Wet and windy sums up the week! Nevertheless the wildlife at Burton Mere Wetlands is here to cheer us up in times of gloom.
So despite the weather, the waders and wildfowl have not disappointed. Out the back on the wet grassland area the waders have great wet habitat to feed on, so a lot of them are spending time out there. The main scrape thankfully has still had some gems like dunlin, ruff, spotted redshank, snipe, curlew, lapwing and black-tailed godwit. Reception Pool has had a return of flocks of tufted duck, individual feeding shelduck and pairs of shoveler and gadwall often out on this pool too. One of the best ducks to watch from the visitor centre are the dumpy little wigeon as they plod along the edges of the scrape feeding and chatting away, on of my favourite ducks at Burton Mere Wetlands.
Spotted redshank by Paul Jubb
Fantastic raptor sightings again this week; continuous Kestrel activity and a great place to see them perched on the power lines is from the bench beyond the Bunker Hide. Peregrine have been having a great time hunting over the main scrape, stooping and hunting at high speed across the scrape chasing black-tailed godwits and making teal dive for their life. We still have yet to figure out which bird of prey is disturbing the huge flocks of lapwing out on the wet grassland. Either way it has been spectacular and a magical scene watching them murmurate across the back of the reserve and as they separate and spread across the sky in great streams, you lose yourself and remember how special this place really is. Our spectacular marsh harrier is a regular sight gracefully floating across the vegetation at the back of the main scrape. Most days seen from the visitor centre, so elegant as they glide across the vegetation behind the scrape. Occasionally we have had (ringtail) hen harrier and if by magic as I write one is entertaining the few brave visitors out in the cold, as the wind pushes it past the visitor centre windows.
As you walk around the reserve stop as often as you can to look out for the smaller birds at this time of year, flocks of linnet, siskin, often pairs stonechat and reed bunting feeding right under the window of the visitor centre. Cetti's warbler, redwing and fieldfare still sighted this week too. Water pipit spotted during the week in the farmers field on the Bunker Hide side along with grey wagtail.
Stonechat by Paul Jubb
Our resident great white egrets are still spotted regularly across the reserve. Just popped into the Reception Pool this afternoon. One afternoon this week one landed on the main scrape as the little egrets were coming into roost for the evening in the Marsh Covert Woodland.
Salt marsh area, still great views of Short-eared owl, hen harriers and marsh harrier. If you head down to the Old Quay pub end and look across to the reedbed from 3pm onward you may see them dropping into roost for the night. During the day the rest of the marsh up to the Old Baths can be a great spot to spend time with the short-eared owl hunting during the day out there.
Gorse Covert Wood has still continued to be the place to see woodcock. When you are leaving the reserve late afternoon which at this point is almost dark from 3:30pm at the moment you may get the best view you've ever had as I did Thursday night. Sat right in front of my car dancing back and forth across the track as I tried to leave last night. A few of our visitors have been lucky enough to spot them this week so keep them in mind when you head carefully down the track next time you leave.
This weeks star sighting for us at Burton Mere Wetlands was the multiple great views of merlin. Either perched just enjoying the view for us to watch or zipping past the main window over Reception Pool super close.
Merlin from Marsh Covert Hide by Tom Giles
As we are still a warden down at the moment it has been a fantastic effort as ever by the warden team this week. Chipping away at all the little maintenance jobs. Matt our newest residential volunteer took up the reins again and led another work party for us. They were hard at it clearing all the rest of the fallen leaves out of the car park. Liz and other members of the team have been busy too, cutting back hanging branches, repairing shelves in Marsh Covert Hide, mending gates and other general upkeep to the visitor centre facilities.
Our next Little Explorers event is on Monday 16 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.
December quiz trail “Christmas Nature Trail” is available any day you visit, to help families get in the festive spirit.
Join us on this exclusive early morning, behind-the-scenes walk to get closer to the managed farmland parts of the reserve, early booking advised for our Big Farmland Bird Walk on 5 January 8-10am Price: £10 per person / £8 RSPB members.
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.
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