What a wild couple of weeks we have had weather-wise! Huge amounts of rain have really tested the warden team with their closely managed water levels. Sleepless nights worrying if the nesting birds around the islands would make it overnight or be washed out by the next morning. It is the finest of margins trying to way up how much it will rain vs letting out too much water and risk the muddy edges drying out! If they get too dry all the crucial invertebrate life will not be there for the growing chicks to feed on when they hatch.
When the sun has come out, we have had some wonderful splashes of colour with a variety of beautiful butterflies, the first few damselflies and some other incredibly beautiful insects that we often just walk straight past. The marsh orchid has started to flower along the path edges now and one of my personal favourites, birds-foot trefoil, has recently burst into flower along the main path to Bunker hide.
From top to bottom: Phyllobius weevil, Red-and-black Froghopper, Xanthogramma citrofasciatum & False blister beetle: Julie Rogers
With the hides now open we have had a few good sightings from them, like hobby from our brand new Border hide, bittern from Marsh Covert Hide and the star sighting (which you’ll have to keep reading to find out what it was) from the Bunker hide.
Bittern: John Hewitt
We have had an absolutely fantastic month with a common crane on the marsh, a bonerparte's gull then turned up on Bridge Pool, then we had our “star sighting” at the beginning of the week and just this Friday we had a wood warbler and a spotted flycatcher seen in our Gorse Covert Woodland. Along with all our usual spectacular suspects like Cetti’s, reed, sedge and willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat with fairly regular sightings of yellow wagtail, spoonbill visiting occasionally, then marsh harriers, sparrowhawk and some wonderful views of hobby seen from the Visitor Centre over the pool.
Spotted flycatcher & wood warbler: John Hewitt
Yellow wagtail: John Hewitt
The star sighting for this week is a bit of a hard one as there have been so many new sightings in the last couple of weeks! Top of the list has got to be the glossy ibis that stayed around from Sunday evening to Wednesday morning. The glossy ibis is usually found in places like Spain or Portugal but can be found across the world in many different counties from Africa to Australia. Here in the UK, we don’t get them visiting regularly and we think we have had around eight records here at Burton Mere Wetlands over the years.
Glossy ibis: Simon Knight
It’s has been one of the busiest breeding seasons yet! The warden team have been flat out doing their usual surveys with constant monitoring of some key species, like lapwing, avocet and redshank. The redshank surveys involve going out on the saltmarsh, which can be a tough and dangerous task, wading through the mud counting nesting birds. Here onsite at Burton Mere Wetlands the team either walk out on foot or use the tractor to slowly drive across the wet grassland habitat. Surprisingly the birds do not get disturbed at all by this method and the wardens have a great vantage point to count nests. The last count for our top three priority species of wader pairs was: Lapwing 89, avocet 78 and redshank 56.
Our newest family quiz trail ‘Baby Birds’ is out on the reserve for all the family to learn and get inspired. It takes you via the Meres into the garden then ending by the Den Building area, a great spot to get rid of any unspent energy.
Please remember to bring your face coverings if your planning on visiting our hides, please follow signage across the reserve. The visitor centre remains closed for now.
Our mail-order shop is doing well with some of our regular visitors stocking up on seed and don’t forget you can try before you buy on a great range of optics with us, which will then be delivered to your home. When you order any RSPB products with us you will get free home delivery on orders over £15 and the profits come directly back to the Dee Estuary reserve.
We also offer binocular hire on the Avocet and Puffins range for the day if you forget yours.
Our takeaway food and drinks are still available from the welcome point outside the visitor centre, with our sandwiches from the local bakery, back on sale.
The car park, toilets and trails are now open from 9am–9pm and will be throughout June and July. We continue to ask visitors not to arrive before 9am due to this blocking access for the reserve team and our neighbouring farm, so if you do find yourself in the village before 9am please make your way down to nearby Burton Marsh only five minutes away down Station Road, Burton.
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