The views from reception hide have had some great autumn visitors recently with kingfisher, spoonbill, whooper swans, floods of pink-footed geese, marsh harrier, peregrine, sparrowhawk, merlin, kestrel and hen harrier that has been showing really well across the site and up close and personal in front of reception hide.
Inner Marsh Farm and Marsh covert hide have both had a good share of the waders this week, little stint, green sandpiper, black-tailed godwits, lapwing, ruff, redshank, snipe, dunlin, and the curlew sandpipers all around most days and a raven, water rail, at Marsh Covert Hide.
Numbers of wintering ducks doing really well with shoveler, teal, shelduck, tufted, pintail and 10 gadwall across the reserve.
We still have 2 cattle egret, lots of little egret and several great white egret across the site. Growing numbers of the wintering finch flocks starting to build now with brambling, 40+ linnet, greenfinch and siskin. Stonechat seen regularly balancing on the tops of the brambles in front of reception hide.
Hen harrier (J.Hewitt)
The reception feeders still the best place to see great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, and green woodpecker in one of its favorite spots near the railway bridge. Still some beautiful dragonflies around on the sunnier milder days like common darter and migrant hawker. A spectacular encounter with a stoat taking a grey squirrel near the bunker hide feeders.
The star sighting for this week has got to be the return of a little stint that has been showing well since Monday at Inner Marsh Farm hide with a couple appearances at Marsh Covert hide. The individual bird has been flaunting itself to our visitors , maybe a bit too much as it caught the eye of a passing marsh harrier who almost made it lunch!
Little stint (Mike Langman, rspb-images.com)
The team have been very busy this week. On Tuesday the team (Gwen, who was doing her final days with us, Steven, our newest residential volunteer along with current residential volunteer Alice) all joined Liz the assistant warden at Point of Ayre. They had a hard, full-on day taking down the extensive predator fencing, litter picking and cutting back the vegetation in front of the hide. Liz has also been busy at Burton Mere clearing back willow and scrub across the site. Today Liz has been leading a work party of 15 great local students from Reaseheath College and they are tackling the scrub along the edges of the paths.
Next week is the school half term, and we will be helping families getting spooky with our 'Wild Things at Halloween' family quiz trail starting on Sunday 21 October, and loads of great autumnal wildlife spectacles for kids to enjoy at Burton Mere Wetlands.The Wirral Wader Festival is now less than two weeks away, and the bird flocks at the North Wirral coast are growing nicely. Take a look at the full events programme here which includes a guided walk to Hilbre Island on the Saturday afternoon.
My six month placement at the Dee has come to an end, but the last few weeks have been really fun!
We went to Woolston Eyes once more to help assistant warden Ash with reed cutting and clearing (and got very muddy). We've also done some significant willow cutting at Burton Mere Wetlands, beneath the viewpoint beside the sacrificial crop field on the Farm and Fen trail. This served to open up the impressive view over the wetlands which had gradually diminished with the trees' growth, and also helps manage the extent of willow so it doesn’t become too dominant. We were assisted on this mammoth task by another corporate work party from HSBC and M&S Bank, who helped us cut up and burn the willow. I had a great day being in charge of the fire!
The corporate work party tackles the willow trees (A.Cousens)
Other jobs have involved re-surfacing the path down to Inner Marsh Farm hide, lots of painting to spruce up the toilets on the reserve as well as beginning to clear and organise the grain store (also known as the wardens' workshop and store).
I had lots of fun at my last off-site event as well, one of the national 'Fun Palaces' at Neston Library, where we engaged with families by making dragonflies out of pipe cleaners! I have also had my last team meeting and got to go in the badger hide and see the badgers one last time, which were nice ways to round off my time here. Yet another badger photo (G.Earlam) I can’t believe I have now come to the end of my placement with the RSPB. It has been a great six months and I have learnt so much here! From expanding my knowledge of wetland birds and the habitat conditions they need to breed in, to how to run a visitor centre, fundraising and a taste of external promotional activity, the array of experience I have gained has really been invaluable. The team and volunteers at the reserve have been so welcoming and friendly since the beginning and it has been fab to work with them all! Every single one of them helps to make Burton Mere Wetlands the special place it is and they do it so well! I am sad to be leaving but as I don’t live too far away I know I will definitely be back to visit in no time so it isn’t all sad farewells! As this is my second volunteer placement I am hoping to now get paid work in the conservation sector and will begin applying to jobs soon (once I return from a trip to New Zealand). I would love to work in habitat management either using my new experience of wetlands or my previous experience of calcareous grassland or a new habitat completely. I have also loved the engagement side of this placement and know I will take this in to whatever career I end up in!
