Wigan Flashes 31.03.15

Overcast, a strong cold breeze, but a little brightness later.

Undeterred by the dire weather forecast, an admittedly smaller than usual group gathered at the Wellham Lane entrance to Wigan Flashes. Orientating ourselves with the help of a conveniently placed, if not very clear map of this former industrial site, we set off in an anti-clockwise direction round Ochre and Bryn Flashes. The strong wind did not suggest that we were going to see many birds, but within a few yards of the access point a well-stocked feeding station showed plenty of activity with the Great Tits, Sparrows, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and a lone Coal Tit all making the most of the relative shelter of the location. A pair of Pheasants were plodding around in the soft ground below the feeders and a Willow Tit dropped in to snatch a quick snack.

Wigan Flashes
Wigan Flashes

Walking along one of the many paths that criss-cross this extensive site, it was evident from the calls heard that there were plenty of birds around, but we were only able to get brief glimpses as they flitted back and forth across the path. What was possibly a Muntjac Deer was sighted, and a solitary Snipe shot up into the sky to be buffeted by the wind as we approached Ochre Flash, where a fierce wind whipping across the water deterred us from a prolonged survey of this expanse of water.

On the edge of the extensive reed beds of Bryn Flash, both Great Crested and Little Grebe were sighted, and as we turned to walk back along the western side of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal the very clear call of a Chiffchaff was heard. It was while we were vainly trying to locate this summer visitor, that a group of six or seven Redpoll suddenly flew into the Alders growing alongside the canal and began to feed, just a few metres away from us. The sunlight, that had made one of its brief appearances at this moment, lit up red markings of these birds clearly and  we had plenty of time to admire them before they flew off again.

Turner's Flash
Turner’s Flash

Crossing the canal we made our way towards Turner’s Flash, along a well-made path and past the occasional slag heap, a reminder of the industrial origins of the site. On the flash itself there was not a lot of activity, but Cormorant, Gadwall and Black-headed Gull were present in small numbers. The highlight here was, however, the arrival of a Willow Tit (ringed), which afforded us plenty of time to  admire it as it flew back and forth amongst the small trees growing on either side of the path.

With darkening skies and an increasingly strong wind, it was decided to turn back towards our cars, but one final treat was in store as eyes were once again drawn upwards by the clear call of a Chiffchaff and this time one, if not two, of the these birds were seen in the trees above. A Wren saluted us as we finally passed out of the reserve at the end of a good morning’s birding on a site that all agreed was well worth further exploration. Those few hardier souls who stayed into the afternoon added Shoveler, Goldeneye, Pochard and a Peregrine to the day’s tally.

Bird List for Wigan Flashes (CG)

  1. Pheasant
  2. Goldfinch
  3. Chaffinch
  4. Greenfinch
  5. Great Tit
  6. Coal Tit
  7. Blue tit
  8. Blackbird
  9. Robin
  10. Reed bunting
  11. Willow Tit
  12. Dunnock
  13. House sparrow
  14. Woodpigeon
  15. Greylag Goose
  16. Canada Goose
  17. Carrion Crow
  18. Jackdaw
  19. Tufted Duck
  20. Black-headed Gull
  21. Lesser Black Back Gull
  22. Mute Swan
  23. Snipe
  24. Coot
  25. Moorhen
  26. Mallard
  27. Grey Heron
  28. Cormorant
  29. Jay
  30. Magpie
  31. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  32. Little Grebe
  33. Great Crested Grebe
  34. Red Poll
  35. Long-tailed Tit
  36. Chiffchaff
  37. Wren
  38. Gadwall
  39. Shoveler
  40. Goldeneye
  41. Pochard
  42. Peregrine
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