Greater Manchester Birding City Region Launch


Monday 19th March – Wednesday 21st March 2018 sees the launch of the brand new Northern Greenhouse project GREATER MANCHESTER BIRDING CITY REGION

Follow on Twitter: @MancunianBirder  @MancunianSpring

#GMBCR   #BirdingCityRegion   #GMGreenCity  #MetrolinkBirding



Carbon Landscape Conference

Monday 19th March 2018

Time: 10am-4pm

Venue: St Peters Pavilion, Hurst Street, Hindley, Wigan WN2 3DN



Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

Tuesday 20th March 2018


Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS




Greater Manchester Green Summit

Wednesday 21st March 2018


@ Manchester Central (Windmill Street)



Frack Free Greater Manchester Conference

Wednesday 21st March 2018


@ Central Methodist Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JQ






Greater Manchester’s Natural Capital


Photo: The Willow Tit is the most special bird in Greater Manchester in terms of population size and ecological significance on a national scale (Photographer: James Walsh @MancunianBirder)

Natural Capital is the generally accepted word for the economic value of the environment from a conservation perspective – nature conservation is an industry, and nature reserves can be big money spinners and provide more decent jobs for local people than, for example, the fracking industry, if conservation organisations with the know-how can work with business, local entrepreneurs and the community

The BBCs’ Springwatch has unlocked the British peoples’ love for the environment, but how many people in Greater Manchester realise that we have equally fascinating and enthralling wildlife on our own doorstep in the city region as can be watched on TV – it is surely not long before Springwatch is broadcast from Greater Manchester, or we have our own similar style of television programme

As an environmental purist, perhaps it is slightly unpalatable to put a price on wildlife and the environment, but it could be argued that in todays’ current capitalist system we risk losing even more habitat and species if we don’t maximise the natural capital potential of our wildlife and environment

Greenspaces are great for peoples’ mental health and dog-walking, but how many Councils are likely to refuse planning permission to big business because local people like to walk their dog around what is now likely to be eyed up as prime real estate land ?

I believe that we need to recognise the full potential of our environment and that the conservation movement, including the Save The Greenbelt movement, need to work in a much more business-like manner, and, likewise, the business community, including politicians, need to understand the value of natural capital, and perhaps we can meet somewhere in the middle

If we organise, educate and promote in a sustainable, positive and efficient manner, how much could each bird, flower and tree be worth to the Greater Manchester economy ?

For example, Peregrines are now present in several urban habitats around Greater Manchester, yet hardly anyone knows about them, they are not promoted and in that sense, perhaps we are missing a trick in terms of positive publicity for the environment – the business community, politicians, tourism industry and mainstream media in Greater Manchester just doesn’t seem to have cottoned on yet to the natural capital value of the city region

Another example is the Willow Tit, how many people know just how special this bird is on a national level ? Ten per cent of the UK population calls Greater Manchester home, and with this species being increasingly confined to the North of England, we find ourselves in a unique position of responsibility in terms of conserving this species that is on the brink of extinction in the UK

The extreme weather event happening at the moment (late February/early March 2018), the Arctic-like weather in Europe coinciding with an unprecedented temperature rise around the Arctic circle, is an urgent reminder that we are in the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch, where human, industrial activity is adversely affecting weather systems on a huge, planetary scale and we need change now!

Already this year, a decent number of green listening events have happened in preparation for the official Greater Manchester Green Summit, at Manchester Central, Wednesday 21st March 2018, and all these events are moving Greater Manchester City Region in a much more positive angle in terms of awareness of the concept of natural capital, but we now have to translate words to action


Greater Manchester Winterwatch



Photo: A Green Sandpiper was seen at the traditional site of Hope Carr Nature Reserve

Winter is usually a fairly quiet season in the birders’ year, but winter 2017/2018 was particularly lively on the birding scene in Greater Manchester, yet again proving what an amazing geographical/ecological area we have for birds!

