The week started with an influx of avocets at Burton Mere Wetlands, with 48 counted on Monday and numbers remaining steady through the week, mainly preferring the main scrape and offering great views from the visitor centre. As well as sizeable flocks of lapwings and black-tailed godwits and small numbers of redshanks remaining, a single ruff has been intermittently on the main scrape whilst a green sandpiper has taken residence on Reception Pool. Other notable waders include up to five spotted redshanks from Marsh Covert hide and good numbers of snipe dotted around the pool edges throughout the site.
One or two Mediterranean gulls have been a fixture this week, seen from both the visitor centre and Marsh Covert hide, whilst great egrets continue to be seen at Burton Mere Wetlands - as opposed to just at Burton Marsh and Parkgate - most days, and three cattle egrets were a highlight on Friday. Kingfisher sightings are still almost daily, with one putting on a fantastic show from the visitor centre a couple of times, perching in clear view by Reception Pool.
Kingfisher by Paul Jubb
The bearded tits are still in the reedbed, where people staking them out at Reedbed Screen are seeing and hearing several secretive Cetti's warblers and occasional water rails. This is also where the first sand martin of the year was glimpsed on Friday, an early record no doubt a result of the unseasonable weather at the start of the week. Other early spring migrants included single common whitethroat and a couple of chiffchaffs, whilst a single tree sparrow on the railway embankment near Inner Marsh Farm hide was also noteworthy.
The lovely mild weather at the start of the week also led to the year's first sightings of peacock butterfly, seven spot ladybird, drinker moth caterpillars and shieldbugs, and the common lizards continued to be seen basking in their usual spot on the wooden fence at the start of the Reedbed trail.
Grey heron by Paul Jubb
The impressive 'siege' of 30 or more grey herons gathered by Bridge Pool was still catching visitors' eyes through the start of the week, but by the weekend the birds were making their presence felt up in the Marsh Covert heronry, with some visible, and certainly audible, from the Reedbed trail.
Common lizard by Paul Jubb
Up the road at Parkgate, at least one bittern is still around, short-eared owls continue to put on a great show most afternoons, with hen and marsh harriers regularly seen hunting.
A pair of pochards turned up on Bridge Pool this week, with good views from Marsh Covert hide and Bridge Screen; a rare bird for the reserve, so very interesting if they stick around into spring.
Male pochard (Ben Hall, rspb-images.com)
The warden team spent time this week making repairs to the car park edges and bay markers, along with cutting the last willows from the wet grassland around the main scrape in preparation for the breeding season.
Friday sees a second chance for you to enjoy a day's photography tuition with local photographer, Ron Thomas. Full details including booking are on our website here: www.rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands
Sunday is our final Raptorwatch event of the winter, with the aforementioned harriers and owls the focus of the event, but peregrines, merlins and kestrels are all possible to be spotted there. Details here: www,rspb.org.uk/parkgate
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