Tens of thousands of people will have passed Abram Flash, and not really realised it was there.

Some will have taken a short walk along the Leeds/Liverpool Canal before dining at the former Dover Lock pub, others will have walked or cycled from Wigan or Leigh or some of the smaller places in between. You may even get an opportunity to wave to passing barges as they tootle past you.

They will have looked out over a lake, formed by the collapse of an old mine shaft, and colonised by many kinds of wildlife.

It is a body of water surrounded by woodland and wetland, and access to the site is restricted but there are viewpoints high up on the canal bank where you can see across the whole of the water, and it is busy with wildlife all year round.

Great British Life: Large red damselfly at Abram Flash. Photo: Alan WrightLarge red damselfly at Abram Flash. Photo: Alan Wright

Approaching autumn, waterfowl will be heading to Abram to overwinter, or to rest as they journey onward to Morecambe Bay. They will be escaping the harsh winter of Scandinavia and Russia, to get some winter warmth in Wigan.

The flash is a valuable roosting and feeding point for these migrants, including greenshank, dunlin and the beautiful knot. Other rarities will also pop in, so having a pair of binoculars is a must as you scan the flash’s clear waters.

In spring and summer, mute swans and mallards will live and breed on the flash and on the canal, they will paddle alongside the lovely tufted duck, pochard, garganey, shoveler and gadwall. There are records of all of these wildfowl breeding in the reedbeds and open water of the reserve.

Great British Life: Snipe. Photo: Darin SmithSnipe. Photo: Darin Smith

In the wet grassland around the lake and on the neighbouring Lightshaw Meadows, yellow wagtails and waders such as lapwings, snipe and redshank breed. Wet grassland is important because it is a habitat which is declining nationally.

Reed warblers, reed buntings and sedge warblers all breed in the swamp and fen, filling the air with birdsong, particularly on spring and summer mornings.

Water voles have been recorded making delicate ripples in the water. Deer and foxes will also pop in for a drink and a feed.

Though access to the reserve itself is restricted, the canal-side vantage point is an ideal spot to get a good view of wonderful wildlife.

Sitting on the side of the canal path, overlooking Abram Flash is a bit like sitting in a tall building observing the hustle and bustle of a city street at times, as swans flap furiously to take off from the water. Yet, mostly, it is relaxing and sedate as a female bird floats by followed by her brood.

Great British Life: Water vole: Photo: Tom MarshallWater vole: Photo: Tom Marshall

The canal is a great link to many areas and Abram Flash is part of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh National Nature Reserve and the Wigan Greenheart, where the green-thinking Wigan Council has worked with Lancashire Wildlife Trust, helping nature to create these amazing habitats for all kinds of wildlife.