A wealth of waders have decorated the reserve this week, with the breeding avocets gathering for migration, lapwings and redshank joined by south-bound black-tailed godwits, a couple of greenshank, single common and green sandpipers on Reception Pool, plus occasional ruff, little ringed plover, dunlin and snipe on the main scrape - all whetting the appetite for this year's Wirral Wader Festival, being held here on the weekend of 31 August and 1 September.
Also on the main scrape, the Mediterranean gulls have been showing themselves better after a tricky few weeks trying to see them amidst the dense island greenery; up to three well-grown chicks with three adults at the peak.
On Tuesday, a juvenile cuckoo was spotted being fed by reed warblers at the corner of the reedbed near the egret viewpoint, whilst the great crested grebe pair on Bridge Pool have at least one chick at the time of writing.
A single common tern has enjoyed feeding frequently on Reception Pool, giving superb acrobatic performances close in front of the visitor centre. Marsh harrier is becoming a daily sighting once more, with regular peregrine and sparrowhawk views this week, plus a family of little owls has fledged young near the hillfort on Burton Point.
Little egrets are beginning to fledge young, who tend to lounge around near the the Marsh Covert hide in their early weeks, with occasional views of cattle egret and great egret in and around Marsh Covert woodland. The spoonbills haven't been seen at Burton Mere Wetlands for a while, but there's a growing number, up to six, on the saltmarsh part of the reserve, often showing at Parkgate.
Little egret lounge (Paul Jubb)
Despite the changeable weather, a good range of butterflies have been seen, namely painted lady, ringlet, red admiral, gatekeeper, meadow brown, small skipper, comma, plus lots of five-spot burnet moths. Similarly, there's an increasing amount of dragonfly activity now with brown hawker, black-tailed skimmer and four-spotted chaser around, along with common blue and blue-tailed damselflies.
Red admiral butterfly (Paul Jubb)
Common lizards are still found basking on the wooden fence at the beginning of the Reedbed trail, and we've had a number of stoat sightings including one on the edge of Reception Pool in front of the visitor centre.
The pick of the week was indeed another wader - the tremendous Terek sandpiper that turned up on Tuesday evening, prompting a local twitch and an extended evening opening to allow people to see the bird before dark. An early opening followed at 7am on Wednesday, when the bird was still present for a matter of minutes before making a hasty exit to the disappointment of many birders travelling from further afield. This was a first record for the reserve, and only the third for Cheshire, and a long way from it's migratory route from eastern Scandinavia through eastern Europe.
Terek sandpiper (Allan Conlin)
The warden team have yet again been busy with usual summer vegetation cutting, including a tidy up of the car park borders, plus replacing an edging board on the Burton Mere trail just out from the visitor centre.
New signs have gone up across the site including on the hides to show the reserve closing time, plus a new bench has been installed at the Burton Point viewpoint for an even more relaxing place to admire the landscape and even eat your lunch.
New sign on Inner Marsh Farm hide (A.Grubb)
The bench on Burton Point (A.Grubb)
A trip to Neston Reedbed on Wednesday confirmed the pair of marsh harriers have fledged at least two chicks, along with frequent trips to Point of Ayr to check the electric fence around the shingle spit and monitor for nesting little terns as there has been in recent years.
The end of the week saw a little mowing and electric fence erection in preparation for the return this weekend of the cattle to graze the wet grassland. They'll be hard to miss as they'll be initially focussed around the main scrape, and may well lead to better cattle egret views as we've experienced in prior years.
There's plenty going on in the next couple of weeks to get excited about; first up is our next Wildlife Wander with volunteer Richard on Wednesday. Booking not essential, you can just turn up ready for the 10am start.
It is with great excitement we have received our limited edition 40th Anniversary pin badge, which will go on sale exclusively from the reserve at our launch event next Sunday. Those amongst you who don't like surprises won't thank us for keeping the identity of the badge under wraps for now!
The beginning of August sees our weekly Badgerwatch walks begin, plus a huge weekend of family fun with our Big Wild Sleepout with plenty of spaces still available. Plus don't forget there's our Wild Challenge quiz trail every day with July's all about butterflies.
Finally, we've got ice creams back on sale in the visitor centre thanks to the excellent Marshfield Farm; six fantastic flavours plus one dairy-free sorbet to choose between, let's hope the sun does it's job and gets us in the mood for trying them!
Marshfield Farm ice cream
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