Little Egret counts during the winter included 3 on Elton Reservoir, 3 on Dunham Massey/Bollington, 2 on Carrington Moss, 1 Cutacre Country Park and 1 on the River Glaze

Film: Little Egret, Pennington Flash

Pink-footed Geese “on the deck” are becoming a more regular sight for Greater Manchester birders with up to 550 on the Little Woolden Moss Lancashire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, plus 2 on the Manchester Ship Canal and 2 on Hollingworth Lake

A Greylag Goose on Chorlton Water Park in February was wearing a neck collar and was traced to the Lake District

Film: Pink-footed Geese, Salford Mosses

Greater Manchester is a great place to watch ducks, especially in the winter, and some of the highlights were a drake Northern Pintail on Chat Moss on the Croxdens Pools 15th-17th November, 33 Mandarin Ducks counted on 30th January at Etherow Country Park, female Greater Scaup and drake Smew on Elton Reservoir

Film: Drake Smew, Elton Reservoir

A Red-breasted Merganser was present in urban Manchester on Platt Fields Park and Alexandra Park from 13th-27th November, perhaps the same bird was present at Chorlton Water Park intermittently from 29th January-7th February, also one toured the reservoirs of the Piethorne Valley, Rochdale, 5th January-3rd February

Film: Red-breasted Merganser, Alexandra Park

Film: Red-breasted Merganser, Chorlton Water Park

Two iconic duck species here in Greater Manchester in the winter are the Goldeneye and the Northern Pochard

48 Goldeneye were counted on 24th January on the River Irwell and high counts of Northern Pochard included 17 on Audenshaw Reservoir, 14 on Chorlton Water Park, 10 on Moses Gate Country Park and 7 on Hollingworth Lake

Film: Northern Pochard, Chorlton Water Park

Film: Goldeneye, Mersey Valley

Film: Goldeneye, Salford Docklands

Peregrines continued to give spectacular views to birders around the urban environments of Manchester city centre and Salford Quays, and a Hen Harrier was reported on Lightshaw Meadows–ufE

Film: Peregrines on That’s Manchester TV

Green Sandpiper were present on Hope Carr Nature Reserve and Audenshaw Reservoir and a Woodcock was present on Pomona Docks

A very confiding and long-staying first-winter Glaucous Gull attracted crowds to the picturesque Hollingworth Lake from 25th January and it was still present in mid-February

Film: Glaucous Gull, Hollingworth Lake

Iceland Gull, Caspian Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Mediterranean Gull were seen at a number of sites, especially the Pennington Flash roost

A 2nd-winter Caspian Gull on Cowlishaw Moss, Shaw, Oldham, 21st January-11th February – this bird, carrying a big yellow ring X106, drew large numbers of birders to the fields on Cocker Mill Lane as it was a very difficult bird to see, with some birders taking up to 10 attempts to see it!

Film: Caspian Gull, Cowlishaw

Film: Yellow-legged Gull, New Smithfield Market

Big passerine sightings were a Hooded Crow in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Mealy Redpoll Elton Reservoir 7th -29th January and a Hawfinch, part of the invasion of this species into the UK, was present in Flixton from 2nd-12th December

Film: Hooded Crow, Wigan

Film: Mealy Redpoll, Elton Reservoir

Film: Hawfinch, Flixton

In conservation news, a new urban nature reserve was opened in Salford and ecologists began Willow Tit survey training with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Greater Manchester Ecology Unit as part of the Carbon Landscape Citizen Science Project

Film: Castle Irwell Urban Wetlands, Salford

Carbon Landscape Citizen Science Project

Film: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carbon Landscape Project




Northern Pochards on Salford Docklands

Salford Quays could regain Site of Biological Importance status on the strength of the recent revelations that Aythya diving ducks, and in particular, the Northern Pochard, still feed at the site

The biggest numbers of this species on the Salford Docklands are seen during the night, when the species most actively feeds, alongside bigger numbers of Tufted Ducks

The sightings are courtesy of some of Greater Manchesters’ most hardcore birders, who have been visiting the site during the night-time, you might have heard of Madchesters’ “24 Hour Party People” but these are the “24 Hour Birding People”

The Northern Pochard (Aythya ferina) is one of the most iconic species of bird associated with the Salford Docklands with large numbers present in the 1980’s and 1990’s during the winters that included a high count of around 2500 birds, occurring in January 1997

Academics and students from Manchester Metropolitan University, including Stuart Marsden, recorded these birds during special night-time birding sessions and produced a big paper; Salford Quays was given Site of Biological Importance status with the GMEU, Greater Manchester Ecology Unit

Numbers have reduced in the 21st century, due to a combination of climate change, the species not visiting the UK in the same numbers and the changing waters of the Salford Docklands – oxygenation of the water happened prior to the 2002 Commonwealth Games that seemed to reduce the availability of the birds’ food source

