This weeks blog was written by Matthew Scarborough our newest residential volunteer.

Recent sightings

Here at Burton Mere Wetlands we’ve had another excellent week for wildlife. Our resident stoat seems even more active than usual and has been spotted quite a few times this week leaping around the wetland.

It has been another great week for raptors with regular sightings of marsh harriers, buzzards and kestrels that have been hunting around the reserve on a daily basis. A little less regularly are views of sparrowhawks, peregrines and  hen harriers, which still cause a huge buzz on the reserve, as well as the resident barn owl and the calls of tawny owls in the evenings. The saltmarsh area 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 and bitterns!

This time of year is prime time for wintering water fowl and wader with great views of duck such as teal,  wigeonshovelergadwallshelduck and pintail. Burton Mere Wetlands also hosts hundreds of geese including greylag geese, Canada geese, Egyptian geese and thousands of pink-footed geese flying over dawn and dusk. We have also been lucky with waders this weeks with the main scrape revealing black-tailed godwitcurlewdunlingolden ploverruffredshank, spotted redshank and snipe across the reserve but particularly well right from the Visitor Centre.

The kingfisher seems to have been seen more often this week with morning visitors catching good views around the meres and even good views straight from the Visitor Centre. The great white egrets has been such a common sight this week that you have to remind yourself that they are actually still scarce winter visitors to the UK. Once or twice, as they have been wondering over the scrape, they have strode near little egrets where we can get to appreciate why they’re called great whites. The west end of the reserve has still got loads of redwing and fieldfare as well as big flocks of linnets, siskins and even views of ravens.

Star sighting

Marsh harriers have to be the star sighting of this week. Two of them in particular have given us a fantastic show over a couple of days where they’ve been almost dancing across the reedbed together. Not only have they been showing off their quartering skills but also been proudly sat on the vegetation in full view of the Visitor Centre for everyone to awe at.

Marsh harrier by Tom Giles

Wardens’ wanderings

A lot of the jobs of this week for the warden and the reserve volunteers have been centred around maintenance of the reserve infrastructure. These winter weather conditions can be quite tough on reserve hides and the Inner Marsh Farm hide has been standing strong against it for decades. This week however was time to give it a little TLC where the reserve team did an expert job on repairing some holes and part of the hide roof. The wet winter weather has also been causing parts of the paths have been at risk of flooding recently, so the team has been digging drainage channels to relieve the excess water. The whole team here at Burton Mere Wetlands are working towards the Green Dragon Environmental Standard over the following year. This is environmental standard that is awarded to organisations that are taking action to understand, monitor and control their impacts on the environment.

Inner Marsh Farm hide having had roof repairs.

Reserve team work party gathered on a frosty morning to dig drainage channels.

Get involved


Come find us at the Burton Mere Wetlands Visitor Centre where we are now selling lovely mince pies! The usual stunning views and amazing birds now with extra festivity. The new December quiz trail “Christmas Nature Trail” is now available any day you visit to help you and your family get in the festive spirit.

Join us on this exclusive early morning, behind-the-scenes walk to get closer to the managed farmland parts of the reserve, early booking advised for our Big Farmland Bird Walk on 5 January 8-10am Price: £10 per person / £8 RSPB members.

Sunday 12 January is our next Parkgate Raptorwatch. Come down and joins us to see if you can spot the fabulous raptors and egrets out over the marsh.

Sunday 19 January is our get ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch event. In support of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and prepare you for your own birdwatch next weekend (25-27 January 2020), pop along to this hands-on event at the reserve. Our knowledgeable team will be on hand to assist with garden bird identification to help you prepare for your birdwatch in your own garden, green space or school grounds.

Our Winter Woodland Festival is coming up on Sunday 29 December. Activities include a short guided walk to discover some of the wonderful natural delights of winter, natural crafts, cooking treats on a campfire, den building and minibeasting with friendly volunteers leading the way. A session of each activity will take place in the morning and afternoon.