Sunday 1st June - Wigan Flashes

The plan was to take the train to Wigan and cycle back along the Leeds and Liverpool, and Bridgewater canal towpaths. The satisfaction of just getting on the train was tempered a little on finding out that it was going to Liverpool, rather than Wigan! However a change at Warrington to a delayed Glasgow train put us almost 'back on track'.

The canal bank near Scotsman's Flash was very rich with a variety of attractive flowers. It was particularly interesting to see two closely related plants side by side - at first glance they looked like the same species, so it was a good opportunity to see their similarities and differences:

Weld (Reseda luteola)- tall and floppy, and .... Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea)

They are both members of the Mignonette family. Weld is the taller plant typically flopping over (although the 2013 edition of the Blamey and Fitter guidebook indicates that Wild Mignonette is rather floppy), while Wild Mignonette is a stockier plant. Colours and individual flowers are quite similar.

Other flowers nearby included Hedgerow and Cut-leaved Cranesbills, Ox-eye Daisy, Creeping Cinquefoil,  Common Vetch, Sow Thistle and old spikes and new leaves of Evening Primrose.

Also nearby were both sexes of the Common Blue Butterfly:

Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) - Male


Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) - Female

Further down at Horrocks's Flash, the sounds of Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns preceded the views of them nesting on small muddy areas rising above the water surface. Common Blue Damselfly was frequent around the edge of the water.

While the area around Wigan Flashes was the richest for flora, the rest of the route alongside the canals provided much further interest, including many more birds at Pennington Flash, and Marsh Orchids by the Bridgewater canal.
Cathy and Mike Pettipher

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