Saturday, 16 October 2010

Pennington Flash, South Side

The view across Pennington Flash from the South Shore

This morning I decided to have a look at the south side of Pennington Flash as I'd only been down there once before and not for watching birds.  I'd checked out the sightings on the Manchester Birding Forum last night and so I was expecting to see some Goldeneye and perhaps a Black Necked Grebe as well as the usual suspects.

Rivington Pike and Winter Hill from Pennington Flash
Parking at the first car park and using OS Memory Map and the SatNav on my PDA phone, I traced my way along the public footpaths towards Sorrowcow Farm on the south shore of the Flash.  I'd decided to leave the spotting scope at home as I was carrying my large zoom lens and binoculars as well as the PDA phone and that was enough!

A juvenile Great Crested Grebe still showing its stripes
I first came across and the usual suspects for Pennington Flash: some Coots, a single juvenile Great Crested Grebe and some male and female Tufted Ducks.


A female Tufted Duck -  a common sight at the Flash
After a bit of searching with binoculars I found two female Goldeneye a little further out in the Flash.  At first I thought they were Tufted Duck but closer inspection revealed their true identity.

Two female Goldeneye
Just having a stretch

Ruddy Ducks are a bit of a problem for me as the birding world is divided over them  Apparently they are not a native species and were introduced from America in he 1930's to enhance captive wildfowl collections.  However, they now breed here and hybridise with the White-headed Duck and for that reason there has been a cull on them.  But not everyone agrees that there should be a cull and so reports of sightings are usually kept to a minimum.  This little fellow will be well-gone by now as I didn't include this picture until several weeks after I spotted it - and what is a native species anyway?  Let's hope they don't start on people.

Female or Juvenile Ruddy Duck?
I also got a good view of a Grey Heron which flew over me and circled round for a while.  I've been quite lucky with getting pictures of Herons recently as I'm managing to get a little closer with every shot.

Heron banking to the right
Grey Heron through the trees

But perhaps the highlight here was a group of four or five Cormorants which were gradually moving towards me with just their heads and necks visible, like a fleet of partially submerged submarines showing only their periscopes.

Cormorants pretending to be U boats

Occasionally they would DIVE-DIVE-DIVE and then reappear in a new position a little later. And then one by one they took to the air in a series of great splashes as they paddled with their feet to take off - a great sight.  I took some photos of all these birds but they were all a little far out to be of any real quality.

A cormorant taking off

Just as I was moving off I noticed a group of three darkish birds landing in the middle of the Flash.  I fired off a few frames on my camera in the hope of catching them, but it was set to Aperture Priority mode from my previous shots rather than Shutter Priority mode which is necessary to freeze the movement of moving objects - so unfortunately the shots are all a little blurred. Later on I found out what species they were from a fellow birder.

Three Common Scoter coming to land

Moving a little further down the shore towards Leigh Sailing Club and Green Lane, I met Rob Thorpe and later David Broome, who I'd not me before.  Rob wasn't too well and so we didn't talk much but he did tell me the three blackish birds were Common Scoter and they had only arrived recently - another first for my tick list!  He let me look through his scope where I got a much better view.  I asked Rob about the Black Necked Grebe but he hadn't seen it today over here. After he left I chatted to David for a little while and he told me about a few of the sightings he'd made recently in this area - nice bloke.

Pochard from near East Bay Hide

On my way back to the car I stopped close to East Bay Hide as I spotted something else in the water.  After taking a few pictures and zooming in to them, I decided that they were Pochard in amongst the Tufted Ducks - another positive identification first for me!

Reedmace (No, not Bulrushes!)

It was a nice change to see a different side of Pennington Flash and I'll certainly be back, probably with my bike next time to do a full circuit of the Flash.

There were some other types of bird around too.

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