In recent years there have been a number of sightings of flocks of Northern Pochards feeding at night on Salford Docklands and these birds traditionally roost at Chorlton Water Park during the day

Birds that have been present during the day-time are a drake present from January 1st – 15th March 2014, three, a drake and 2 females were present during the afternoon of 1st December 2015 and a drake present 11th – 26th July 2016

Recent Northern Pochard (Aythya ferina) sightings on Salford Docklands

A drake was present from 1st January – 15th March 2014, favouring the Manchester Ship Canal from Clippers Quay to Pomona

In February 2015 it was confirmed for the first time in more than ten years that Northern Pochards were present on Salford Docklands during the night-time with a series of 5 sightings of 7-20 birds, located under the streetlights / moon-light from Trafford Whar,f on the south side of the central docklands area


Photo: The Salford Docklands under streelight/moonlight; a unique birding experience!

On 9th February at 2035 hours 9 Northern Pochard were present with 57 Tufted Ducks, seen at just 40 yards range

On 11th February 19 Northern Pochard were seen at 0525 hours with 12 seen at 0525 hours on 12th February and 14 with 45 Tufted Ducks at 2230 on 16th February

The highest recent count was on 17th February when 20 Northern Pochards were counted with 50 Tufted Ducks at 2130 hours

On 1st December 2015 3 Northern Pochard, 1 drake and 2 females, were present on the central docklands area during the afternoon, viewable from Trafford wharf

On 23rd December 2015 6 Northern Pochards were present during the night-time with 7 Tufted Ducks, viewable from Trafford Wharf at 2210 hours

On 11th-26th July 2016 a drake was present on Pomona Docks

In 2017 a series of four night-time sightings on the central docklands area starting with 11 on 4th January at 2215 hours with 91 Tufted Ducks

The highest count of 2017 was from Ecologist Zoe Barrett, 17 on 26th January around 2100 hours with 56 Tufted Ducks, 4 on 31st January at 2210 hours with 19 Tufted Ducks and 5 on 1st March at 2210 hours with 17 Tufted Ducks completed the sightings

January – March is the best time of the year to see these birds, therefore, why not take a trip to the Salford Quays and try to find these beautiful birds that are now listed as Globally Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List


To attempt to see the Salford Docklands Northern Pochards, try Trafford Wharf, the path along the south side of the docklands, the Lowry Bridge or the path in front of the Lowry Mall, any time between 2000 hours and 0600 hours 


Photo: This drake Northern Pochard, pictured with a Mallard for convenient comparison, was present on Salford Docklands from 1st January – 15th March 2014


Photo: A drake Northern Pochard on the Manchester Ship Canal – a real urban scene!


Could the Greater Manchester Green Summit on Wednesday 21st March 2018 agree to a Greater Manchester Northern Pochard Plan ?


Photo: The drake Northern Pochard is a very distinctive bird to identify during the daytime and its’ unique shape makes it possible to identify this species at night on silhouette

For more information, see the book “The Birds of Salford Docklands”


Photo: Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula) gathering at night on the Manchester Ship Canal


Photo: Tufted Ducks feeding at night on the Manchester Ship Canal – these distinctive diving ducks are often present in the same flocks as the Northern Pochard


The Salford Docklands’ rarest ever bird species, the Ferruginous Duck, has twice occurred on-site in with flocks of Northern Pochard and Tufted Duck


Could Salfords’ docklands regain Site of Biological Importance (SBI) status due to the new evidence of Northern Pochards still utilising the site as a winter feeding area



Mancunian Birders Notebook 2016


A great year for new birds! My first ever Dalmatian Pelican, White-tailed Eagle, Demoiselle Crane, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Cliff Swallow, Brunnichs’ Guillemot, Siberian Accentor, Eastern Black Redstart and Dusky Thrush, plus first ever UK Blue Rock Thrush! Celebrations aplenty for reaching The Big 400 UK Bird Species and the publication of my first books

The New Year 2016 rather appropriately began with a Salford Docklands trip to see the Great Northern Loon

This bird remained on-site until April and attracted hundreds of visitors, providing many birders with their first trip to this site


Film: Great Northern Loon @ Salford Docklands

James walsh mancunian Birder

There were many local patch visits to Salford Docklands during 2016 gaining data for the book “The Birds of Salford Docklands”


“The Birds of Salford Docklands”

Early in the year, a Pallas’ Warbler showing in the hedgerow adjacent to Heswall ETW on Target Road on the Wirral


Mancunian Birder Article – On Target


Film: Pallas’s Warbler, Merseyside

January & February sightings of Chiffchaff on Pomona Docks yet again showed how very important this site is for passerines, and in the Spring Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat on territory, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing, Common Sandpiper and a large Sand Martin colony were again noted!

