Thursday, 6 September 2012

Wading In

Around about this time of year birders have usually well & truly turned their thoughts towards migrating wading birds & here on The Quays happens to be no exception. Waders do turn up, with 13 species recorded to date, but finding them seems to require patience, hard work & a little luck as the water levels regularly vary, sometimes daily. An example is The Quays second record of Dunlin that appeared on the dock at Pomona & was feeding happily on the exposed mud on 22nd August. However, the following day the water levels had risen & the bird had departed. Local birders are currently lacking in information regarding what affects the water levels & consequently wader watching is slightly more random than, for example, a coastal site where one can schedule birding around the predicted high-tide time. 

Dunlin taking advantage of the glorious mud on Pomona Dock (photo: Gerry Flanagan)

The commonest wader is the Lapwing, a species of plover, that forms flocks on the Manchester Ship Canal at Weaste, in some numbers, the highest count being 50 birds. Other Plovers recorded on The Quays are Little Ringed, Ringed & Golden Plover. Oystercatchers are fairly regular visitors, & Common Sandpiper sightings appear to be increasing, especially at Pomona, on both Spring & return passage. One glaring gap in the wader list is Green Sandpiper, even though a regular wintering site for this species can be found only 2 miles to the north on the River Irwell. Common Snipe seem to like the boggy areas of Pomona during the winter, & the rarer Jack Snipe & Woodcock have been seen here also. Common Redshank, Red Knot & Bar-tailed Godwit complete the wader list.

As for the future, increased knowledge of the factors that affect the water levels would help, as would a wader scrape or two being built. Until then, wader watchers at The Quays are in for some fun & games! (& hopefully a rarity or two)

The "Start" of Autumn

                                                Common Redstart (photo: Steve Burke)

Autumn began "officially" on Salford Quays on August 22nd, when a migrant juvenile male Common Redstart was found on the old Pomona Docks site. It remained here until August 29th, amongst the Sea Buckthorn & Buddleia bushes located inbetween the Bridgewater Canal & Manchester Ship Canal. This bird appeared on the national bird news & for many birders might have been the first time they had heard of Pomona, or even Salford Quays, as a birdwatching site !

Another Redstart, this time a female, appeared on 1st September, the same day as a Wheatear was seen along the promenade. Common Whitethroats, Blackcaps & Willow Warblers are being seen most days here.

During the Spring Pomona hosted Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat, Redstart & perhaps double figures of Wheatear, so this fascinating site, formerly working docks & before that, Public Gardens, appears to be the premier place to look for migrant passerines on The Quays


From A56 south of Manchester, turn towards Cornbrook Metro station at the traffic lights that are adjacent to the Pomona Palace pub, park just after the small roundabout & walk over bridge, follow tarmac path & explore the site

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Waddle Like An Egyptian !

Egyptian Goose on Salford Wharf (photo: Steven Burke)

A species of goose that originates from Africa has recently been spotted by birdwatchers on Salford Quays. The Egyptian Goose (Scientific name Alopochen aegyptiacus) was first sighted on 27th June & appears to be enjoying life on the Costa del Salford so much that it has stayed. It can often be found around the Salford Watersports Club & Clippers Quay. Local residents of The Quays have also noticed this very distinctive bird.
“The natural habitat of the Egyptian Goose is sites such as the River Nile, but this bird’s origins are much more likely to be an escape from a zoo/private collection, or a visitor from the UK feral population in East Anglia. Either way, it’s the first time one’s been seen around Salford Docks!”


WELCOME TO SALFORD QUAYS WILDLIFE A new website to highlight the biodiversity of Salford Quays, located just west of Manchester city centre. Many people should know the site as the new home of the BBC & some people might know of the industrial heritage, but what many people don't know is how good the area is for wildlife. It has a bird list of over 100 species & there are many sites around The Quays to go birdwatching. It's not just birds, there is a flora list of well over 150 species, & an assortment of mammals & insects If you have seen any interesting wildlife around The Quays, please email: Yours sincerely, James Walsh (University of Salford Wildlife & Conservation student)