The reserve is just absolutely buzzing with wildlife right now. Every day we get reports of stoats across the reserve and water vole sightings have increased too. With this gorgeously warmer weather, we have had at least eight species of butterfly now.
Out on the main scrape, it’s a hive of activity and full of drama. From the fantastically noisy black-headed gulls squabbling between each other to the much more demur avocets who are still very feisty in defending their nesting sites as they begin to lay eggs. Amongst the flocks of brilliantly coloured ginger black-tailed godwits, another record number of nine bar-tailed godwits have been seen today and five knot, both fairly unusual birds to find in this habitat. The breeding waders are doing well at this point and pairs counted this week were around 65 avocet, 90 lapwing, 42 redshank and one pair of little ringed plover. We have two pairs of Mediterranean gull, one normally on the main scrape and the other on the Bridge Pool. All the usual fabulous ducks about too including the odd pintail, some teal, shoveler, shelduck, gadwall and great numbers of tufted duck onsite thus year.
Black-tailed godwit and Knot: John Hewitt
Great numbers of spotted redshank too from the Bridge screen with up to 14 seen on Thursday in almost full breeding plumage, they look almost black with the tiniest white speckles.
Wonderful birdsong to be heard across the reserve, even if you are not sure which birds are here to stay or passing through on migration it is great to just stop and listen for a moment across the reserve you may hear chiffchaff, blackcap, willow warbler, whitethroat and other little birds just being noted that you may see are wheatear, yellow wagtail and if you are more tuned into birdsong redpoll overhead.
A decent amount of sand martin, swallow and the odd house martin have now returned over the last couple of weeks, we are just waiting on the first swift of the season now, they are always last to arrive.
Sixty plus little egrets and grey herons nests have been counted in the last couple of days along with one pair of great white egrets. No sign of the cattle egrets nesting yet and a brief sighting of the spoonbill in breeding plumage dropped onto Burton Mere Wetlands Wednesday fingers crossed it finds a mate and returns.
Little egret: Paul Jubb
The reedbed is a great place to be at the moment. The male bittern is still around and occasionally booming with the most frequent sightings being late afternoon/early evening. One very lucky visitor got a great shot on his camera recently while trying to photograph the marsh harriers, as it swam across the right-hand side channel. Bearded tits are in the reedbed still but very occasionally seen, so if you do even hear their distinctive “pinging call” you are lucky and don’t be disheartened to have not seen one yet, just keep coming and trying.
Reed buntings are being seen around the reedbed area and within the trees and edges along the path nearby. Reed warbler heard frequently and are a bit harder to see but again keep persisting and you should get a glimpse at some point. Sedge warblers are a bit more obliging and more sightings being fed back to us. One warbler absolutely stealing the show is the Cetti's warblers with at least twenty plus pairs on-site and very regular sightings, which is not common for this species.
Lots of wonderful views of buzzards circling overhead above the visitor centre and regular sightings of sparrowhawk and peregrine hunting over the main scrape, with the usual kestrel hovering so elegantly nearby hunting small mammals. The marsh harrier pair that are nesting in the reedbed on Burton Mere Wetlands are looking great and visitors get regular views of particularly the male at this point as we suspect the female is sitting on the nest at the moment.
The team had a fantastic view of an osprey sat on a post on the marsh just down the road from Burton Mere Wetlands last week, then a great view of it as it flew off.
Whinchat are just being reported and being seen from Burton Point. They are a great little summer visitor that are on migration to upland habitats to breed. At first glance, they look similar to stonechat but are much paler looking and have a wonderfully musical call.
Whinchat: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
This is defiantly the busiest time of year for the warden team amongst all the daily day to day checks they have to do the team have had a few huge tasks that they have been smashing through.
They have started the breeding wader monitoring recently, with surveys of lapwing, redshank and avocet nests and the numbers are looking good at this early stage. Liz, Becky and the team have finally finished the huge task of repairing and installing the redshank survey posts out on the marsh ready for a busy breeding season.
The team, which includes a fantastic group of hard-working volunteers have also finished checking and mending the hides hopefully to be opened around May 17. They have also been hard at it carrying out some much-needed path repair work replacing the edging boards of the paths around the reserve and filling in the path. So please be patient and courteous as you may have to at times wait for them to clear tools for you to pass safely.
Path repair: Liz Boone
Our staffed outdoor welcome point outside the visitor centre is now fully back in operation between 9.30am–5pm with takeaway catering between 9.30am-4.30pm. Contactless payment is preferred and we have resumed the NHS Test and Trace programme during staffed hours as legally required.
The car park is still open between 9am–8pm. Please do not block the main gate on arrival if you arrive before 9am, as this is shared access with the farmer next door and will block essential access for reserve staff and neighbouring farmers. If you are in the area early, we recommend a look at Burton Marsh just a short drive away, to the west of Burton village. Toilet facilities are open at Burton Mere Wetlands from 9.30am-8pm, with regular cleaning in place. Baby change facilities are available whilst the welcome team are present.
With Government guidance hopefully changing next month, we hope to be re-opening our hides to the public from 17 May.
Our family quiz trail ‘Brilliant Bluebells’ is out for all the family to learn and get inspired. The bluebells are out now in Gorse Covert woods and just starting to show up on the Hill Fort.
Our mail-order shop is now back up and running to order any RSPB products for free home delivery which in turn means you then directly support Burton Mer Wetlands reserve. If you need help and guidance on purchasing binoculars and telescopes, we are providing a pre-booking service to view our range from our visitor centre before you choose which one to buy.
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