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Glossy Ibis Ruffles The Feathers At Pennington Flash
Wednesday 10th December, 2008

Glossy Ibis Ruffles The Feathers At Pennington Flash
A Glossy Ibis taken by Dave Green on a previous visit to the UK in 2006.

PENNINGTON Flash scored a Greater Manchester first for wildlife after a rare visitor arrived on Sunday.

More than a dozen twitchers dashed to the 200 hectare country park in Leigh following reports a Glossy Ibis had been spotted at 10.30am.

The Glossy Ibis or Plegadis falcinellus is classed as a national rarity in the UK and its arrival in Greater Manchester is a first.

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Park Officer, Peter Alker said: “To put this in perspective there has only been 92 accepted records of this species in the whole of the UK in the 57 years from 1950 to 2006.

“It’s a national rarity and we would never have expected to see at Pennington Flash.”

Unfortunately, the bird only stayed for 15 minutes before returning an hour later for another 15 minute spell.

Ian McKerchar from Manchester Birding Forum said: “This is a big deal in bird watching.

“To spot a Glossy Ibis in Greater Manchester is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for bird watchers in the county.

“We would never envisage a Glossy Ibis being spotted in the county and we don’t envisage it happening again.”

The Glossy Ibis is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae. It is the most widespread ibis species, breeding in scattered sites in warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Atlantic and Caribbean region of the Americas.

This species is migratory and is 55-65 cm long with an 88-105 cm wingspan. Breeding adults have reddish-brown bodies and shiny bottle-green wings. Non-breeders and juveniles have duller bodies. It has a brownish bill, dark facial skin bordered above and below in blue-gray (non-breeding) to cobalt blue (breeding), and red-brown legs.

Pennington Flash in Leigh, managed by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, is a 200 hectare Country Park, centred on a 70 hectare lake or "Flash".

More than 230 bird species have been recorded on site including such as Black-Faced Bunting, Nightingale, Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill and Leach’s Petrel.

In May this year a Great White Egret was spotted pruning its feathers at Pennington Flash. It was only the third ever sighting of the bird in Greater Manchester, and certainly the first at the Flash.

Last December Pennington Flash had another first for the county when a Cattle Egret turned up on the golf course. December is often a quiet month in bird watching terms so two firsts for the county in successive years is quite unprecedented and maintains the status of Pennington Flash as the best site in Greater Manchester for finding rare birds.

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