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Our woodland is a sea of violet-blue flowers, English bluebells are now in full bloom bringing their sweet delicate scent to the Gorse Covert Woodland trail.
English bluebells by Helen Bannister
The reserve is alive with youngsters at the moment. Our avocets are doing well with 25 chicks from 9 broods wandering around the scrape in front of the reception hide, giving clear views all day of these amazing birds. With many more adult birds still sat on their nests these numbers will hopefully increase daily.
Recent sightings on the reserve include the return of a female marsh harrier and 4 drake garganey. A cuckoo has been seen and heard, a pair of common tern are constantly on the scrape and using the mere pools to fish. The reed beds are full of warblers with reed, sedge, grasshopper and cetti's singing beautifully, blackcap and whitethroat can be heard all around the paths with the occasional lesser whitethroat spotted too. Hobby, whimbrel, ruff, dunlin and little owl are being seen daily as are stoats and weasels.
Join us on Friday 22 May for our Burton history walk on which you will hear all about the history of the land that now forms Burton Mere Wetlands and the surrounding area. Booking is essential, there are a few places left, to find out more please follow the link.
Posted by Helen B
Our first avocet has arrived at the reserve, a good sign that Spring is on its way.
The high tides last week were as spectacular as usual on the Dee Estuary with the 10m tides reaching the wall at Parkgate.
The views of the 5 short-eared owls hunting were a highlight along with the 2 ringtail hen harriers and large numbers of pink-footed geese.
Recent sightings on the reserve include a long-eared owl which has been roosting in the same place on most days over the last 3 weeks,
2 water rail in front of the reception hide, 2 ringtail hen harriers hunt daily over the scrape, green woodpecker, avocet, great white egret, pintail, ruff, dunlin,
black-tailed godwit, kingfisher, oystercatcher and merlin.
In the evenings we are being treated to the amazing spectacle of 4000 plus pink-footed geese flying over the reserve from the Shotwick fields
heading towards the Dee Estuary for the night.
Winter has arrived, with the first snow flurries falling at the reserve and snow on the Welsh hills visible from the reception hide.
Recent sightings on the reserve have included two ring tail hen harriers, brilliant to have these stunning birds back for the winter months on the estuary, two marsh harriers which are still on the estuary and hopefully will be for a while yet, a cattle egret which first appeared on the reserve in early September, 100+ golden plover, curlew sandpiper, redshank, a pair of mandarin, kingfisher which is seen daily at the back of the mere, water rail which can be often viewed along the edges of the reed beds, merlin, peregrine, teal, whooper swans and pink-footed geese.
Upcoming events include...
Plant a tree for Christmas on Saturday 20th December, come along and plant a small tree in our Gorse covert woodland.
Twelve birds of Burton Mere Christmas trail, follow the clues around the Mere trail, pick up a quiz sheet from the reception hide.
Skydancers on the Dee, join us at Parkgate on Sunday 21st December to find out about the hen harrier with staff and volunteers on hand to show you these beautiful birds.
Meet Harry the hen harrier. He is currently on the decking outside our reception building.
Harry is the wonderful creation of Findlay Wilde, aged 12 from Cheshire, and his father for their village scarecrow festival earlier this year. He is made from a variety of materials including insulation boards and roofing felt.
Findlay is a keen birder and a big supporter of the RSPB's Skydancer project, which is helping to raise awareness and conservation of hen harriers in Northern England, and Findlay wanted his scarecrow to reflect this. He also writes a regular blog about his birding called Wilde About Birds.
In mid-August, the inaugural Hen Harrier Day was established by BAWC (Birders Against Wildlife Crime), Findlay and his family attended the event in the Peak District, and took Harry along as a mascot which served to attract lots of attention.
The following weekend, Harry was used on the RSPB stand at the annual Birdfair event at Rutland Water in Leicestershire. After that, Harry ended up at The Lodge and it was Findlay's idea for it to be brought to the Dee Estuary reserve as this is his closest reserve and one of the hotspots for hen harriers in the Winter months. Harry arrived on Monday 13 October and is set to stay until spring, apart from a brief flight to Leighton Moss for an appearance on BBC Autumnwatch later this month.
Come along to Parkgate and join us for our Skydancers on the Dee events, there will be staff and volunteers on hand to show you these beautiful birds hunting over the marsh. We will be there on one Sunday each month until March 15, follow the link to see the full list of dates.
Latest sightings here on the Dee Estuary have included a male hen harrier and 2 ringtails.
Next time you visit Burton Mere Wetlands why not take a "selfie" photo with Harry? You can upload your selfie to twitter and share it with @WildeAboutBirds and #HenHarriers. We look forward to seeing them.
A very busy week on the reserve with bird numbers increasing. A count of 1,800 teal gathering from Northern Europe and 1,600 pink-footed geese arriving from their breeding ground in the Arctic Circle and Greenland. As the days are now starting off chilly we are lighting the fire in the reception building to allow for birdwatching in the warm, a great place to sit with a cup of tea to start the day in comfort.
The cattle egret is still here, arriving on 3 september. These birds which are smaller than a little egret and have a bright yellow bill are usually resident in France and Spain but after breeding will randomly disperse and wander during Autumn and Winter.
