O.S. Pathfinder 712
Pennington Flash C.P. embraces an area of over a thousand acres, including the 170 acre flash and was opened officially on 15th April 1981.
The main entrance to the C.P. is on the A572 (St. Helens Road) close to the junction with the Leigh by-pass. The access road leads directly to the visitors centre, where there are permanent displays of historical and natural history interest. Information leaflets provide the visitor with a detailed description of the site, and the wardens and Leigh Ornithological Society occasionally operate a programme of guided walks throughout the year.
Although some of the land inside the country park boundaries is under private ownership, the network of paths and the position of hides facilitate enjoyable birdwatching and encourage visitors to select their own walks.
The main flash is of interest at all seasons and worthy of close attention before embarking on any expedition. The car park foreshore is a good vantage point and a convenient starting place for the popular north bank reserve area walk (note, you will need 60 pence for the parking meter).
The north bank route takes in the shingle spit, which can be viewed in comfort from the Frank Horrocks hide (Frank was a pioneer of birding in his day, now in his 90's and still a member of L.O.S. the area owes much to him for his early work on the conservation of this prime habitat). Pengy's the lagoons and Ramsdale's Flash are viewed from the path. Following this route can take you westward to Ramsdale's ruck, or east to take in other hides, passing the golf course and eventually on to arrive at the not to be missed Roger Wood / Bunting hide ( Roger was also a member of L.O.S. and worked here as a park ranger).
Ramsdale's ruck attracts few birds, but allows for fine panoramic viewing of the entire site, with Rivington Pike and Winter Hill to the north and the Pennines beyond Manchester to the east.
The visitor who spends a few hours in the country park and includes in the itinerary the main flash, ponds, scrapes, reed-beds, rough and short grassland, brooks and ditches, hedgerows and scrub will soon realize that Pennington Flash is a place for birds. There is much more to see and explore in this diverse habitat than I have mentioned and visitors will be hard pressed to take in everything in one day.
Much of the above text is reproduced from "Birds and Birdwatching at Pennington Flash" by Mr. J.D. Wilson, founder member of the L.O.S.
A taste of the species one can find there on most visits, of course some of the birds listed you will realize can only be seen at certain times of the year:
All inland waders are present at times, as is the odd rarity. Large numbers of Gulls occur, with Common and Arctic Tern Breeding on the man-made rafts that have been placed in various areas of the park. A recent rarity that arrived in late May 2002 was a single Whiskered Tern attracting many hundreds of birders from around Britain, in the past May 1994 a Black-faced Bunting put in an appearance from 8th to 24th May this again brought in those eager birdwatchers this time in their thousands. All five owl species have been seen and many of the common warblers and finches breed. At the present time well over two hundred species have been recorded here. a full list can be obtained when visiting the flash from the visitors centre.
Whether you're calling in for the day or as a regular contributor, if you make a species list or any field notes while visiting the Flash then our recorder and the Park Rangers would be grateful for copies. You can leave a list of species (with notes if possible) at the visitors centre, marked "F.A.O. Eddie King L.O.S." or "F.A.O. Park Rangers", or send them to Eddie's email address.
As mentioned above, you will note there are hides for cover in inclement weather, most days there is a refreshment van with the usual fare and there are toilets in the centre. If you prefer there's a good pub with grub just opposite the park entrance, failing that you are not far from the town's shopping centre with its many pubs, cafes, chip shops and butty bars.