As winter draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the past couple of months that have passed by in a blur. Memorable not only for being milder than the previous few, but also for the severe storms which whilst damaging to some parts of the country’s coastline, have delivered some superb wildlife spectacles on the reserve, at Parkgate and the other more exposed parts of the estuary. Burton Mere Wetlands’ flock of whooper swans headed for the North almost a month ago, and now as the last pink-footed geese, teal and wigeon depart, the days lengthen and temperatures rise, our summer visitors return to brighten the mood.
Since the arrival of the first avocets on February 26, the numbers have risen steadily into the sixties, with over forty visible from Burton Mere Wetlands’ reception building as I write this, beginning to pair. The first chiffchaffs, and an early willow warbler, are being heard along the trails, and a handful of small tortoiseshell butterflies have spread their wings in the spring sunshine.
Grey herons provided great entertainment as they were busy nest-building and shortly, their unusual chorus will drift down from Marsh Covert as their breeding, along with the impressive little egret colony, begins in earnest. Great spotted woodpeckers flash between the oaks and alders, and even if not seen, their characteristic drumming often fills the morning air.
Behind the scenes this winter, we’ve been working hard on the completion of the Reed and Fen trail which will connect Burton Mere Wetlands to the old Inner Marsh Farm reserve; if you’ve visited you will probably have noticed the gradual appearance of new willow screening, a wooden footbridge, then an earth bund.
The final touches to the path, along with some other exciting developments including a new viewing screen overlooking the reedbed, will be happening this coming week, which unfortunately means the entire Reed & Fen Trail and Marsh Covert hide will be closed to visitors from Monday 24 March for up to five days. The reception building, Burton Mere trail, Gorse Covert Woodland trail and Inner Marsh Farm will be open as normal throughout the week.
We apologise for any inconvenience, but this essential work will substantially extend the reserve’s trail network, and open up a part of the reserve never previously accessible to visitors, improving Burton Mere Wetlands for everyone, forever.