Bird watching is a popular past time for many and one that can be done all year round as well! All you need is a bit of time, and maybe some binoculars.
Winter is a great time to go out and see some of our winter visitors, be it wildfowl like teal, or mistle and song thrushes or many of other birds that come to feed in the estuary, e.g. a variety of gulls, flocks of lapwing or the more elusive kingfishers feeding along the canals.
We have put together a list of places where bird watching is easily possible and with or without experience, you will be rewarded with wildlife.
1 Spike Island: This easily accessible site offers ample opportunity for bird watching. You will most likely encounter waterfowl such as Canada Geese, Swans, Mallard and a variety of gulls all feeding by the canal and on the grassland. Coot and moorhens will be hiding among the reeds as well. You will also have great views across the estuary, where you could see lapwing, shelduck and cormorants.
2 Along the Trans Pennine Trail: for example the viewing platforms at the Future Flower for great views onto the mudflats. You will most likely see gulls, cormorants, lapwing, shelduck, and black-tailed godwits. Keep an eye out for reed bunting in the reeds along the river and the canal. You will also find plenty of hedgerow inhabitants such as finches and thrushes, along with blue tits and great tits in the hedges along the tow path.
3 Gatewarth: A quiet site with great views over the estuary. Take in the views and see if you can spot buzzards circling over the grassland, looking for their next meal.
4 Moore Nature Reserve and Upper Moss Side: Moore Nature Reserve is an excellent spot for bird watching with several hides to keep out of wind and rain. The chances are high that you see many of our common bird species like blackbird, robin, blue tits, great tits, as well as wood peckers, and different types of finches. On the ponds you can often find grebes, different species of ducks, coot, moorhens. If you continue through Moore Nature Reserve to Upper Moss Side (Forestry Commission site), keep an eye out for birds of prey such as buzzards, kestrels and if you are really lucky a barn owl, as well as lots of finches. You might see little egrets from the saltmarsh hide.
5 Wigg Island: This is a great place for a walk and a bit of wildlife watching. As this area has different types of habitats, you are most likely going to see many different birds. Among the trees you can see blackbirds, robins, tits and finches, and the views across the estuary will give you plenty of opportunity to see estuarine birds. There is plenty of parking available there too.
Let us know where you spot wildlife when you are out and about!