of Common Whitethroat, over 15 Goldfinch, and another family group - Pied Wagtails on the pitch itself. This lovely meadow is threatened with use as an additional pitch, but at present is a riot of wildflowers, thistles and grasses.

Moving on to Bee Fold Lodge, Brown Hawker and Southern Hawker dragonflies were already on the wing, a Kingfisher disappeared with a stripe of brilliant blue into the woodland, two Coot juveniles were piping at their parents, and swallows and martins were stooping to drink on the wing.

The thickets around the pond held Willow Warblers and juvenile Chiffchaffs. Beyond, there is a pylon with an extensive reedbed around its base, and for the first time, I heard Reed Warblers scratching away just beyond the pylon, too far to glimpse, but unmistakeable.

Taking the railway track path to link through to Miller's Lane, I had fleeting views of a kestrel pair using the thermals, when my attention wasn't taken by the flowers in the hedgerow. Yellow Wort and Centaury were in flower - great to see these in the area. This track is yet another hotspot for Gatekeeper butterflies.

By this time, it was getting too warm and the birds were quietening down, but not before I had counted 27 Rooks in a Miller's Lane field.

I headed home for a cool drink, but full of amazement again at the biodiversity on our doorstep. There was nothing rare this morning, just a fabulous feast of bird, insect and plant life to be treasured.

Should this area not be designated as a Site of Biological Importance?

Should EVERY green space between our townships not be guarded and defended?

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

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