Happy New Year to everyone from the Dee Estuary team.
It has been a brilliantly busy start to our year at Burton Mere Wetlands. For starters this week we’ve had the water pipit that had been somewhat elusive in December, now a good spot to look out for it is from the Gorse Covert Woodland. From the bench there is a view looking across to the farmers muck heaps where it seems to like to hide behind. Spotted redshank, not seen in great numbers onsite was sighted on new year’s day along with some of our more shy individuals like water rail, kingfisher, bearded tit and green woodpecker in the week too!
Green woodpecker by Gwen Earlam
Other highlights for the new year have been some exciting views of raptors like kestrel still hunting over the ditch between Reception Pool and the main scrape, giving us fantastic views from the Visitor Centre. Equally good sightings of buzzard, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, peregrine and merlin hunting around the reserve on a daily basis. The saltmarsh area between Burton Mere Wetlands and Parkgate is a wonderful place to stroll along and hopefully spot hen harrier, short-eared owl and bittern.
Merlin by Colin Wells
The great white egret and little egret can also be found out on the saltmarsh feeding during the day but don't be surprised to see them feeding in our ditches and pools here on the Burton Mere Wetlands part of the reserve.
There are still other winter visitors about to add to any new lists like redwing, fieldfare, stonechat, linnet, siskin and always scan those big flocks you never know what little gem you may pick out!
We may mention the below waterfowl and wader species most weeks at the moment and it may seem like they are common but they are really a glorious lot at this time of year and it is a great testament to the work we have been able to achieve because of continued and new support over the last 40 years at the Dee Estuary. We certainly do not get bored of seeing them every week and for me watching the colourful wigeon as they graze along the edges of the scrape every morning is a privilege. The other usual beautiful suspects include teal, shoveler, gadwall, shelduck, pintail, black-tailed godwit, curlew, dunlin, ruff, redshank, and snipe, now showing well very close on the edges of the Reception Pool. Friday late afternoon we had a spectacular sight of thousands of pink-footed geese flying overhead all at the same time, luckily there was still some visitors here on the decking to catch the breath-taking view of them heading out to the marsh for the night.
Pink-footed geese by Paul Jubb
We have been doing the odd moth trap, which may seem strange to do in Winter but there are still moths about at this time of year and as we have had some particularly mild and dry nights we managed to get a few highlights including spring usher on the Winter solstice, plenty of winter moths and mottled umber and the odd red green carpet and dark chestnut.
Our stoats are still bounding around being quite entertaining from the Visitor Centre and along the paths as they dart across surprising the visitors.
For us at Burton Mere Wetlands having a male pochard is a bit of a rarity, so it was a great start to the new year when the site manager Graham Jones spotted one on Thursday on the Bridge Pool. Luckily it has stayed around for a few days which has meant a good number of our visitors have been able to spot it.
Male pochard by John Hewitt Wardens’ wanderings
Apart from the warden team helping out in the Visitor Centre this festive period they have also been getting back into their routines jobs like filling the pot holes along the main track, reserve site checks, data recording and some mucky maintenance jobs like scrubbing benches, bridges and posts to keep them in good condition.
When you pop into Burton Mere Wetlands Visitor Centre we have the new January quiz trail out “Big Garden Birdwatch" to help get you ready for your Big Garden Birdwatch of your own at the end of the month. Along with the quiz trail we also have Winter Backpacks to hire for the kids to take out and get adventurous.
Sunday 19 January is our get ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch event. In support of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and prepare you for your own birdwatch next weekend (25-27 January 2020), pop along to this hands-on event at the reserve. Our knowledgeable team will be on hand to assist with garden bird identification to help you prepare for your birdwatch in your own garden, green space or school grounds.
Sunday 12 January 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.
Join us for our first Parkgate Tidewatch of the year on Tuesday 11 February and Wednesday 12 February between 10.30am-2.30pm. 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 then brings in the likes of short-eared owls, hen harriers, marsh harriers and any other spectacular raptors.
I've still not seen the Water Pipit I will have to keep trying!
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