I had already decided to pay the £1.20 for the car park at Pennington Flash for once, not because the free car park would be still locked when I got there at around 8:00am, but because I didn't really want to carry my camera the extra distance it entails walking in the wind and occasional rain. But when I did get there, there was nowhere to pay - one pay station had been vandalised and the other said it was 'out of use' and to pay in the golf shop. Needless to say, there was no-one in the golf shop either.
After displaying my ticket, I set off straight for the prize, which had been showing at Pengy's Hide. This was fortunate as the hides had not been unlocked yet, and Pengy's is one of the few hides without a door. There was already a birder in the hide, but he hadn't seen the Shag this morning so we chatted for a while before I decided to have a look around the other locations. Bunting Hide was locked, so I headed for Horrocks' Hide where I knew Bill Harrison and probably Barry Hulme would be painstakingly searching for something of interest - well, they do come everyday and unlock some of the hides before texting the morning's sightings to the Manchester Birding Forum.
This proved to be a good move, because when I got there I was told that the Shag had been showing, and seemed to do an anticlockwise circuit of the pool which included swimming right in front of the hide before heading off into a little bay of reeds and out of sight. So now it was just a matter of waiting for it to do the circuit again.
I wasn't too long before it showed again through the reeds and then eventually it began the circuit. At first it swam further away to the opposite bank where it seemed to favour diving in front of some red dogwood, and then slowly it made its way towards us along the bank before popping up right in front of the hide. It really took me by surprise and as a result my camera settings weren't quite right for the light conditions. So I'm only partly satisfied with these results (as usual!).
And for those of you who can't resist making a comical answer to the question "What's the difference between a Cormorant and a Shag?" I'll nip it in the bud right now by including a side-by-side comparison with my photo of Cormorant from Orrell Water Park earlier this year: