Whilst some people lament the passing of summer, the Dee Estuary enters arguably its most exciting time of year due to the arrival of vast flocks of birds returning from their Arctic breeding grounds.
The RSPB is inviting visitors to take part in a series of events across their Dee Estuary nature reserve to share some of the most impressive natural spectacles in this region.
Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager for RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: “I’m a huge fan of autumn, it could even be my favourite season of the year. The reserve here comes into its own, supporting thousands of wetland birds as they swap the cold Arctic for our warmer climes. High tides make for some excellent wildlife watching too, pushing the vast swathes of wildfowl and wading birds into closer view along with the birds of prey that hunt them.”
To experience the growing flocks on the estuary, drop-in to the ‘Tidewatch’ event on Tuesday 9 October at the Donkey Stand on Parkgate promenade. RSPB staff and volunteers will be on hand with telescopes and binoculars to enhance the impressive views. Suitable for people of all ages and abilities, the event is free of charge, but donations are welcome. Timings vary depending on the tides, so visit rspb.org.uk/parkgate for more details.
Meanwhile, with earlier sunsets - another special autumn attraction on the Wirral - it becomes easier to witness the daily spectacle of the endangered hen harriers flying to roost on the marsh off Parkgate. Head to a ‘Raptorwatch’ event at the Old Baths car park, off Boathouse Lane, for the chance of seeing up to seven different types of birds of prey that make their home on the estuary in winter, plus northern England’s largest little egret colony flying in from the marsh to their night-time roost. The events take place on the second Sunday of each month until March, starting Sunday 14 October, and run from 1pm until sunset.
Elsewhere, the heart of the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve, Burton Mere Wetlands, is renowned for its growing flocks and wide variety of wading birds at this time of year as they move through on their long migrations. Families visiting the site can enjoy the ‘Wonderful Waders’ Wild Challenge quiz trail to learn about these birds. The trail is available between 9.30am and 3.30pm every day through October free of charge, normal admission charges apply for non members.
October also sees the return of Wirral Wader Festival, a partnership event between Wader Quest, the RSPB, Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens, and Cheshire Wildlife Trust, now in its fourth year. Over the weekend of Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October, the event aims to showcase the spectacle of wading birds on the protected Wirral coast with various events and activities at Hoylake and West Kirby. For full details of the events and activities during the festival, visit wirralwaderfestival.blogspot.co.uk or www.facebook.com/wirralwaderfest.
Dan added: “You don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher to appreciate the vast numbers of birds that call the Dee their home at this time of year. These upcoming events are planned to showcase these awesome natural occurrences and show why it’s so important for the RSPB to keep almost half of the estuary under its protection. These spectacles are perfect to wow families, and kids will love kicking fallen leaves and a bit of den building at Burton Mere Wetlands. So pop on an extra layer or two, and come along, we’d love to see you!”
For further information on events and wildlife at RSPB Dee Estuary, visit rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands.