Autumn colours at Burton Mere Wetlands (Paul Jubb)
Autumn has made its arrival with leaves tumbling down off the trees, lining the paths with wonderful seasonal colours. A few cold snaps and blustery days have encouraged us to light the visitor centre fire and with Halloween around the corner we’ve introduced some seasonal snacks and activities.
Winter wildlife is also beginning to arrive back on the reserve with five whooper swans on the scrape recently, along with a new seasonal high count of eight cattle egret, gathered together with the whoopers for a brief time. Always a highlight for the season, hen harriers have returned, including one of the distinctive grey males. Short-eared owls are another fantastic sight back out on the estuary and our smallest raptor merlin has been sighted at Burton Mere along with the reports out on the saltmarsh.
Returning pink-footed geese are back in to their thousands, with large skiens starting to come over the reserve either end of the day and their distinctive calls announcing their presence.
Seasonal migratory waders such as green sandpiper, common sandpiper, spotted redshank and golden plover are enjoying the muddy edges around the scrape islands, as are black-tailed godwit, lapwing, dunlin, snipe and ruff. Winter duck are increasing in number of the deeper water out at Bridge Pool and Centenary Pool including teal, wigeon, shoveler, shelduck and pintail. Out on Reception Pool it’s great to see gadwall up close, along with a little grebe often swimming around then suddenly disappearing as it dives below the surface.
Male gadwall (Paul Jubb)
Shoveler and wigeon in flight (Paul Jubb)
Sparrowhawks are frequently dashing past bird feeders and out onto the scrape, with marsh harriers drifting over the wet grassland behind. Another winter sight back on the reserve are stonechat, as are siskin. Grey wagtails are being seen close to the old fishery pools, along with more frequent sightings of kingfisher and we were treated to great views of green woodpecker zipping past the visitor centre last week, a first ever sighting for some of the visitors around. It's also the time of year when we have a small starling murmuration, which usually grows further through November.
Away from the birds, there are some impressive fungi sprouting across the reserve!
Shaggy inkcap fungus (Paul Jubb)
Halloween is nearly here, and we’ve got a new trail coming out as part of our Big Wild Halloween pack right through half term week, until Monday 1 November (whilst stocks last). We also have two exclusive guided walks coming up in November. For details of all our events, go to www.events.rspb.org.uk/deeestuary
There are also some seasonal additions to our takeaway snack range – seasonally spiced treacle, and parkin slices.
Our mail-order shop is ready to receive orders and our friendly staff can provide advice on everything from binoculars to bird seed. Our latest shop catalogue is out, filled with lots of festive things including our popular Christmas cards! If you spend over £15 you get fast, free delivery and all the profits made help our reserve directly.
Now the nights are drawing in and the clocks changing. Our winter closing will be 4.30pm from 31 October, including the visitor facilities and car park - but its the best of time of year to catch dramatic sunsets from the comfort of our visitor centre.
Winter sunset at Burton Mere Wetlands (Paul Jubb)
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