With the Greater Manchester Green Summit happening in March 2018 it really is time to be talking seriously about how valuable urban nature reserves are to humanity


Pomona Docks on Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester


Film: Pomona Docks, Eden Project North


Return To Pomona public event, Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester

Saturday 28th May was a superb day showing more people around this urban ecological paradise on the Return To Pomona event! In June I visited the Eden Project in Cornwall for the first time, and it really makes you think we need something similar here in the North!


Architects’ Ecology Centre plans on Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands, Greater Manchester


Cornflower, Pomona Docks, Salford Docklands

Ecologist Zoe Barrett found Northern Wheatear and a drake Northern Pochard on Pomona Docks, plus rare Bee Orchids showing the floral value of this urban site


Drake Northern Pochard, Pomona, Salford Docklands

In June, a research trip to London that included a stroll through St. James’ Park to have a look at the Pelicans, recording a personal moment recalling how seeing these birds helped get me into birding when I was a young lad !


“A Mancunian In London”


“The Family Crest” Red-crested Pochard Article


@MancunianBirder shares birding memory in London!

It was therefore a full circle moment, on 19th June, to be seeing a DALMATIAN PELICAN in Cornwall, the first time I have seen a Pelican in the wild in the UK


Film: Dalmatian Pelican, Restronguet Creek, Cornwall


@MancunianBirder, Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

A pair of Ruddy Shelducks on the Slimbridge WWT nature reserve on 21st June were a fine Summer solstice surprise and looked like they had just arrived – but where from ?

Film: Ruddy Shelducks, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

After paying homage to the long-staying south coast / Radipole Lake RSPB eclipse drake Hooded Merganser, we began a long pilgrimage North, via the Red-necked Phalarope on Grindon Lough in Northumberland, to the Isle of Mull, the EcoTourism Paradise, to look for my 400th UK Bird Species, WHITE-TAILED EAGLE


The Big 400 moment! Connecting with my first White-tailed Eagles!


Celebrating Good Times on the Isle of Mull #TheBig400

Read all about it!!

“The Big 400 – A Personal Journey To 400 UK Bird Species”

Thanks to Shaun @MancunianSpring for the photos!


Film: @MancunianBirder talks about The Isle of Mull

On 11th July, after 12 hours of searching, I connected with the DEMOISELLE CRANE (also known as the Koonj) in Northumberland – this was apparently the last sighting of this bird in the UK, reports suggest it was relocated in Denmark


Demoiselle Crane, Grindon Lough, Northumberland

A summer of White Stork research, including many hours spent searching fields and suitable habitat, such as a rubbish tip in the Midlands, and visiting the inaugural East Anglia Re-wilding programme

A sighting in the wild in Worcestershire on Monday 18th July of a White Stork in flight at Throckmorton Tip flying towards Wyre Piddle, picked up after hours of mooching and scanning !

In September, I saw my first EURASIAN BEAVER along the beautiful River Otter in Devon, it took three days to see, including some very early mornings


Eurasian Beaver, River Otter, Devon, September 2016

Trenow Cove, with it’s spectacular views on Mount’s Bay in Cornwall, is the very picturesque site for the famous mega HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL


Film: Hudsonian Whimbrel, Trenow Cove, Mount’s Bay, Cornwall

The Dalmatian Pelican was still on a long summer residence, and whilst birding the Hayle Estuary news came through that Graham Gordon, a colleague from the infamous Brit birders “Birding In The USA” Cape May days, had found a mega rare American hirundine, a Cliff Swallow, on the Isles of Scilly!

Many thanks to George Kinnard for arranging the charter boat, and to Shaun for skilfully filming my Baywatch impression!


Film: Onboard the Falcon charter boat from Penzance to Scilly

On the Isles of Scilly CLIFF SWALLOW, Lesser Yellowlegs, Temminck’s Stint and Whinchat seen in just 2 days! Really great to be on the islands again, for the first time since 1995!


Film: Whinchat, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly


Film: Lesser Yellowlegs and Temminck’s Stint, Isles of Scilly

In Cheshire Yellow-legged Gull Sandbach Flashes and a pair of Ruddy Shelduck at Winsford Flashes

Thanks to Paul Brewster, Focalpoint Optics Manager, for the digiscoping equipment!


