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


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

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”

The Green Atlantic Gateway


Photo: A rare North American Laughing Gull on New Brighton Beach, Merseyside – the location is a premier site of the Green Atlantic Gateway (James Walsh @MancunianBirder)

#NorthernGreenhouse  #EdenProjectNorth


The Atlantic Gateway Project is Peel Holdings plan to increase trade into the North-west region and re-industrialise the Manchester Ship Canal

The plans have been around for a while, but while Peel have formulated business plans that resemble the 1950’s or the 1980’s business model, the world has moved on, and rather than wasting time on fracking, biomass, Underground Coal Gasification, etc, Peel would be better thinking about the words of one of their theme tunes – don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, and build a green business model that takes climate change seriously and embraces the green economy

A Green Atlantic Gateway project could be a world leader in renewable energy technology and link together large areas of wildlife habitat, including Seaforth Nature Reserve, New Brighton, Birkinhead Docks, the Peel nature reserves of Port Sunlight & Speke/Garston Shore, Otterspool, Eastham Locks, Frodsham Marshes, Moore, Richmond Bank, Woolston Eyes SSSI, Davyhulme Millenium Nature Reserve, Jack Lane Nature Reserve in Flixton, the Salford Mosses and the Salford Docklands

The Manchester Ship Canal could potentially become the East Anglia Broads of the North with wildlife watching boat trips and canalside accommodation, a world class EcoTourism zone

Making the Mersey Estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal World Heritage sites could link with Liverpool World Heritage site to make the whole of the Atlantic Gateway a World Heritage Site – the management of UNESCO, our politicians and business leaders must appreciate the heritage value, ecological value and international importance of this area



Pomona Star Bird – the Northern Wheatear


Photo: Male Northern Wheatear, Pomona (James Walsh @MancunianBirder)

The big news on Salford Docklands today is a Northern Wheatear present on Pomona South Marsh this afternoon, a superb find for ecologist Zoe Barrett (@DiamondBirder)

The Northern Wheatear is a star bird of Pomona Docks, the big area of Greenspace located on the south-east of the Docklands

Spring is the big time of the year for this species on Pomona, with up to 10 birds present, remarkable numbers for such an urban site, just a mile from Manchester city centre

In the Spring the Northern Wheatears are on their way north from their African wintering grounds to breeding sites on habitats such Northern/Scottish hills and find Pomona Docks a great place to get R and R and food during their huge northwards migration

In the Autumn the birds are heading south to Africa and utilise Pomona as a site to feed up and chill before their huge southwards migration

Todays’ sighting yet again shows the true ecological worth of Pomona, a site that is the feature of a new book

An event is being organised to launch the Pomona Book, a big collaboration of ecologists, journalists, students and academics on Tuesday 18th October 2016

Keep tuned to @MancunianBirder for more news on this large event!


A Mancunian In London


It’s a London thing! Green London is happening, very enjoyable research trip with plenty magic moments – seeing the St James’ Park Pelicans, visiting the new Woodberry Wetlands Nature Reserve, Peregrines soaring around Hertfordshire, completing an ecological survey of the Olympic Greenway, seeing Red-crested Pochard ducklings on The Peoples’ Park & Cetti’s Warbler along the New River Trail near to the Arsenal FC Emirates Stadium

A few comical moments on tour have included lots of Pimms, a bizzare Coronation Street star encounter, lots of Jack Daniels and a Wigwam