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Recent sightings

  • 7 September 2014

    What a busy week we have had...

    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.

    Posted by Helen B

  • 31 August 2014

    Mooving through...

    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 wagtailspotted 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.

    Posted by Helen B

  • 25 August 2014

    Return of the crakes

    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

    Posted by Helen B

  • 21 July 2014

    Nature trail fun

    Our new nature trail is up and running and already being enjoyed by all the family. You will learn fun facts about species of birds and other wildlife found on the reserve. Pick up an entry sheet from the reception before heading off around the trail. Bring your smart phone along too, you can learn extra facts by scanning the QR codes on the trail sheets, you can download a scanning app before you visit. As the summer holidays arrive we have many things to keep children and adults busy, what better way to spend a few hours than enjoying the beauty of the nature reserve. Will you complete our trail, find the answer and earn a certificate?

    Our wardens have been busy clearing the views. The reed warblers and sedge warblers have finished nesting now so we are able to cut back the reeds at the reed bed screen exposing the view we have been missing for the last month or two.

    Sightings this week on the scrape have included common sandpiper, green sandpiper, spotted redshank, snipe, avocet, dunlin and ruff whilst hobby have been seen flying over the fields close by.

    Butterflies on the reserve have included a countless number of gatekeeper or hedge brown as many people prefer to call it. A beautiful butterfly with its bright orange and brown wings and distinctive black and white eyespot. A joy to see at this time of the year.

    Up and coming events include The big wild sea watch on Sat 26 July. Join the Coastal Rangers, staff from the RSPB and Hilbre Bird Observatory for a day on Hilbre looking for seabirds, wading birds and cetaceans that inhabit our wonderful coast. Booking is essential. Please follow the link...

    Posted by Helen B

  • 13 July 2014

    Whatever next?

    It is that time of the year when you just don't know whats going to show up next. This weeks sightings have included Little Ringed Plover, Common Tern, Greenshank, SnipeKingfisher and Dunlin with great views of Ruff, Common Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank on the scrape, the anticipation of what might arrive next is growing daily!

    We have Little Egrets a plenty on the Marsh Covert Hide pool, with youngsters now learning their fishing skills from the adults. With a recent count at the pool of over 50, it is a fabulous site to see.

    The beautiful Water Lilies are still in flower on the Mere, Moorhen chicks can be seen running across the Lily pads in quite a comical way. All around the shades of the Mere are the delicate pink hues of Herb Robert. A member of the Geranium family they create a fragile contrast to the sturdy Lilies.

    Flowers mean butterflies, and on the Reserve Gatekeeper, Painted Lady, Small White, Meadow Brown and Ringlet are amongst the ever growing list being seen. Also at the moment there a large number of Dragonflies and Damselflies adding colour and noise to the pathways as you walk around.

    Our resident Stoats are out and about most days, giving entertainment to our visitors, with youngsters (kits) playing in the sunshine on the boardwalk paths.

    Posted by Helen B

  • 1 July 2014

    Moorhen antics

    Our Kingfishers have returned! Having been away for a few months to breed they are back and adding a colourful streak as they fly past.

     Other sightings this week include Water Rail, Snipe, Common Sandpiper and a Spotted Crake which has been heard for a while but not seen until now.

     Welcome visitors to the bird feeder were a pair of Greenfinch, not seen on the reserve for a few years. A disease called Trichomonosis has had a substantial impact on their numbers. It is caused by a parasite and was first seen in finches in the UK in 2005. Really nice to see them back.


    Our Moorhen chicks are growing quickly with their parents providing much entertainment in the reception building. Adults are climbing the reeds to get to the seed heads. As you can imagine a grown Moorhen can be a little heavy for a reed stalk...


    Posted by Helen B

  • 23 June 2014

    Midsummer Marvels

    The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout has been and gone with everyone involved enjoying the event. We could not have asked for a better evening, the weather was perfect. Whilst adults erected tents the children built woodland dens. Soon everyone took part in a variety of activities including pond dipping and Bat detecting. Moth experts were on hand during the evening, illuminating the trees to collect many species for us to study. We all made it to Burton Point to watch the setting sun.


