Posted on behalf of Steven Williams.
As the reserve sets into late autumnal scenes, cold damp nights recede into misty mornings with the crunch of leaves underfoot and the reserves wildlife has responded with more coots arriving and almost daily sightings of hunting peregrines. Small groups of people are gathering at points along the Neston saltmarsh in the hope of catching a glimpse of a hunting owl during late afternoon. One of the highlights recently on the reserve was two short-eared owl hunting along the bunker hide bank. This was only the second record this year of one at Burton Mere Wetlands!
Talking of new records. Bearded tit sightings have been rather all or nothing this week with two pairs seen from the reedbed screen during early morning last Wednesday. Previous to this. As a rule early mornings tend to be when bearded tits are most active although they may be heard and seen at any time.
Work to unblock the drain connecting the scrape in front of reception hide to the wider reserve has resulted in a considerable lowering of the water levels. The exposed mud has drawn in more waders with fabulous shows from black-tailed godwits and lapwing, both doing spectacular acrobatics to avoid the raptors while the ruff, redshank, snipe and dunlin sneak into their flocks for protection.
Green sandpipers also appear to be enjoying the new buffet on offer where visitors have had close views of them on the islands closest to reception.
Super stoat has not been seen tackling the resident grey squirrels for a while whilst we have had two confirmed reports of such battles occurring, usually anywhere along the path to bunker hide and the far feeding station. Please report your sightings to reception. All the feeders closest to reception feature a daily colourful cast of great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and goldfinch amongst the other woodland birds.
Large numbers of pink-footed geese are roosting each evening on the reserve and to catch up with the whooper swans usually look for them gathering on the far fields beyond the scrape. A mix of ducks include wigeon, gadwall, tufted duck, teal and shoveler across the reserve.
On the Mere pools little grebes and tufted duck may be encountered. Scan the pool edges in the hope of a kingfisher and you may be in luck. They are a little secretive, preferring the quieter areas of the reserve, although their distinctive high pitched call is worth listening out for on any of these larger pools.
An individual sighting of a merlin on a fence post visible from reception hide was reported earlier in the week and just today great view of it above the toilet blocks near reception. Several other raptors have been around including, marsh harrier, peregrine, sparrowhawk, kestrel and hen harrier (ringtail) gliding very elegantly over the scrape.
Cattle egrets appear from time to time in individual numbers on the main scrape. Little egret are always great to watch fishing close to reception. Glimpses of stonechat regularly feature in our visitor book from here too. Individual beautiful red admiral and peacock butterflies are still occasionally reported alighting on surrounding bushes and walls even this late in the year.
Since Tuesday 23 October, when we first had a confirmed report of bearded tits on the reserve, they have become the star sighting for visitors coming in the hope of seeing them. A first record for Burton Mere Wetlands, it was first seen on from the reedbed screen and this is still the best place to look for them. The latest update is that on Wednesday 14 November, early one morning, our site manager caught up with two pairs of bearded tits seen from the reedbed screen. The water pipit, which is also a regular feature in our visitor book, has come in at a close second. Come and visit you just never know, may be you could be the one to spot them again.
Image: (Water pipit) - Ian Fleming.
Liz and the team of volunteers have spent a day fixing up the ramp boardwalk, replacing the rotting boards with shiny new ones last Thursday. Earlier the same week our volunteers were set the task of collecting up and taking away huge piles of leaves in the car park. At this time of year, as fast as they were cleared, the dusting of fallen leaves continued, thinly covering the entire car park.
We have a tremendous family quiz trail for the whole family. So come and do some tree gazing whilst finding out more about amazing trees and their identification. The autumnal wildlife is in full swing now with ducks galore and the brown, gold and red colours of the trees looking stunning at Burton Mere Wetlands.
The Badger Hide is still available to hire. Our residential volunteers had some great views of two badgers so they are still active. For bookings email: email@example.com
Our next Raptor Watch will be on the 9 December at Parkgate the Old Baths area. Put the date for your diary. We hope to see you soon.
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