RUMWORTH LODGE RESERVOIR
Above: Your first view of Rumworth as you enter the field via the footpath, a field that once held a Richard's Pipit! Often, if a sensitive species is present, such as the 2009 Avocets, then viewing from this position is preferable as birds are very wary at this site and flush from the islands and shore easily. The two man-made islands are centre picture and the viewing area known as 'the point' lies roughly between them (Photo Ian McKerchar).
Rumworth Lodge Reservoir is a large shallow reservoir on the west side of Bolton's ring road and is accessed via a public footpath off the A58 Beaumont Road. Parking space is limited on Beaumont Road to two or three cars in the small turn off at the brow of the hill although access is required at all times for farm vehicles and should be borne in mind. In the event of a major rarity (national or county but surely due anytime soon?) or all the available spaces being taken, then parking is best along Armadale Road (which runs parallel to Beaumont Road). It is then only a very short walk back across Beaumont Road to access the reservoir but either way, parking along the edges of Beaumont Road is best avoided.
There is a multitude of habitat at Rumworth from farmland, mature Hawthorn hedgerows, a large phragmites reedbed, extensive marsh, small copses and the reservoir itself. The reservoir is highly susceptible to variable water levels but there is usually atleast some exposed shoreline and at best, in early autumn especially, large swathes of glorious mud dotted with shallow pools. Rumworth has lots to offer though and has hosted a good variety of excellent county birds such as Arctic Skua, Avocet (for which it is clearly the current top site in the county), Brent Goose, Little Egret (with a maxima of 3 together), Great Grey Shrike, Great Northern Diver, Marsh Warbler, Pectoral Sandpiper (2 records), Purple Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint (3 records), Red-necked Grebe, Ring-necked Duck and Richard's Pipit.
Above: 2009 Avocets (Paul Heaton) and 1980 Great Northern Diver (John Rayner)
Above: 2006 Little Egret, one of three birds present (Ian McKerchar) and 2006 Richard's Pipit (Phil Rhodes)
The map below outlines access to the reservoir. Once parked appropriately, there is a small stile over the fence at the brow of the hill on Beaumont Road which leads you to the footpath at the top of the field and Hawthorn hedge. It is very important that birders keep to the true footpath running down to the reservoir from Beaumont Road which actually runs along the edge of the Hawthorn hedgerow and not across the middle of the field. By rights there is no access to the main reedbed nor along any other part of the reservoir although a public footpath does apparently exists from Tempest Road to Lock Lane running through the fields. The farmland around the reservoir has been managed with wildlife in mind by the considerate farmer and can be easily viewed with a telescope from by the marsh and from 'the point', taking care to check all the hedgerows (shrike sp. anyone?) and any gull flocks which often gather in the fields. Mediterranean Gulls are frequent, especially after their post-breeding dispersal from a nearby breeding colony and juveniles are often recorded at this time. A full walk (or atleast drive) around the reservoir using the public roads can be productive and the areas either side of Lock Lane have some good habitat and offer much potential.
Below: Rumworth Lodge Reservoir site map (Ian McKerchar)
Below: Car parking off Beaumont road at this point is restricted to two or three cars at the very most. As it is such a very busy and fast road, parking along its edges is inadvisable (Photo Ian McKerchar)
Below: Looking down the field along the 'big hedge' and down to the marsh and southern edge of the reservoir. The hedges (this one in particular) and the Sallows in the marsh itself attract migrant passerines and Redstarts are often recorded along with various warblers and the occasional Ring Ouzel or Spotted Flycatcher. In winter they can be heavy with Redwing and Fieldfares which often also utilise the large field at the junction of Beaumont Road and Junction Road West. (Photo Ian McKerchar)
Below: Looking down the field (on the south side of the 'big hedge') at the marsh. There is an extensive Phragmites bed running off to the left and marshy area mid-photo with Sallows at it's edge on the right. The reedbed has both Reed and Sedge Warbler in summer and once played host to the county's first ever Marsh Warbler. The marsh has a good population of Reed Buntings and also attracts Stonechats (especially in winter) and Whinchat on passage. (Photo Ian McKerchar).
Below: 'The point' viewing area in all it's glory! The shore below here and running off along the eastern edge of the reservoir is good for waders and in low water levels the expanse of exposed mud here looks brilliant but has yet to fully live up to expectations. Birds can flush very easily from the islands and can also be hidden on the shore underneath you here, so caution is advised. It is best to scan the edges from a distance first before making your way to the small hawthorns by the point. In the far distance is Winter Hill (Photo Ian McKerchar).
Below: The inlet area at the mouth of the marsh. Good levels of mud are often first exposed here and the Sallows can hold migrant passerines. There is also a decent vista from Rumworth and one should not forget to scan the skies for raptors especially (Photo Ian McKerchar).
In short, Rumworth is always worthy of a visit, be it a flying affair, an hour or so 'wait and see what comes' or a full blown half day mooch. It can often look very quiet on first glance and perhaps just as often that first glance is as good as it gets! But Rumworth has a fine track record and offers relatively easy, serene birding and as such is one of the top sites in the county which ever way you look at it. Go enjoy and find that much needed mega to put it firmly on the map.
Ian McKerchar, July 2009