Places to see birds

THE RESERVOIR ROUND

THE RESERVOIR ROUND
Photo Frank Wood.

THE ancient, romantic name of Bolton -- Bolton-le-Moors -- paints the perfect picture.
Wherever you happen to live in the town, or in any of the satellite towns and villages that make up the Bolton Local RSPB Group's membership catchment area, there isn't the need to travel far to be out in open, rolling countryside. And that means birds and other wildlife.
It means that even people without a car, like veteran birder Geoff Leather - a driving force in the Bolton Group for 35 years - can get into the vast West Pennine Moors without hardly having to cross a main road. And that's what he regularly does, recording birds through the seasons for the group's Newsletter.
All around, the streams that drain the moors supply a whole chain of reservoirs from the glorious Rivington and Anglezarke in the north-west to Belmont, Wayoh, Entwistle and Jumbles to the north and Ashworth Moor and Elton reservoirs to the north-east.
As our new website develops, some of our members will be describing their favourite patch, giving a potted guide to likely bird watching areas for anyone not familiar with the area.
We start with our own "little Lakeland" - the three reservoirs of Entwistle, Wayoh and Jumbles, cascading down from the high moors between Bolton and Darwen to the sylvan splendour of the Bradshaw Brook valley.
All three are well served with public footpaths and parking areas and all can be reached by public transport with a bit of forward planning.
Probably the best way to appreciate the potential of this area is stop reading right here and take a look at the website of one of our members, John Barlow, on www.jrbarlow.co.uk and see for yourself what a trained eye can find. John, an expert photographer, takes 90 per cent of his photographs within walking distance of his home near Wayoh Reservoir.
In fact, there's hardly the need to describe the variety of birds and other wildlife to be found in this area because there's very little that John hasn't featured.
For hardy souls, the three reservoirs and the riverside paths that connect them provide a perfect long walk. You can park at Jumbles Reservoir (signposted off Bradshaw Road and with a small café open most weekends) and walk due north along the reservoir's east bank into the Bradshaw Brook gorge. That eventually takes you to the main road through Turton Bottoms.
Turn right, climb the hill for a short way in the direction of Edgworth before going left onto paths at the Black Bull Hotel and head across the dam of Wayoh Reservoir to reach the path along the western side. At the top end of the reservoir, climb the woodland path under the railway viaduct to eventually reach the highest reservoir, Turton and Entwistle.
A wide track runs all the way round, with the delightfully wild Yarnsdale Valley at the northern end.
Like Jumbles, Turton and Entwistle also has a couple of good parking areas - the biggest at Battridge Road (pay and display). Wayoh is the only one of the three without a designated parking area.
TARGET BIRDS. Many woodland species, including goldcrest, siskin, greater spotted woodpecker, wagtails, finches. Waterfowl use the reservoirs as a stopover so anything can turn up, but there are few records of breeding except great crested grebe and mallard. However, there has been a thriving heronry in the tall conifers on the northern side of Turton and Entwistle Reservoir. Growing numbers of goosander are appearing on both Wayoh and Jumbles.
The best map to guide you round this fascinating area is Ordnance Survey Explorer 19 West Pennine Moors (2.5 inches to the mile)