Seven hardy souls braved the atrocious weather for today’s MNA walk around Wigan Flashes. We met up near Wigan Pier that despite reports of it being demolished looked reasonably intact. We wandered along a short section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal noting a Grey Wagtail near Trencherfield Mill that was enticing us with its call before we eventually had flight views. A Collared Dove was feeding on the balcony on one of the nearby canal-side apartments. We crossed the footbridge turning right onto the Leigh branch of the canal. Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys and Red Dead-nettle Lamium purpureum were eking out a meagre existence along the canal path and the Blackthorn Prunus spinosa were covered in delicate white flowers. A few Chaffinch were flying around the bare trees and a Greenfinch uttered its nasal ‘dzwee’, Blackbirds and Robin were singing from the far bank while on the canal were a few Mallard and Canada Geese. Across the canal beside Pearson’s Flash eight Lesser Redpolls flitted around before giving good views perched on top of the Alders Alnus sp. On the water Tufties were joined by Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Mute Swan and a male Pochard. A few of the male Goldeneyes were displaying throwing back their heads whilst the females were adopting a subservient pose lying with their heads low to the water. The driving rain made observations on Scotsman’s Flash problematical – there was a close Cormorant, more Coot, a lone Moorhen, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in a gang towards the back of the Flash and Hugh noted a gathering of Hirundines – probably Sand Martin.
We dropped down the path SW at the bottom of Scotsman’s Flash where I heard a brief chunter from a Cetti’s Warbler. Into the woodland a scattering of Fungi with Jelly Ear Auricularia auricula-judae, Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus, Yellow Brain Tremella mesenterica and Scarlet Elf Cup Sarcoscypha coccinea. Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa and Primrose Primula vulgaris were the only Spring-flowering plants. Birdlife included Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Prune, Song Thrush, a calling Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon and Magpie. We stopped for lunch on the picnic tables at Ochre Flash. A cob Mute Swan (sporting a blue darvic 4BDI) was all fluffed up for the pen he was re-establishing bonds with. I wandered along the track sighting a pair of Bullfinch. We continued along to Bryn March where a Kingfisher zipped across the reedbed. Another Chiffchaff was calling and a Cetti’s gave a burst of song. We returned to the canal track avoiding the deep puddle before crossing over a footbridge where a few Goldfinch were twittering and continuing back towards Wigan – another Chiffchaff calling and Cetti’s singing. Pearson’s Flash was productive again with ten pairs of Goldeneye now visible, Gadwall, Teal and Grey Heron overhead. A few metres along at Westwood Flash I stopped to check whether the Mute Swan was wearing a darvic ring – though it wasn’t –however three Snipe took off one after the other from the reeds – one of them circling around.