New trail is fit for a king­fisher

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

ABOUT a year ago I men­tioned that I had seen a king­fisher sit­ting on a branch over our lo­cal river.

Since then I haven’t seen it again. In fact, in 10 years living here I have only seen it that once.

In the lo­cal pub I have been told there could be three king­fish­ers nest­ing along a stretch of about half a mile, but I haven’t seen them.

How­ever, I do have high hopes for one of The Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust’s new projects, the King­fisher Trail.

This 11-mile route runs from the West Pen­nine Moors above Bolton through Sal­ford and into Bury, fol­low­ing the course of the rivers Croal and Ir­well.

It takes in Bradshaw Brook which is proper king­fisher ter­ri­tory, close to our Greater Manch­ester head­quar­ters in Bolton.

The trail will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to see king­fish­ers, dip­pers and other river wildlife in rel­a­tively clean wa­ters.

Bats will swish past your ears in the evenings, owls will hoot and deer will be around at the right times of day.

There will also be his­tory lessons as this trail was one of the ar­ter­ies of the Industrial Revo­lu­tion and we are still clean­ing up the pol­lu­tion and mess. We are ac­tu­ally look­ing for lo­cal peo­ple to tell us sto­ries about their ex­pe­ri­ences of work­ing, rest­ing and play­ing in the area.

Of course the fact that king­fish­ers are present is ev­i­dence that the wa­ter is clean enough to sup­port fish, which is good news.

The king­fisher can be spot­ted sit­ting qui­etly on low-hang­ing branches over the wa­ter, sud­denly div­ing in to catch a small fish. King­fish­ers breed near low­land wa­ter­courses and lakes which have suit­able banks for bur­row­ing nests and shal­low edges for feed­ing.

They oc­ca­sion­ally visit gar­dens.

The strik­ing mix of its bright-blue back and metal­lic cop­per breast make the king­fisher un­mis­tak­able. Male king­fish­ers have an en­tirely black bill, fe­males have an or­angey-red patch at the base.

So my plan is to walk the King­fisher Trail to spot th­ese won­der­ful birds and, in the fu­ture, walk a lit­tle more stealth­ily along our lo­cal river in the hope of see­ing a lo­cal flash of blue.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, Text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070. The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 Lo­cal Na­ture Re­serves. The Trust has 26,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­ or call 01772 324129. For in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.

●● The king­fisher can be spot­ted on low-hang­ing branches look­ing for fish in the wa­ter

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