What a mixed week of weather with a great mix of birds.
Across the reserve but mainly from the visitor centre we have had great views of black-tailed godwits, lapwing, snipe, ruff, curlew, oystercatcher, dunlin, redshank, spotted redshank and still occasional sightings of green sandpiper. We did also have a special little wader visit us for a couple of days but you will have to see my star sighting of the week to find out who! Top count for avocets now is twelve; best views on the main scrape.
On the wet grassland area, we have had almost a hundred golden plover counted this week, mixed in with the other waders and on Thursday when it was gorgeous and sunny we watched the golden swaths dance across the sky. Due to the really unsettled weather recently there is a large and growing amount of standing water on the wet grassland area, which is great for attracting more wildfowl, namely shelduck , teal, wigeon, pintail, gadwall, tufted duck and shoveler.
Golden plover by Paul Jubb
Reception Pool has had the best views of Great white egret along with little egret and grey heron. Some great interaction with these three birds. Most of the time tolerating each other but at times the great egret seems to be the more dominant if the other two get a bit close and will seemingly just need to look at the other bird to make them move away. Great numbers of grey heron now gathering in the Marsh Covert Woods during the day.
Cattle egret was still around earlier in the week in the field opposite the Bunker Hide. That field is also still getting reports of the water pipit around the muck heaps and the trailer that are there. I have to mention too, that side of the reserve can be a great little quiet spot as you head around the corner you can pop yourself on the bench and catch some of the most intimate views of kestrel hunting and greenfinch feeding on the feeders opposite. Always worth going right to the end and looking over the edge of the scrape from the gate you just never know what you may pick up from that angle.
The reedbed has been good this week with wonderful views of little grebe diving and zipping in and out of the reeds. Cetti’s warblers, water rail and water voles are always about in that area, you just have to be patient and spend some time looking for the more elusive wildlife. If you still don't spot what you had hoped to see, just keep coming back because sometimes the best wildlife experiences are when you least expect and they just appear out of the blue.
Little grebe by John Hewitt
Across the reserve we have had loads of other different birds from siskin, kingfisher, grey wagtail, bullfinch, nuthatch, green woodpecker and still the odd fieldfare. Raptors on site are being fabulous as usual; for the most part hen harrier (ringtail) every other day along with very active marsh harriers. peregrine, kestrel and sparrowhawk.
Long-billed dowitcher! The star sighting this week. This individual is suspected of over-wintering on the Ribble Estuary and dropped in for a couple days to visit us before heading back to the Ribble. Monday and Tuesday, we had a good number of visitors visit the reserve and got some great views, photos and videos. The long-billed dowitcher has only ever been recorded eight times on the reserve so it quite a rarity for us. It's described as a mixture between a snipe and a godwit, with a distinctive eye stripe.
Long-billed dowitcher by Carole Killikelly
Monday and Tuesday were both hectic and busy days for the warden team yet more repairs on the electric fence and the willow screening along the path between Marsh Covert Hide and Bridge Screen after the number of recent storms we have had. Thursday the warden team had great fun and headed off to Point of Ayr to replace fencing to protect the the winter high tide roosting birds from human disturbance.
On Saturday, Liz (assistant warden) and Matt one of our residential volunteers headed out along the Burton Marsh Greenway to lead the latest of our SC Johnson community litter picks sessions again due to the stormy weather washing loads of rubbish up. A massive 21 people turned up so a huge thank you to them for taking part and helping us clear loads of rubbish.
Point of Ayr and Burton Mere Wetlands reserve work by Jess Agar
Sunday 1 March brings our latest Wild Challenge Family trail “Mysteries of Migration” This self-led activity is part of the RSPB's Wild Challenge awards scheme and aims to get families outside for at least half an hour to learn more about the reserve and nature in general, there will be a sticker and little certificate to collect when you bring your quiz back to the visitor centre.
The next month's Little Explorers events will be on Monday 9 March and 23 March, 10-11.30am meet at the visitor centre and come see what stories and activities we have planned. Price: £5 per child (£4 RSPB Wildlife Explorer members); accompanying siblings half-price.
Join us for our next Parkgate Tidewatch events on Tuesday 10 March to Thursday 12 March between 10am-2pm. We will be down at the Parkgate Old Baths for the spectacle of high tide as it comes in and pushes small mammals up the saltmarsh which can bring in some spectacular raptors.
Join our friendly, knowledgeable volunteer, Richard for a leisurely amble around much of Burton Mere Wetlands on our Early Spring Wildlife Wander on Wednesday 18 March between 10am-1pm Price: £6.50 per person / £5.20 RSPB members. Booking is not essential, but places are limited so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Don’t miss out this Mothering Sunday at the reserve as Mums Go Free! Sunday 22 March, 9.30am-5pm. We have a great selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks to buy too, plus you can browse our mail order shop!
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