Car Trip to Pennington Flash - 12/12/12
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Half a day’s bird watching was organised to Pennington Flash, a 70 hectare lake at the heart of 200 hectares of country park off St Helens Road, Leigh. The weather was decidedly chilly with the car thermometer reading minus three degrees.

On arrival at the car park at 9:00 a Kestrel could be seen hovering in the near distance, which we hoped was a good sign for the day ahead. As the group of fourteen donned warm gloves and hats and set up scopes a variety of waterfowl could be seen, including Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe, as well as the usual family favourites – Mallard, Mute Swan, Canada Geese and Coot.

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We moved on to the first hide which overlooked a spit of land where, quite quickly, the more experienced group members spotted a wisp of fairly active Snipe. As the rest of us struggled to make out their well-camouflaged plumage Mike noticed a solitary bird much closer to the hide so everyone was able to get a good view. From here we were also able to see a range of other birds sharing this stretch of lake, including Teal, Cormorant, Goosander, Shoveler, Lapwing and Black-headed Gulls.

Having warmed up a bit we decided to brave the elements again and move on. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to see from some of the other hides as large sections of the lake had frozen over and the birds had sensibly flown off to more fruitful sites.

Our party dispersed into smaller groups, some taking the shorter route to Bunting Hide where a variety of feeders and tables were set up to provide easy viewing of some wonderful little birds like the Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Greenfinch. The star of the show was undoubtedly the Willow Tit whose fast paced visits caused some problems for the photographers amongst us. A small group of us went in hunt of Siskins and were rewarded with a large mixed flock of Siskins and Goldfinches raiding the seeds of the alder trees. On the way back we had a spectacular view of a Kestrel resting in a tree close to the footpath.

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Meeting back at the car park at 12:30 we compared notes and the total tally was over 40 species. Some lucky people had spied a Kingfisher and others a Goldcrest so we all agreed it had been worth the early, cold start. As it was our last meeting before Christmas it had been arranged we would have lunch at the appropriately named Raven Inn at Glazebury, so we drove off in convoy with the strains of 4 Colly Birds, 3 French Hen, 2 Turtle Doves… ringing in my head.

Photos by Elizabeth M

VAL M

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