Last week saw the Dee Estuary staff team grow by one, as we welcomed our new Information Assistant, John Langley, who will be showcasing the spectacular wildlife around the estuary and the Wirral during this winter contract. This latest blog was written by John, to whom I hope you'll give a warm welcome if and when you come across one of his events in the coming months:
"I would like take this opportunity to introduce myself as I have recently become a part of the Dee Estuary team, in the role of Information Assistant. I am a recent MSc graduate of Bangor University where I studied Conservation and Land Management having this opportunity to encourage public engagement with nature, as a part of an RSPB “Date with Nature” project, is really exciting for me. As a long-term Wirral resident, I am passionate about the wildlife on my doorstep, and would like to introduce you to what the area has to offer at Parkgate, Hoylake, Hilbre Island, New Brighton and beyond. You may have seen me at Parkgate last weekend where I was introducing members of the public to the different species found out on the marsh. The large flocks of Black-Tailed Godwits (1000+ on 7/10/13) on the Donkey Stand Flash have already impressed many people. The other species seen at Parkgate over the last weekend include a hunting peregrine, redshank, kestrel, sparrowhawk, little egret, grey heron, a short eared owl far out in the estuary, and a male and female hen harrier near to the Old Baths car park.
One of the many events I will be running is “Skydancers on the Dee”, so the fact that hen harriers have already been seen there this autumn is fantastic. The Skydancer events will be running from this weekend (12/10/13) and every other weekend through the winter. Given the serious decline of the species, largely as a result of illegal persecution, the long-term survival of hen harriers is threatened, making this winter potentially one of the last times such an enigmatic bird is seen on the Dee Estuary. We will be set up at the Donkey Stand in Parkgate with telescopes, binoculars and family activities to raise awareness for the persecuted species and will aim to give everyone the opportunity to see the magnificent species before it may be too late. The event will be running from midday until dusk where we will hope to see the hen harries come in to roost, and I will enjoy showing as many people as possible this charismatic species.
A very busy 2nd birthday celebration weekend, of family activities, cake sales, and guided walks at Burton Mere Wetlands ended the month of September before the arrival of migratory species. The lakes and scrapes around Burton Mere Wetlands are beginning to fill with Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and a range of geese. The arrival of a Pectoral Sandpiper has caused a stir, as well as three late avocets. Curlew Sandpipers have been showing well in small groups at both Burton Mere Wetlands and from Inner Marsh Farm hide, with ruff and spotted redshank becoming common sightings in recent days. This morning a fleeting visit by a water rail in the reception pool will hopefully result in another winter of cracking views of the bird from the visitors centre. For now, the kingfishers are regularly seen flying and perching around the reception pool and giving visitors the opportunity to see and photograph another enigmatic species that we are lucky enough to have on the reserve.
I am looking forward to meeting and talking to as many people as possible over the coming months at the Skydancer events (starting 12th October), high tide watches at Hoylake (next one 19th October), and Tea on Hilbre (30th November), plus many more events to be advertised so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page (search RSPB North West England)."