View from Inner Marsh Farm hide (G.Earlam)
Another thing I have loved about this placement is all the exciting nature places my eyes have been opened up to from talking to locals and staff alike. During the past six months I have visited many beautiful places in my free time in addition to the amazing places I have been for work. I now see birds and wildlife everywhere I go even if it’s just a walk in a local park or along a cycle path and I have a long list of other nature reserves I want to go and explore. That is all from me now! Thank you to everyone who has been part of my time here and anyone who has read my blogs and shared the experience with me! Happy nature watching!
Inner Marsh Farm remains excellent for waders still this week, black-tailed godwits, lapwing, ruff, a count of 58 golden plover, spotted redshank, redshank, dunlin, ringed plover, green sandpiper and the curlew sandpipers still being seen every day. One day this week we had a count of 600+ pintail on Bridge Pool. This week all three types of egret have been seen around Burton Mere Wetlands, with cattle egret, little egret and great white egret at times all in one spot. On Sunday, a second cattle egret joined the existing one which is lovely to see them both out following the cattle on the wet grassland.
Pink-footed goose continue to arrive in their thousands which is a real spectacle on the reserve at this time of the year ;the skies are filled with them in their formations, flying down and landing mainly on the wet grassland but spending increasing time on the saltmarsh and surrounding farmland. This week we have had great views of raptors on the reserve being seen from Reception Hide hunting over the main scrape. We’ve had marsh harrier, peregrine, sparrowhawk, merlin, hen harrier, and a kestrel that caught a snipe in front of Inner Marsh Farm hide.
Good sightings of great spotted woodpecker on the bird feeders, and green woodpecker been seen by the railway bridge. Lovely birds seen on the feeders by reception such as nuthatch, coal tit, goldfinch and treecreeper. Also seeing flocks of long-tailed tits grouping together and spotted flying over from Burton Point were brambling, siskin and redwing. Another winter migrant been spotted on the reserve this week are fieldfare.
Highlights from Sunday’s successful Raptorwatch at Parkgate was a very special view of a barn owl hunting surprisingly early, up nice and close for the lucky spectators to enjoy. Also lovely sightings seen of six different raptors in total, had two hen harriers (both ringtails), marsh harrier, peregrine, merlin, and buzzard. During the event there were also pink-footed geese, a couple of great white egrets spotted and a solitary spoonbill flying high out on the marsh.
The star sighting for this week without a doubt was the glossy ibis that made a brief appearance in front of Inner Marsh Farm hide on Tuesday. Only a handful of lucky visitors were in the hide at the time, and one person was able to get a great photo to show this beautiful bird before it departed. This was just the seventh record for the reserve and the first since 2016, so certainly a sighting to get excited about.
Glossy ibis in front of Inner Marsh Farm hide (D.Hilder)
Assistant warden Liz teamed up with residential volunteers Alice and Gwen to tackle the grain store, the wardens' workshop and equipment store, which was in need of some tidying and organisation. After spending a full day the tools bench has had a total refresh with tools being organised into sections making it look tidier and more efficient.
The wardens workshop pre- tidy up. (A.cousens)
Next week is the school half term, and we will be helping families getting spooky with our 'Wild Things at Halloween' family quiz trail starting on Sunday 21 October, and loads of great autumnal wildlife spectacles for kids to enjoy at Burton Mere Wetlands.
If you missed out on this week's 'Raptorwatch' then get the next date in your diary! We'll be at Parkgate Old Baths on the second Sunday of every the month until March, from 1pm until dusk. The Wirral Wader Festival is now less than two weeks away, and the bird flocks at the North Wirral coast are growing nicely. Take a look at the full events programme here which includes a guided walk to Hilbre Island on the Saturday afternoon.