    Join us for our next event Burton History Walk on Sunday 29 June. Booking is essential for this guided walk of approximately 3 miles. You will learn, amongst other things, about the Iron Age hill fort which is on the reserve.


    Our Water Lilies on the Mere are now opening and looking amazing, they will be giving a great show for a while yet so come along for a look.


    Our recent sighting of a Red-necked Phalarope caused much interest and regular views of a pair of Hobby never fail to impress. Dragonflies and Damselflies are a beautiful addition at this time of year with Broad-bodied Chaser and Blue-tailed included in the many species found here. Keep a look out too for our resident Common Lizards which bask in the sun on the wooden fences.


    Don't forget the car park closing time is now 9pm, giving plenty of time on these glorious summer evenings to enjoy and explore the beautiful and ever changing reserve.

    Posted by Helen B

  • 23 March 2014

    An overdue update and advanced notice of temporary closures

    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.

    Posted by Dan Trotman

  • 21 November 2013

    Winter Wonderland

    Just a quick post to keep everyone updated on the recent goings-on at Burton Mere Wetlands and the Wild Wirral "Date with Nature" events, which are now gathering momentum as the winter wildlife increases in numbers. The deteriorating weather conditions are great for the wildlife spectacle across the Wirral as large flocks of waders gather across the north Wirral foreshore, the Hen Harriers increase in numbers on Parkgate marsh, as well as the arrival of the first Bewick swan of the year.

    The autumn months have been busy at the reserve with half term activities, which included bird feeder making, den building and the dissection of owl pellets - exciting stuff for family visitors! A well attended "Autumn Amble" certainly marked the start of Autumn here with cooler days and the mass fall of leaves in our woodlands.

    In early November, John - our Wild Wirral Information Assistant - was present at Parkgate Old Baths car park for three days of high tide events. These offered a great natural spectacle with mass movement of geese, wading birds, as well as the hunting birds of prey taking full advantage of the ample food available to them. Given the low atmospheric pressure and high winds, the 9.8m tide forecast for Tuesday crept to the wall at the Old Baths bringing the wildlife spectacle even closer to those who braved the weather - for many, it was the first time they had witnessed the marsh being completely inundated by the incoming tide, and were thrilled by the frenzy of birds that ensued. Fingers crossed for a repeat of this during the high tide eventsin early December!

    Although the days are becoming shorter and colder, it is no excuse to avoid making the most of the winter arrivals around the reserve. All through November, Burton Mere Wetlands has been running ‘Taster Thursdays’ which allows free admission for everyone and a free guided walk at 1pm, as well as a warm welcome at the reception hide with the stove to thaw your fingers after the walk, even on the coldest of days. Around the reserve the winter migration is underway with the arrival of various geese, ducks and whooper swans, fieldfare, redwing and the like in the fields - so why not make the most of the Taster Thursdays for your chance to have these species pointed out. Recent highlights of birds that aren't our "usual suspects" include a great white egret, seen once on the main scrape at Burton Mere Wetlands, and an adult male marsh harrier regularly hunting over the wet grassland and reedbed.

    For a full list of Wild Wirral "Date with Nature" events, follow this link to the events page:

    At the reserve, we've got an upcoming guided walk onto Burton Point:

    Also, we're doing a guided walk at Point of Ayr in early December:

    Posted by Dan Trotman

Your sightings

Grid reference: SJ2778 (+2km)

Great White Egret (1)
9 Sep 2014
Water Rail (1)
30 Sep 2014
Black-tailed Godwit (4)
30 Sep 2014
Greenshank (8)
30 Sep 2014
Grey Wagtail (3)
28 Sep 2014
Pink-footed Goose (35)
22 Sep 2014
Spotted Redshank ()
18 Sep 2014
Firecrest (1)
16 Sep 2014
Little Egret (2)
30 Sep 2014
Sparrowhawk (1)
30 Sep 2014

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 53.302495,-3.091627
  • Grid reference: SJ273789
  • Nearest town: Neston, Cheshire
  • County: Cheshire
  • Country: England

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