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






The Fresh North Meets The Sexy South

The Mancunian Birder In The London Area

For my 30 Days Wild this year I have chosen to grace the South of England with my presence

I look forward to re-acquainting myself with the London birding scene

My most recent trips to the south have produced some magic moments – Short-toed Snake Eagle in Ashdown Forest, Buff-bellied Pipit, Black-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck and Green Sandpiper on QM Reservoir, North American Wood Ducks on Bookham Common, Red-flanked Bluetail in the Shire Valley, Great Bustards & Stone Curlew on Salisbury Plain, Hooded Merganser at Radipole Lake, Bee-eater on Portland, Cranes & Red-necked Phalarope on Slimbridge, Bearded Tits at Hyde Park, Bittern & Smew at London Wetlands Centre, Purple Sandpiper at Clacton, Arctic Skua & Spotted Flycatcher on The Naze, Hen Harrier at Colne Point & Mediterranean Gulls on Holland Haven, whilst back in the day I have had some big days such as the American Coot in Kent, Mongolian Sand Plover in Hampshire, Olive-backed Pipit in Essex & White-headed Duck & Greater Flamingo at Abberton Reservoir

David Attenborough has just opened the Woodberry Wetlands Nature Reserve, a Little Bittern has arrived at the London Wetlands Centre, Minsmere is the BBC Springwatch site again this year & the Spring vagrant list is already phenomenal, so it’s all set up for a fabulous trip

Keep tuning into this site & follow on Twitter: @MancunianBirder

SAFE Bird Report 2015


Photo: Pink-footed Goose on the Manchester Ship Canal, March 2015 (@MancunianBirder)




The Lancashire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve on Little Woolden Moss started to take shape with wading birds visiting in good numbers and Short-eared Owls a big feature of November/December

Stone Curlew, Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plovers all found the nature reserve to their liking, and passerine sightings included Whinchat, Stonechat, Cuckoo and the resident Willow Tits

During the summer a singing Grasshopper Warbler was present on Chat Moss and there were many Hobby sightings

An impressive sight was the flock of 300 Pink-footed Geese that took up residence in October/November


The big sightings of the year were Gadwall (January), Pink-footed Goose (March), Marsh Harrier (April), Pomarine Skua (May), Whinchat (September), Greylag Goose (autumn), Arctic Skua (November), Shoveler (November) and the very popular Great Northern Diver (December)

Little Ringed Plovers and the Sand Martin colony were a big feature of the Spring and Summer

Two birdwatching boat trips took place during 2015, including the launch of the Salford Docklands Project

Pomona Docks became a site of national interest with campaigners putting the site forward for a nature reserve / Eden Project North

Waders recorded on Pomona included Woodcock, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe and Common Sandpipers

Peregrines were seen displaying in the Spring


A high-count of 26 Goldeneye in December, and a Ring-necked Parakeet seen in November in Peel Park


Another great Salford site for duck watching with a high-count of 75 Gadwall and sightings of Northern Pochard and Wigeon

The Spring highlights were a Tree Pipit and a Lesser Whitethroat


A Water Rail was spotted in February


A good year with sightings of Green Woodpecker, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat, Tawny Owl and Willow Tit


A high-count of 41 Teal on Warke Lake, and a singing Garden Warbler in the Spring

World Heritage Group Publishes Official Pomona Bird List

#EdenProjectNorth #LovePomona #LoveBirds #SavePomona #MecoS #ScienceAsRevolution #SalfordDocklandsProject

Photo: Male Northern Wheatear, Pomona, Salford Docklands, Spring 2014 (copyright: James Walsh @MancunianBirder)

The Manchester Ship Canal World Heritage Group today publishes the official Pomona Bird List

Compiled from the records of professional Greater Manchester Ecology Unit ecologists, birdwatchers, casual sightings, and with some support from the Greater Manchester Local Records Centre, the list illustrates that a large 100 species have now been recorded on Pomona

James Walsh, qualified ecologist and Chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal World Heritage Group says “This list is a very comprehensive documentation of the birds of Pomona, the urban peoples’ nature reserve on Salford Docklands, the list shows the high levels of biodiversity on the site, thanks to all the people who have worked so hard on Pomona, many people have put in a huge amount of hours ecological field work and have some superb records and photos to show for it”

“The list shows what a superb site Pomona is for wildlife, there are many breeding bird species such as Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Skylark and Song Thrush, and thousands of birds every year use the site to feed on their long migrations, it is an essential unofficial urban nature reserve for wildlife and people alike”

“The list also shows the love and passion people have for Pomona, respect to all the ecologists, birdwatchers and photographers”

“This list is more evidence that Pomona should be conserved and enhanced for biodiversity, an Eden Project North would achieve this function and be a large tourist attraction”

“The Salford Docklands are attracting growing numbers of ecotourists who are visiting to take part in events such as Birdwatching Cruises and Wildlife Walks, and the EcoTourism industry can provide sustainable jobs and growth in the Manchester area, an emerging industry that can benefit everyone”

“With the Paris Climate Talks just in 5 weeks time, all businesses and councils should be looking to transfer and invest in the green economy”

“An Eden Project North on Pomona could be a catalyst for the Northern green economy”


Whooper Swan

Mute Swan

Canada Goose

Pink-footed Goose




Northern Pintail

Tufted Duck



Common Scoter


Little Egret

Grey Heron

Marsh Harrier




Buzzard (aka The Salford Eagle)




Little Ringed Plover (Schedule 1 species)

Ringed Plover

Lapwing (Northern Plover)


Jack Snipe




Common Sandpiper

Mediterranean Gull

Black-headed Gull

Common Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull


Common Tern

Feral Pigeon

Stock Dove

Collared Dove

Wood Pigeon

Ring-necked Parakeet

Short-eared Owl



Great Spotted Woodpecker


Sand Martin


House Martin

Tree Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Grey Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

Bohemian Waxwing


Dunnock (Hedge Accentor)





Northern Wheatear



Song Thrush

Mistle Thrush

Grasshopper Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Reed Warbler

Lesser Whitethroat


Garden Warbler



Willow Warbler


Spotted Flycatcher

Long-tailed Tit

Coal Tit

Blue Tit

Great Tit




Carrion Crow



House Sparrow








Reed Bunting