We continue to have several hundred lapwings gathering in groups swirling around over the reserve, along with growing numbers of teal, wigeon, shoveler and this week a small number of pintail dotted around the pools. There’s been good numbers of snipe especially on the main scrape and groups of curlew dropping in to feed.
The estuary's wintering raptors are taking advantage, with up to two peregrines and three marsh harriers regularly hunting over the scrape and wet grassland. A ringtail hen harrier is still a regular sight, often flying close in front of the visitor centre windows giving our visitors a thrill and leaving a scattering of panicked waders in its wake.
Peregrine hunting teal (John Hewitt)
The starlings have been coming into roost in the reedbed in their thousands, with one count estimating up to 10,000! We were treated on Tuesday at around 3.30pm to a spectacular murmuration! There were two big groups that joined together to give us an amazing display creating lots of shapes and movements in the sky before diving down into the reedbed. Large flocks of bird often attract hunting raptors, and both sparrowhawk and hen harrier have been seen trying their luck.
Roosting starlings at sunset (David King)
Water pipit, bullfinch, pochard, jack snipe, kingfisher and up to 200 linnets are amongst this week's notable birds, whilst a stoat has been seen a couple of times close to the bird feeders near the visitor centre decking.
Star sighting of the week
The bearded tits, at least two, were confirmed to be still present in the reedbed after a few days of no reports. Reedbed Screen seems the best place to stake out, and patient visitors have been treated to good views of water rail and kingfisher there whilst waiting.
This week the assistant warden Liz and volunteers did a great job of clearing out the dragonfly ponds and continuing the essential maintenance to the access ramp. Some preparation work was done ready for contractors working on site next week - watch this space to find out what they're doing!
Come down and get into the festive spirit with our Christmas themed self-led family quiz trail which will be running throughout December. It’s free of charge with normal entry fees applying for non-members.
Our next Raptorwatch event takes place on Sunday 9 December at Parkgate Old Baths carpark. The event runs from 1pm til dusk and we'll be on hand to help you spot the many marsh harriers and potential peregrines, plus recently both short-eared and barn owls have put on great shows in broad daylight. There's also two bitterns wintering on that part of the reserve, and five or six hen harriers coming to roost on the marsh there at sunset.
Follow this link for more information https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/events-dates-and-inspiration/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-458926
We're fast approaching the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch in January, so we have our annual Big Farmland Bird Walk, offering the rare chance to walk through Burton Mere Wetlands' farmed areas to get closer to the resident wildlife. Not only does this walk offer behind the scenes and early access but also chance to see large flocks of farmland birds such as linnet and reed buntings which can attract merlins, sparrowhawks and hen harriers to hunt. The walk should also give good views of wild geese and swans that often go into adjacent fields. The event Is on Sunday 6 January from 8-10 am.
For more information and to book a place please follow the link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/big-farmland-bird-walk-tickets-51655190064
If nothing more, don't forget our visitor centre is a perfect place whatever the weather to enjoy fantastic winter wildlife spectacles - even if you don't fancy braving the weather for a walk - complete with a roaring fire, hot drinks and various food items to buy.
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