Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Walk in Lilford Park

I spent a hour or so at Lilford Park in Leigh today in a sunny break between the showers we've been having this week.  I went in search of the Green Woodpecker which is well-known but not often seen here, but the highlight turned out to be something quite different.  More on that later.

As soon I had walked through the park gates I found this Song Thrush digging for worms under a Weeping Willow tree. This part of the park is probably the prettiest at the moment with manicured lawns and well-tended flower beds as well as the beautiful long Willow branches which gently sway in a slight breeze. (I should have take a picture!)

When I walked down the main central path, I was surprised by how bright it looked at the far end, and then I realised that a large number of trees had been removed in and around the area which used to be the old zoo here.  I talked to a couple of people about this who, like me, were extremely unimpressed by this butchering of the parkscape.  Its seems to be something to do with extending the flood basin which divides the park from the meadows and woods on the other side of the small stream.  I asked if they'd been consulted or if notices had been put up about these changes, and neither people had been told or seen anything about it - it all happened very quickly.

Can you see Old Mother Willow's face in this tree?
In recent times a new footpath has been created along the flood channel, and I was walking down it when I saw my first ever Chiffchaff which I happily reported in this post last year.  The route up to the path has now been altered slightly due to the work going on here, but as I approached it I heard the distinctive 'yaffling' call of a Green Woodpecker amongst the many other birds that were singing.

Crow with a packed lunch

On reaching the path, I first saw a Carrion Crow carrying what appeared to be a sandwich in its bill. It flew parallel to the path and into a tree in Atherton Wood where it started to eat the bread.  As I was watching the crow, I caught a brief glimpse of another bird flying across the edge of the wood.  At first I thought it was a Thrush, but when I held my camera to my eye to take a shot, I soon realised that it was what I had come here for - a Green Woodpecker! Unfortunately the bird was moving too quickly and landed on a tree a bit too far away for a good photo, but here's my record shot anyway:

As I walked down the path a pair of Blue Tits flew in front of me and then over to Atherton Wood.  I dropped down back into Lilford Woods where I found a Robin feeding a young fledgling which was fluttering its wings, a male and female Blackbird playing 'chase' and a cock Pheasant which beat a hasty retreat when it saw me approaching. There was also another Green Woodpecker yaffling away somewhere, but I couldn't quite make out where exactly.

A Common Buzzard and Grey Heron flew over me as I wandered through the woods - it was incredibly quiet and peaceful except for the chattering of a few birds now and then.

In order to find some Woodpeckers I started to look for holes, especially in soft, dead Silver Birch tree trunks and whilst doing this I came across this Great Tit nestbuilding in a deserted Woodpecker hole.

A Face-full of Moss

I watched this little bird to-ing and fro-ing from the nest hole for about 20 minutes, only looking away for a minute to find a Great Spotted Woodpecker hammering away high up in another tree.  Before moving on I took this closeup photograph of some Wild Garlic.

I continued to look for more holes in case they might be filled by a Woodpecker this time but as I went round doing this, I came across something quite unexpected - a pair of tiny Treecreepers building a nest in the loose bark of a dead tree.  I watched them for about half an hour whilst taking a few photographs. Here are the best of what I got:

It's quite amazing how they grip the bark with their long toes.

A Classic Treecreeper Pose !

The light changed and so did the colours

Ain't that Cute?

Well, I spent far longer here than I intended and I was quite happy with what I'd seen, in spite of not having had much opportunity for taking photographs of a Green Woodpecker.

On my way out I was greeted by two people sitting on a park bench and enjoying the sunshine.  They were a very nice couple called Allan and Janet Roberts and they asked me about my camera as walked past - this is how we got talking about a whole host of things including bird photography, what was being done to the park, the new Guided (some say 'mis-Guided') Busway being created from Leigh to Manchester and other such stuff.

It hadn't taken me long to guess that Allan and Janet were retired teachers and, as it turns out, they actually live quite close to me in Tyldesley.   They were really enjoying their retirement and hadn't regretted the decision for a minute. I took them back into the woods to show them the Treecreepers and they seemed to be enthralled by the birds.  Later back at the cars, we exchanged e-mail addresses so that we could keep in touch about starting or joining an action group to look after Lilford park.

Allan e-mailed me in the evening (reposted in the comments below) with some positive comments about this blog and the following web address for anyone interested in giving their support in restoring Lilford Park to its former beauty - Friends of Lilford Park.

When I got home I updated my sightings on the map of Lilford Park from my Where-2-See Birds website. Here's what it currently looks like:

View Lilford Woods Bird Sightings in a larger map
So an unexpectedly pleasant afternoon outdoors in the sunshine with some very nice people - it doesn't get much better that that, does it?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Martin,

    It was a pleasure to meet you this evening and also to have a look at the amazing photographs on our blog. Very impressive.

    I found the following reference to a very newly formed group who are looking for new members soon. Thought you might be interested.


    Allan (& Janet)


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