The week has been wild yet wonderful! Thankfully the weather did not put off the wildlife or the visitors.
On Tuesday all the pink-footed geese that were feeding out on the fields past the Bunker Hide decided to head out to the marsh round about high tide time. It was slightly unusual to see them head out on mass in the middle of the day but fantastic to see them as they flew right over the Visitor Centre. In other goose news…The tundra bean geese have recently been spotted around the fields in Puddington in amongst the pink-footed geese.
Pink-footed geese: Paul Jubb
The first half of the week, some eagle eyed visitors were fortunate enough to spot a red-breasted merganser on the wet grassland area. Which is highly unusual to get on the reserve. We managed to get it in the telescope from the Visitor Centre and show several visitors. Just goes to show that we only really see a fraction of the wildlife that is out there. Some other lucky visitors managed to catch the green woodpecker this week, normally first thing in the morning very quietly watching over Burton point but also managed to spot them from the path looking into the garden. We are still getting reports of water pipit in the fields opposite Bunker Hide and it is worth a visit down to Denhall Lane along the marsh to try spot them down there too.
Green woodpecker: Paul Jubb
The Great white egrets have been showing really well this week with at least half a dozen during the day from the Visitor Centre, feeding in Reception Pool and flying back and forth throughout the day. The little egret and grey heron have also been around but it’s the grey heron we have noticed more, lining up along the fence line like awkward teenagers waiting to be picked for the dance.
Spring is really just around the corner now as we watch the lapwing back on their breeding territories displaying. Another sign for us is a returning wader...see the star sightings to find out who, if you haven't guessed already. Black-tailed godwit, curlew, dunlin, ruff, redshank, oystercatchers and occasional green sandpiper still around busy as ever on the main scrape. As are the duck species like tufted duck, who can normally be found in the Reception Pool or on the Meres. If you’re just starting to learn your birds the reserve is filled with other different duck species like teal, wigeon, shoveler, gadwall and pintail. They are great because they tend to sit relatively still and near each other for comparison but start with the males as they the females can be a bit trickier.
Wigeon: Paul Jubb
Peregrine and hen harrier have got to be the star raptor sightings of the week. Fantastic views of a peregrine right past the Visitor Centre this week as it battled the oncoming wind. Our fabulous Kestrels have not seemed to be bothered by the wind taking full advantage of it. It is still an incredible sight to see when it’s been this windy how much skill and balance they have to maintain that classic kestrel hover. The area of saltmarsh between Burton Mere Wetlands and Parkgate have still been providing us with great views of hen harriers and marsh harriers as well as views of short-eared owls over the last few high tide events we have held.
This week’s star sighting was easy for us as! Our first Avocet returned to Burton Mere Wetlands on Thursday and it has not stop feeding since. You can’t mistake its unique feeding behaviour as it sweeps its head side to side in the water, nor can you miss its elegant striking black and white plumage. A joy and reminder of how special it is to have them breeding onsite.
Avocet: Ron Thomas
Busy time of the year for the warden team as they prep the reserve for Spring and the breeding season. Not helped by storm Ciara which tore through the willow screening between Marsh Covert Hide and Bridge Screen. Most of the week was spent on repairing that. The residential volunteers had been tasked this week with getting all the equipment ready for the Nestbox Building event we have next week. They have been working hard to cut and prep all the wood needed for it, a massive thank you to them for that. Other jobs done on the reserve this week have been clearing and opening up some more viewpoints across the reserve, so you can get a better look at the wildlife out there.
High tide from Burton Point: Paul Jubb
It's National Nestbox Week this February half term, we have the new February family quiz trail to celebrate all month. We are also in need of some new nestboxes to put up in trees around Burton Mere Wetlands, so we are holding a Nestbox Building event. It will be running on Wednesday 19 February between 10.30am-3.30pm. We're inviting families to get involved and have some fun helping us to build them, then choose a spot with our wardens for them to be placed in our woodland.
Our next Little Explorers event is on Monday 24 February, 10-11.30am meet at the Visitor Centre and come see what stories and activities we have planned. Price: £5 per child (£4 RSPB Wildlife Explorer members); accompanying siblings half-price.
Join us for our first Parkgate Tidewatch of the year on Tuesday 10 March to Thursday 12 March between 10am-2pm. We will be down at the Parkgate Old Baths for the spectacle of high tide as it comes in and pushes small mammals up the saltmarsh which can bring in some spectacular raptors.
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