Sightings this week include grey wagtail, little stint, 2 x marsh harriers, hen harrier, 7 x avocets, merlin, 7 x whooper swans, and green sandpiper. Just in front of reception hide have been a couple of water rail, always amazing to see these small birds close up.
Upcoming events include Skydancers on the Dee, Sunday 26 October - Sunday 29 March 2015. In support of the RSPB's Skydancer project, we will be bringing you a series of events to show you these amazing birds of prey which use the Dee Estuary marshes as their home for the Winter months. The events are free and are from 12 noon - dusk, please click on the link for more information and full list of dates.
The wonderful season of Autumn is upon us, the leaves are tumbling from the trees and the nights are drawing in. This serves as a timely reminder that our car park will now be closing
a little earlier at 7pm which should still give you time in the evening to come and enjoy the last of the autumnal daylight.
Last weekend we celebrated our 3rd birthday. Some say you can’t have your cake and eat it, well we did! Lots of cake was eaten, plenty of fun kids activities including den building
in the woods, making bird feeders, and our ever popular nature trail were enjoyed.
Recent sightings on the reserve include - Cattle egret which has been with us for a month now, little stint, golden plover, spotted redshank, wheatear, kingfisher, marsh harrier, greenshank and ruff.
Upcoming events -
We still have places on the Liverbird discovery cruise on saturday 4th October, booking essential.
Join us for Parkgate high tide watch on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 October. Meeting at the Donkey Stand on Parkgate promenade, RSPB staff will
be on hand to show you the delights of this amazing spectacle.
Autumn arrivals guided walk at Point of Ayr on Saturday 11 October 12pm-2:30pm, booking essential.
We have been so busy this week as we have had some very exciting birds around the reserve.
Photo thanks to Anthony Lovatt
On Wednesday a cattle egret appeared on the scrape along with a little stint, Thursday morning we arrived on the reserve to the sight of a juvenile red-necked phalarope, Saturday brought us a pectoral sandpiper and on sunday 3 curlew sandpiper, all of which were still here on sunday afternoon.
We have also had views most of the week of a great white egret, spotted redshank, ruff, hen harrier, marsh harrier and greenshank, whilst the kingfisher has been showing its hovering skills again.
We still have a couple of places for our guided bat walk on friday 12 september, booking is essential.
We have just had some new additions to the reserve, 44 cows from the neighbouring farm have been given the freedom of the scrape. They are there to graze on the vegetation and to help with the ecology of the area.
Our kingfishers have been giving plenty of pleasure to our visitors over the last few weeks. Daily sightings from the reception building and around the mere of these colourful birds have been the highlight of many visits. The sight of a kingfisher hovering over the waters edge is amazing.
The little egrets are evening visitors at this time of year, just before dusk they are returning in high numbers to the reserve having spent their day out on the marsh. Over 120 were counted gathering by marsh covert hide last week before they all headed off as one to their roosting area in the tall trees by the mere.
Sightings this week have included ruff, greenshank, hobby, pintail, yellow wagtail, spotted flycatcher, hen harrier and marsh harrier. The clouded yellow butterfly has been spotted too, a rarity for the reserve.
Join us at Parkgate for the High Tide Watches on Wednesday 10 September and Thursday 11 September. Two days of exceptional high tides providing unusual views of a beautiful part of the Dee Estuary, with both birds and wildlife being moved closer to the coastline by the incoming water. Click here for more information including the tide times on these days.
Like bats? If so join us on Friday 12 September for our popular guided bat walk, booking is essential. Prices, times and how to book can be found here.
It is Burton Mere Wetlands 3rd birthday soon! On the weekend of Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28th September we will be celebrating. Come along and join us, its free entry for all.
Porzana porzana - photo © Marek Szczepanek
An exciting time on the reserve with the appearance of a pair of spotted crakes on 31st July, with two black fluffy chicks on the back of the main scrape, in front of the reception hide. Since the discovery of a singing male crake in mid-May reserve staff have been out late at night monitoring its distinctive whip lash song. Occasional sightings of adult birds occurred in July and we suspected that there was a good chance that these elusive and very rare birds were breeding on the reserve. So as you can imagine when a couple of regular visiting birdwatchers reported that they had seen two adults with two chicks, the reserve team were delighted. The news was put out and many birders managed to see this very rare occurrence of spotted crake chicks and first confirmed breeding for the reserve. Unfortunately the birds have not been seen in the last couple of weeks but hopes are still high that they will appear again soon.
Spotted crakes have bred in the area in the past, the area that we know as Burton Mere Wetlands was historically called Burton or Puddington bog and at one time was operated as a wildfowl shoot by Palethorpes the pig people. During this period in the 1930’s spotted crakes were documented as having nested in the area. Just before world war two, bore holes were installed by Shotton steelworks resulting in the lowering of the water table which then allowed the whole area to be drained and converted into intensive arable land. RSPB acquired part of the area in the 1980’s and with the reduction in water abstraction were able to start work in restoring the land back into wetland. With suitable habitat re-created at Inner Marsh Farm it was not long before spotted crakes were recorded on the reserve and over the years males have been heard singing on several occasions.
Let’s hope that this is not just a one off and they become regular breeders on the reserve, so allowing visitors to see this enigmatic bird for years to come.
Colin Wells - Site Manager
Grid reference: SJ3173 (+2km)
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