Places to see birds

Oglet Bay and the Speke Garston Nature Reserve.

Oglet Bay and the Speke Garston Nature Reserve.

Oglet Bay lies on the north bank of the River Mersey in the middle estuary. Here clay cliffs line the river while the bay itself comprises of banks of mud and salt marsh. The Mersey is of international importance for wildfowl and waders and along this stretch of river is one of the few accessible viewpoints for seeing these birds.

The Mersey Way runs along the cliff top here making viewing easy, access to the river banks are from Dungeon Lane in Speke near to Liverpool Airport or from Hale Village. The farm fields and woods along Oglet Lane above the river are host to many birds with mixed flocks of finches roving the fields during the colder months as well as spring visitors/migrants such as wheatear, whinchat and whitethroat. Out in the bay waders and wildfowl can be seen all year round, with large influxes in the winter, with its mud banks and salt marsh Oglet Bay is a major feeding and and roosting area for these birds.

Large flocks of dunlin, curlew, black tailed godwits, grey plover and several other species can be observed feeding off the many invertebrates which live in the mud. Over the Winter teal numbers rapidly increase and fill every creek and gully along the salt marsh's with the shelduck providing a striking pattern a little further off shore. Across the river wigeon feed on the areas of salt marsh between Ellesmere Port and Runcorn.
The living to be made off these rich pickings enticing avian predators such as kestrel, peregrine, merlin,marsh harrier, short eared owl and barn owl.

Hale point by the occupied, but long inoperative lighthouse provides a good migration observation point during the spring and autumn movements, especially in the early morning.

Speke Garston Nature reserve
Access the Coastal Reserve from Speke Boulevard (A561) at the Banks Road junction.
Parking is available at the Blackburne Street entrance and Speke Hall.

Sandwiched between Garston docks and Speke airport and neighbouring the Speke Hall estate,it contains a variety of habitats, including: extensive saltmarsh, tidal mudflats, open grassland, coastal cliffs, dune-like habitat, reedbeds, farmland, and wildflower meadows.

The grasslands and coastal areas include patches of reedbed, bramble, nettle, gorse, small trees willow,hawthorn,hazel, crab apple, other shrubs and mixed hedgerow. This attracts a variety of summer visitors and year round residents such as Spotted flycatcher, grasshopper warblers, whitethroat, stonechat, reed and sedge warbler,reed bunting, skylarks, pipits, blackcaps, chiff-chaff and willow warbler, thrushes.
In winter Snipe, and jack snipe, woodcock keep safe in the wetter meadow areas.
Raptors are a common sight, buzzards soar over the reserve and neighbouring Speke hall estate, peregrines using high vantage points provided by nearby industrial units. Kestrel, sparrowhawk and short eared owl roost and hunt the area.

The garston reserve holds many wildflowers i.e.purple loosestrife, teasel, sea aster, meadowsweet, willow herb, bird's foot trefoil, vetch, red clover,angelica, speedwell and corn marigold; all these help support a breeding collection of 11 species of butterflies including holly blue, brimstone, peacock, tortoiseshell, speckled wood, orange tip and whites.

The reserve paths range from stony, overgrown grass to flat level footpaths and boardwalks with a concrete section across the old airport taxiway. Surfaces on these paths vary and some may be difficult for wheelchair use.
There are no benches along the route.