Even with the slightly soggy and dank weather we’ve still been having some wonderful wildlife spectacles. It was waders galore on Thursday, with over 100 golden plover, 50+ dunlin, ruff, spotted redshank, 40+ snipe, over 4000 lapwing and over 1400 black-tailed godwit counted across the wet grassland and main scrape from the Bunker Hide area.
Three bearded tits have been seen again on Wednesday first thing in the morning from the Reedbed Screen, flitting around the reeds. Plenty of sightings of the linnet, siskin, stonechat, reed bunting, Cettis warbler, redwing and fieldfare across the reserve. The best place is toward the top end near the railway bridge and in the surrounding scrub and crop fields.
Kestrel have been very active, catching prey in full view for the visitors and feeding on the stone wall near the Bunker Hide. Peregrine and sparrowhawk are often around we suspect disturbing the hundreds of feeding lapwing out at the back on the wet grassland area. Marsh harrier most days seen from the visitor centre, so elegant as they glide across the vegetation behind the scrape.
Our resident great white egret still around most days in the fields near the barn and the wonderful little egrets are a fantastic sight to see first thing in the morning leaving their roost around the meres heading out to the marsh to feed for the day.
The pink-footed geese are only getting more spectacular late afternoon, when thousands of them can be seen in their V formation overhead from the visitor centre heading out to the marsh to roost. The starling murmuration has been great most of the week with thousands gathering now and what looks like liquid pouring into the reedbed as the drop in for the night.
Starling murmuration and pink-footed geese scene by Paul Jubb
Stoats have stolen the show for the mammals, with multiple sightings across the reserve and even seen swimming between the islands on the main scrape.
Moths! They can often be overlooked but they are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem and are such beautiful creatures that have fascinating life cycles. Site manager Graham has been taking advantage of the mild weather we’ve had and been placing some moth traps out this week from Sunday to Wednesday with some unusual findings. Up to twenty different species of moth, highlights included unseasonably early pale brindled beauty, a late green-brindled crescent, black rustic, feathered thorn and in one trap 50 December moths.
Our salt marsh area between Burton Mere Wetlands to Parkgate is a great place to spend some time early morning and at dusk. There are two male hen harriers out there now with at least two (ringtail), female or immature hen harriers. Short-eared owl, marsh harrier and bittern are sighted regularly too. At Burton Mere Wetlands we have had a good variety of raptors showing including marsh harrier, ringtail along with multiple sightings of merlin not just from the visitor centre but perched in Gorse Covert Wood. That wood has been the place to spot woodcock if you lucky enough, we have had reports of them over the carpark and sat on the main track. So when your leaving last thing in the afternoon keep your eyes peeled as you head home.
Monday, we had a couple of eagle-eyed visitors spot a firecrest near the crop fields toward the railway bridge. At first assumed it was the more common goldcrest but then on closer inspection spotted the white eye stripe and identified it as a firecrest.
Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com) - firecrest
Our warden team have had a fun, muddy and very productive week. They have had the chainsaw out in Gorse Covert Woodland creating more fantastic children’s seating and upgrading the den building area, with our Little Explores events going well now it’s a great spot to tell stories and getting the kids inspired by nature. Tuesday the team were at Talacre helping clear and maintain the natterjack toad ponds.
Images from warden team at work Talacre by Jess Agar
Binocular and Telescope Open Day on Sunday 1 December, 10am-4pm. We'll have an expert on site to help you and advise on the best binoculars, telescopes and accessories to suit your needs.
Our next Little Explorers event is on Monday 2 December, 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.
The new December quiz trail “Christmas Nature Trail” is available any day you visit, to help families get in the festive spirit.
Sunday 8 December is our next Parkgate Raptorwatch. Come down and joins us to see if you can spot the fabulous raptors and egrets out over the marsh.
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