As September draws to an end there is that feel of Autumn in the air here on the reserve. Despite the cooler mornings, the sightings have not disappointed. There have been some great sightings this past week, cracking views of some of our raptors including marsh harrier, peregrine, and still a late hobby! Close to being this week's star sighting was a young male hen harrier, giving fantastic views especially Marsh Covert hide where this photo was taken with it clutching a poor snipe!
Hen harrier with snipe in talon (Pete Sutton)
This poor snipe was not the only wader seen, with the recent good Autumn variety still ongoing, especially from the Inner Marsh Farm hide. Some to mention being, black-tailed godwit, ruff, dunlin, and green sandpiper. A flock of 40 golden plover joined the hundreds of lapwing, and a peak of five curlew sandpipers, the latter sharing their time between the Centenary and Bridge Pools therefore showing well at times from both the Inner Marsh Farm and Marsh Covert hides.
The three spoonbills have been regularly paying a visit to the reserve and it's lovely to see the big numbers of pink footed geese returning with one count of over 500 flying over Burton Mere Wetlands, and increasing numbers settling on the main scrape and surrounding wet grassland. Another highlight this week was a new reserve record count of shovelers, at 310.
Spoonbills (Carole Killikelly)
Recent warm spells still saw some late butterflies and dragonflies on the wing, whilst we've had regular sightings of our resident stoats, including this one below acrobatically catching a vole on one of the boardwalks!
Acrobatic stoat catching vole (Maggie Bullock)
This week's star sighting was the brief but surprising visit of nine Mandarin ducks on Bridge Pool, which is a record number for the reserve.
Pair of Mandarin ducks by The Mere in 2014 (Dave Finnegan)
This week the warden team have been busy with the new assistant warden Liz cutting some willows down out on the reserve to open up a viewpoint looking out onto the pools for our visitors to enjoy and get better views. Also the willow was becoming quite dominant and over grown in this particular area so by cutting it back it can allow other vegetation to grow and it will improve the wetland for the wildlife.
Some work also took place along the path to Inner marsh farm hide to put in a new footbridge and to reinstate the dragonfly pond that was once there. This work was able to be completed due to an extremely kind donation from the family of a long standing volunteer chris who sadly recently passed. Both the reserve and Chris’s family agreed that he would be happy having this area rejuvenated in his memory.
In addition some of the path by Inner marsh farm was resurfaced. The warden team worked hard wheeling barrows of gravel and then had lots of fun stomping it down, showing us their dance moves in the breeding wader dance!
The badger hide has been delivering great results lately, with users enjoying some incredible prolonged views with up to five individuals been seen! We're still taking bookings so if you’re interested please get in touch; badger activity starts as early as 8pm at present! This month we will be getting spooky for Halloween half term with the 'Wild Things at Halloween' family quiz trail starting on Sunday 21 October.
Next week sees the highest tides of the month, and we'll be at Parkgate on Tuesday 9 October for a Tidewatch event, followed soon after on Sunday 14 October by our first Raptorwatch of the season.
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