Tell Chaddy the owl there’s a new bird in town.

A RARE, white, heron-like bird is attempting to become the Oldham borough’s most famous bird… and is likely to ruffle Chaddy The Owl’s feathers in the process!

A Little Egret is present on the Rochdale Canal just north-west of Chadderton Hall Park, in the big field adjacent to Coney Green Lock (number 62), about 500 yards north of the Rose and Lancaster pub.

little egretJames Walsh, also known as the Mancunian Birder, spotted and filmed the Little Egret on 14th October. James says “The Rochdale Canal is a great area for birds. I’ve been watching the birds all year along the canal from Chadderton Hall Park to Littleborough in Rochdale and seen birds such as Wigeon, Goosander, Teal, Mandarin, Little Grebe, Buzzards, Kingfisher, Redwings, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Swallow & Goldcrest.”

I hosted a “Big Garden Birdwatch” event in January 2020 with the Chadderton Steppers walking group. It was really popular and sparked an interest in birds within the group. I was planning similar events with the Steppers and Northern Roots but the events were cancelled for health and safety reasons – the Covid restrictions prevented the events from going ahead.

James made the local newspaper and a radio interview in 2019 for finding a group of three Great Egrets on Tandle Hill.

big garden birdwatch

James said “Egrets – I’ve had a few! It’s great to see these amazing birds strutting around the Oldham countryside. It highlights how great the greenbelt is for wildlife & what you can see when you dare to be wise.

Manchester has a very strong connection with Egrets. In 1889 Emily Williamson founded the Society for the Protection of Birds in Manchester. This society campaigned against the cruelty of the fashion industry using Egret plumes on women’s hats. It merged with a similar organisation in Croydon and then in 1904 became the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, now the world’s largest conservation organisation.

In the 1800’s the Egret was a symbol for protecting birds and now in 2020 the Egret is a symbol for saving the greenbelt.”

  • James Walsh is the author of “Birding Oldham” and “Greater Manchester Birding City Region” e-books, available online via Oldham Library / Borrowbox.

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