Yellow-legged Gull, Sandbach Flashes, Cheshire, September 2016 (@MancunianBirder)

Whatever the origins of the Manchester North American Wood Duck/s this species certainly caught the imagination of the local media and resulted in an interview on That’s Manchester with Chyaz Samuel, and a newspaper article, birders should always be looking to find the angles that inspire to bring birds and the environment to the attention of the masses


Film: Mancunian Birder That’s Manchester interview


Film: Drake North American Wood Duck, Manchester

Newspaper articles on birds are notorious for fake news!


A twitch to Fife in Scotland for the Anstruther Harbour BRUNNICH’S GUILLEMOT, a species from the Arctic Circle

The trip was successful with the bird filmed in the harbour, with some accompanying genuine Scottish harbour sounds!


Film: Brunnich’s Guillemot, Anstruther Harbour, Fife


Rare Bird Alert! Finders In The Field – Brunnichs’ Guillemot

On 1st October I found a duck that resembled a possible mega Western Spot-billed Duck at Fog Lane Park, south Manchester

In my opinion this species could be a potential vagrant to the UK from Asia, therefore I documented the bird as fully as possible, just in case! It took a while to see that the open wings were heavily pinioned, therefore, this bird was very obviously a bird that had been placed on the park duck pond from a collection, especially as it might have been a Mallard hybrid?! This was yet another episode filed in the “Educational Birding” file

As the Western Spot-billed Duck is closely related to the Mallard and are found on ponds, it is possible that a vagrant could actually turn up in the UK with Mallards on a duck pond, but not this one! A first-winter drake in Cumbria on the River Eden in March 2014 might be a candidate for the British List


Western Spot-billed Duck (or perhaps WSBD x Mallard hybrid?), Fog Lane Park, Manchester, October 2016

Moving swiftly on to perhaps one of the biggest ornithological events of the 21st century! The mythical SIBERIAN ACCENTOR influx into Europe, numbering a huge 213 birds between 4th October and 6th November, including 69 in Sweden and a bird at Easington, East Yorkshire that attracted thousands of birders to the Old School House grounds, where this bird fed in the open, famously around a big yellow skip, much to the joy of the huge crowds!


MEGA! Siberian Accentor, Easington, Yorkshire, October 2016


Film: Siberian Accentor, Easington, Yorkshire


Rare Bird Alert! Finders In The Field – Siberian Accentor


Birdguides “Bird Of The Week” Siberian Accentor, Easington


Julian Hughes of RSPB Conwy on the Siberian Accentor influx

Also, around Spurn a Shore Lark near the Bluebell Café, plus a very elusive OBP, and flocks of White-fronted Geese

The Lancashire Ross’s Goose that arrived as a first-winter bird in November 2013 again returned in the Autumn, firstly onto Newton Marsh on The Fylde, then Marshside Marsh RSPB, where three Cattle Egret were also present


Ross’s Goose, Marshside Marsh RSPB, Lancashire, October 2016

On 1st November a party of four adult Whooper Swans flew onto Castleshaw Reservoirs, one of my local patches amongst the hills above Oldham, Greater Manchester, giving some superb views


Whooper Swans, Castleshaw Reservoir, Greater Manchester, November 2016

A trip to the North-East, to the Cleveland coast, for my first EASTERN BLACK REDSTART and a Barnacle Goose flock at Saltholme RSPB Reserve

Eastern Black Redstart

The famous Eastern Black Redstart on the Cleveland coast, November 2016


Film: Eastern Black Redstart, Skinningrove, Cleveland

It was a mega carry on into the winter, with a DUSKY THRUSH being found near Chesterfield in December, however, this wasn’t even the rarest thrush to be found in the Midlands during the winter!


Film: Dusky Thrush, Beeley, Derbyshire

Also in December, following up a report of 2 drake Barrow’s Goldeneye on the River Mersey east of Chorlton Water Park, a pair of Goldeneye were seen, presumably not the same birds that were reported! I find it’s always worth following reports like this as you just never know your luck in the big city!


