This week’s sightings have been filled with spectacular wildlife, including plenty of Great white egrets being seen from Burton Point and occasionally the wet grassland and 2 Egyptian geese have been spotted mixed in with the flock of mute swans in the far field. Kingfisher have also been spotted from the reed bed screen along with cetti’s warblers and the elusive bearded tits. On the main scrape there has been an abundance of activity, with golden plovers, oystercatchers, cormorants, dunlins, redshanks and lapwings being spotted regularly. Further back on the wet grassland we have our bigger waders, black tailed godwits and curlews. Marsh covert hide has been a good spot for seeing plenty of ducks including wigeon, pintail, teal, shelduck and gadwall, along with the occasional ruff.
Male and female Gadwall (Paul Jubb)
The raptors have been out in full power, with merlins occasionally being seen flushing the lapwing into a frenzy. Mash harriers, peregrines, kestrels and sparrowhawks have all been very active over the scrape as well. Over by the railway bridge and surrounding fields’ goldcrests, linnets, siskin, fieldfares and redwings have been seen in large numbers.
Goldcrest (Paul Jubb)
Around the visitor center feeders there have been great tits, blue tits, goldfinches, greenfinches and if you're lucky the odd nuthatch and greater spotted woodpecker.
Usually seen soaring above the marshes near Parkgate, on Tuesday we were given brilliant views of a male hen harrier as it flew across the scrape, getting very close to the center.
Male hen harrier in flight (Andy Davis)
STOP THE PRESS! BREAKING NEWS: The first Avocet of the year has just arrived this morning (14 February) surprising everyone in the visitor center! It has spent the day wondering up and down the main scrape feeding and preening itself, and in the next coming months we will see plenty more make an appearance and eventually settle down to breed.
A pair of Avocet feeding (Elizabeth Maddock)
This week the assistant warden Liz was out with a work party working on some essential coppicing at the back of the wet grassland. The work party was joined by our residential volunteers from last year Gwen and Alice who are still working hard to give nature a home. I was also lucky enough to help out with a bird ringing demonstration for a group of veterinary students.
Next week at Parkgate our Tide Watch event which will be on Wednesday 20, Thursday 21, and Friday 22 February. Other Parkgate events can be found at rspb.org.uk/parkgate.
Short-eared owl spotted during a Tide Watch (credit RSPB Dee Estuary reserve)
Our current Wild Challenge family trail at Burton Mere Wetlands is the “Nestboxes Trail” in which the family can learn all about the new homes birds will be using this year as they begin to start a family. There is always something to see and do this February so why not come on down and learn something new.
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