Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Horrocks Flash, Wigan

Tonight I arranged to meet Rob Thorpe so that he could show me around Horrocks Flash in Wigan. We'd met by chance earlier in year in Abram at Dover Basin and he'd taken me over to Lightshaw Flash to look for the unusually large flock of Black-Tailed Godwit which were there at the time.

As Rob had listed quite a few species here I'd asked him to show me where he goes to see them and he very kindly agreed.  We met up at about 16:25, a little later than planned due to some traffic problems I'd encountered in getting there.  I found Rob's parked car but as he was not around, I sent a text to let him know that I'd arrived - he 'phoned me back immediately and it turned out he was just across the railway line using his scope to look out over the Flash.

Soon we were walking on the path around Horrocks Flash. The first new sighting for me was a single Snipe in the far distance and later we had much better views of several of them together.  Rob also saw a Green Sandpiper but I missed it.  At this point I panicked because I went to look at my OS Memory Map of the area and couldn't find my PDA phone.  As I'd just used it at the car park, I thought I might have dropped it there, or even left it on top of my car. I decided to go back and look for it whilst Rob kindly waited for me - needless to say I found it in the boot of my car, just where I'd put it whilst getting my camera equipment out. Panic Over, but senility is arriving faster every day!

We carried on round the Flash until we got to the canal where Rob noted Willow Warblers, Chiff Chaff and a Kingfisher calling, but again I saw or heard none of them clearly enough for identification. We did get some excellent views of eight more Snipe from the canal and some Mute Swans with this year's downy cygnets, now quite large came over to us obviously looking to be fed.

Later a guy we met whow as walking his dog thought he'd seen a bird with a long curved beak and long thin legs which I immediately thought was a either a Whimbrel or a Curlew.  Rob worked hard trying to find it using both his scope and binoculars to no avail.  He did however come up with a single Black-Tailed Godwit and eventaully thought this might have been what had been seen.

As the dusk approached we climbed up the path from the canal to meet the railway again and got a good view of a flock of starlings getting ready to roost on the power cables of a electricity pylon. The full moon was now visible across the Flash and the light was fading fast. Our final sighting of the evening was that of a juvenile Hobby being mobbed in the distance - at first I couldn't see it, but then it flew across the water and right over the top of us.  A great sight to finish off the walk.

An excellent circular (actually more triangular) route with lots of different habitats to attract variety of birds - Thanks Rob, I definitely be back!

Pictures to follow ....

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