Film: Goldeneye on the River Mersey


2016 was completed in fine style with the publishing of my first books, a joint effort on “Fruitful Futures: Imagining Pomona” and a solo effort, “The Birds of Salford Docklands”, two books on the ecology of the area of docklands located to the west of Manchester, now generally known as Salford Quays


“The Birds of Salford Docklands”



“Fruitful Futures: Imagining Pomona” Book Launch, Manchester

Also in the Salford area a Great Grey Shrike over-wintered on the Mosslands, and the Little Woolden Moss Lancashire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve continued to progress from strength to strength

Great Grey Shrike, Salford Mosses

Pink-footed Geese, Salford Mosses

Natural Beauty of the Salford / Manchester Mosses


During the festive season, another sub-urban mega, this time in the Midlands! A male BLUE ROCK THRUSH in the Cotswolds, giving great views around the gardens and houses of Stow-on-the-Wold! Although I have seen this species on Mediterranean birding trips this was my first UK sighting – happy days!


Male Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, December 2016

“The Big 400” Published Online


“The Big 400 – A Personal Journey To 400 UK Bird Species”

Author: James Walsh

Available now on Amazon Kindle

James Walsh aka The Mancunian Birder becomes the first person to publish a book about seeing four hundred bird species within the UK, an almost James Bond-esque adventure of planes, trains, boats & automobiles from Manchester to the Scilly Isles to Kent to Shetland to Mull & many locations around the UK inbetween

“I started birding when I was eight, winning the Young Ornithologist of the Year award in 1985 & after more than 30 years of birding I managed to reach 400 UK bird species just before my 40th birthday” says James

Back in the day, in the 1980’s, birders had a reputation as anoraks, but these days birding is a big industry & superstar birders are the new rock n’ roll stars, with even Hollywood recreating the pioneering spirit of the birding experience for the big screen in “The Big Year”

There are several books that have a similar theme to this one, mainly accounts of a Big Year, & James Hanlons’ “Birding In The Fast Lane” is an account of a dash to 500 UK species, whereas this book is more of a Mancunian mooch, a smooth, reflective look at the UK birding scene from the 1980’s to the present day, a celebration of the UKs’ ecosystem & a great advert for wildlife and conservation in general; this book should take UK birding to the next level

The book contains personal accounts of many classic twitches such as the Yorkshire Spectacled Warbler in 1992, and the Pennington Flash Black-faced Bunting in 1994, both first records for Britain, and journeys to the Wilson’s Triangle and the Nottingham Triangle!

This book is proudly Northern centric, with chapters entitled The Madchester Era, Magnetic North and We Love The North, James says “It is time the view from up North is heard on the birding scene”

James concludes “Seeing 400 bird species within the UK has always been the classic target for UK birders & I feel honoured to be able to publish my own personal journey to reaching this target”

“This book was launched at the Rutland Bird Fair 2017, the UKs’ largest birding festival, and the North-West Bird Fair 2017 at Martin Mere, Lancashire in November”


James celebrates seeing 400 UK Bird Species on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, summer 2016


Wood You Believe It ?

Photo: The stunning drake North American Wood Duck at Fairfield on the Ashton Canal, photographed in September 2016 (James Walsh @MancunianBirder)
A pair of North American Wood Ducks have been spotted at Fairfield on the picturesque Ashton Canal just 2 miles east of Manchester, to the surprise of local birdwatchers

James Walsh aka The Mancunian Birder, a qualified Ecologist who has researched the species both in America and the U.K. says “The North American Wood Duck, commonly known as the Wood Duck, is a unique species, it is one of just a small number of duck species that perch and nest in trees, they like secluded still and slow moving water with plenty waterside vegetation and trees, therefore they are very much at home on the Ashton Canal

Sightings of this species are very rare in Europe with most relating to birds that have escaped from zoos or collections/formed feral populations, however, it is also scientifically proven that Wood Ducks are flying the Atlantic and arriving in Europe naturally – a drake on Stronsay in Orkney in January 2016 was another Scottish Isles sighting that might be a genuine vagrant

The North American Wood Duck is a symbol of successful conservation in the USA as the species was almost extinct around the turn of the 20th century, but good folks of America have worked together to restore habitat and put up special nesting boxes, and now the USA population is on the up

The drake is renowned for spectacular colours, while, like most ducks, the female is a brownish colour, so she is camouflaged on the nest and when looking after ducklings

A drake Wood Duck attracted many birdwatchers to Mersey Vale Nature Reserve just west of Stockport from October 2015 – February 2016, and there was also a sighting of a drake Wood Duck at Chorlton Water Park in July 2016”