Written by, and posted on behalf of volunteer Eliza...
Slightly lower water levels on the main scrape have allowed the numbers of waders present to build up again, perhaps driven in by wet and windy weather. There are good numbers of black-tailed godwit showing alongside a few ruff, and a solitary green sandpiper was spotted at the back of the scrape. Plenty of teal are present as usual with shoveler and shelduck and some gadwall and pintail out at Bridge Pool. It can be crowded near the islands in the main scrape sometimes, and watching the wigeon trying to find a way out from between the hoards of black-tailed godwit has a touch of comedy to it; many of us will know how they feel at this time of year if you venture into town for Christmas shopping!
At least two great egrets have been seen on the main scrape, but the best bet for seeing one of these elegant birds is around the barn or the field behind, where our resident bird likes to spend its time. A resident green woodpecker has been feeding on the ground just in front of the visitor centre giving some very close views for visitors and staff. A grey wagtail has been seen today swooping down from the visitor centre roof, these startling yellow bellied birds are worth keeping an eye out for as their name really doesn’t do them justice!
Green Woodpecker (Colin Wells)
With winter truly set in it is no surprise to see some of our regular winter visitors dropping by or flying through. The railway bridge on the way to Burton Point is a good spot to see redwing and fieldfare, perhaps in part due to the abundance of haws and berries found along banks. A flock of 50 linnets was also spotted from the railway bridge. Whooper swans and Egyptian geese have been seen out on the marsh beyond Burton Point. At least two bitterns are using the reedbeds at Neston and Parkgate to roost over the winter, well worth braving the cold to see if you can spot one of these unusual birds.
For those who are patient enough (or exceptionally lucky) bearded tits are still being seen on the reserve, with the most recent sightings from the Reedbed Screen. Starling murmurations are a frequent but unpredictable sight on the reserve at present but if you are visiting in the afternoon it can be worth sticking around until ~3:30-4pm in case they put on a show.
Sunday’s Raptorwatch at Parkgate provided some close-up views of a short-eared owl as well as sightings of many marsh harriers and distant views of a male hen harrier. Visitors to the main reserve have not been disappointed either: peregrine, marsh harrier, merlin, sparrowhawk and kestrel all being seen.
This week we have been treated to spectacular views of flocks of up to 2000 black-tailed godwits right in front of the visitors’ centre. Packed tightly together by the islands or more spread out whilst feeding they are a beautiful sight but watching them take flight in mesmerising flocks when a peregrine flies by is truly memorable.
Lucky visitors witnessed up to 2,000 black-tailed godwits take to the sky (Paul Jubb)
It is no surprise that the weather can change plans on the wardening side of things, so the team learn be flexible. However, it is impressive what our assistant warden Liz, brand new residential volunteer Jess (check out her first blog when you get the chance) and other volunteers can achieve in weather which might drive the rest of us inside to stay warm and dry. Dragonfly ponds on the Farm and Fen Trail boardwalk had become overgrown and were due a clear out. A wet, cold and muddy job but I think you will agree they did a fantastic job and we hope these ponds will continue to provide ideal habitat for some of our dragonfly species.
It was a small but efficient work-party on Tuesday that did a marvellous job with the dragonfly ponds (Jess Agar)
Little Explorers is back with events running on Monday 18th November, 2nd December and 16th of December. Meet at the visitor centre at 10am for these sessions, which are aimed at preschool children (accompanying siblings welcome), no booking necessary. Stories and activities to excite your budding wildlife adventurers plus juice for kids and a hot drink for the grownups. Price: £5 per child (£4 RSPB Wildlife Explorer members); accompanying siblings half-price.
Tidewatch guided walk will be held at Point of Ayr 9:30-12:30pm on Wednesday the 27th November. Booking is essential via Eventbrite.
In the run up to Christmas we will be holding a Telescope and Binocular Demonstration Event at Burton Mere Wetlands on the 1st of December.
The next Raptor watch at Parkgate is on the Sunday 8th December, hopefully more views of short eared owls, marsh harriers and even hen harriers.
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