Grab your binoculars, help yourself to a cuppa, and settle in for a frosty but fantastic week at Burton Mere Wetlands!
This week was off to a promising start on Monday, greeting us on the reserve with a crisp autumnal day and great visibility throughout, topped off by a stunning starling murmuration against a sublime sunset in the evening. The scrape was well-populated by black-tailed godwits and other waders, including a green sandpiper in the morning and the usual suspect ducks; wigeon, shelduck, teal and shoveler. A good variety of raptors as well to kick us off this week, from kestrels to marsh harriers, sparrowhawks to peregrines and a barn owl spotted over the railway bridge.
green sandpiper (Elizabeth Maddock)
Plunging temperatures overnight woke us up to a shockingly cold morning on Tuesday with freezing conditions on the meres and scrape in front of reception, though a decent amount of remaining open water allowed visitors to enjoy dramatic views in the morning; several skeins of pink-footed geese strewn across the sky over an icy landscape below- from the comfort of our roaring fireside in the visitor centre, of course! A single greenshank was seen on the main scrape, and a score or so of redwing and fieldfare, respectively, admired from the railway bridge around lunchtime. There’s been a flock of linnets about a hundred strong over the trees up that way this week as well. Our elusive kingfisher was seen darting around near Marsh Covert Hide, and a pair of snipe joined the black-tailed godwits on the far side of the scrape, with sightings of stonechat and a great white egret out past the bunker hide in the afternoon.
Tuesday morning looking out towards the barn (Dan Trotman)
We’ve had a couple of fearless characters this week on the reserve! If you’ve walked out to Burton Point or Inner Marsh Farm Hide recently, you’ve likely almost run into a very bold fox patrolling the path; visitors have also reported close encounters with a robin on the Burton Mere Trail, staunchly defending his feeding grounds this winter. Talking of winter, it must truly be underway, with a pair of bramblings seen these past few days around the feeders close to the barn.
The rest of the week has been chilly with variable weather, often clearing up later in the day to give us beautiful sunsets and fantastic starling murmurations. If you’re yet to catch one in person, it’s truly a spectacle not to be missed. We’ve had a few dunlin, redshank and knot join us on the main scrape midweek, as well as some showy displays from a merlin over the past few days- seen obligingly sitting on a post as well as flying over the carpark and over the Gorse Covert Woodland. A kestrel was spotted enjoying a successful hunt on Friday, and our hardworking staff were rewarded with astounding close-up views of a green woodpecker from the office in the afternoon! They do deserve it…
Star sighting of the week
Our star sighting this week goes to the merlin, seen on several days, particularly towards the weekend. As well as in the carpark and in the Gorse Covert Woodland, unusually good views of the nation’s smallest bird of prey were had from the visitor centre as it sat smartly on a post for about twenty minutes!
Merlin (Colin Wells)
A bit of cold weather didn’t stop our hardy team of wardens and volunteers making great progress in continuing to clear the dragonfly ponds beside the Farm and Fen trail on Tuesday- though they did have to break the ice before braving the icy waters to pull out the encroaching weeds and reeds! We expect a diversity of dragonflies to enjoy the pools come the warmer weather!
A couple of early mornings this week as well, with Assistant Warden Liz and Residential Volunteer Jess donning their gloves to level the potholes on the track up to the carpark before visitors started arriving on Tuesday and Thursday morning- they did have to light matches to defrost the locks to the grain-store first! We hope you’ll appreciate the smoother journey up to reception!
Don't miss out:
From Saturday 23 November - Sunday 1 December
Having being awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to help the creation of Burton Mere Wetlands, we're offering free entry to all National Lottery players as a special treat to say #ThanksToYou for your support. Click here for more info!
Little Explorers is back with events running on 2nd December and 16th December. Meet at the visitor centre just before 10am for these sessions, which are aimed at preschool children (accompanying siblings welcome), no booking necessary. Stories and activities to excite your budding wildlife explorers plus juice for kids and a hot drink for the grown-ups. Price: £5 per child (£4 RSPB Wildlife Explorer members); accompanying siblings are 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 Sunday 1st December.
The next Raptor watch at Parkgate is on the Sunday 8th December, you could catch more views of short eared owls, marsh harriers and even hen harriers!
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