Trip reports

Burton Mere Wetlands

Burton Mere Wetlands
Goldcrest - Jill Islam

Saturday, 16 December 2017

The December outdoor trip should have been to the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust's Brandon Marshes Reserve. However, because of the weather conditions in the preceding week, and after a conversation with the staff at the reserve, we decided on an alternate venue, risk assessment, health and safety, and all that.

The alternate venue chosen was the RSPB's Burton Mere Wetlands Reserve, plus adding in a visit to Parkgate to view the estuarine marshes.

It was a promising nice frosty morning when we left Bolton, but by the time we had assembled at Chester services on the M56, the clouds had arrived, and with it the drizzle.

Attempting to be the first bird of the day was a starling, which perched for a minute, or so, on the wing mirror of Chris' car. Unbeknown to it though, it was the 501st bird as a large skein of pink-footed geese had just flown over.

As it was (not so very) high tide time we firstly headed off to the car park adjacent to the Boathouse pub at Parkgate, which affords good view over the marshland.

Despite the weather a common buzzard and a marsh harrier continued to hunt, and a short-eared owl appeared to be making use of the gaps between showers. Teal were the only ducks seen on the pools, along with redshanks and black tailed godwits. A few curlews flew around and 80 or so lapwings kept taking to the air, either being disturbed by the marauding great black backed gulls, or some unseen raptor. Lesser black backed gulls, black headed gulls, and herring gulls were also present.

We then drove to Denhall Quay to see if there were any raptors on this section of the marsh but the drizzle seemed a bit worse here, and visibility was poor so there was nothing to note.

Off then to the visitor's centre at Burton Mere, and it's nice welcoming wood chip burning stove - very nice.

Anyway, there was still intermittent rain; nice weather for ducks you might say, but there were only mallards, and plenty of teal, with just a couple of pintails on the pool outside the centre. Also present were cormorants, grey heron, little egret, coot, moorhen, black tailed godwit, lapwing, and a few golden plovers. A stonechat kept flitting from one side of the channel to the other, and in the distance a number of greylag geese could be seen.

The drizzle had eased a bit, so we had a short walk to view the muddy fields where there were a 1000 or so pink-footed geese, and 15 whooper swans. In another field half a dozen mute swans were feeding, and around the feeding station we saw greenfinch, chaffinch, and goldfinch, with the odd blackbird, song thrush and redwing foraging in the adjacent fields.

A walk in the other direction round the old fishing ponds gave us views of some more common woodland birds, with siskin, goldcrest and treecreeper adding to the days list. A grey wagtail was unusually high in a tree, and there were a few tufted ducks on the pond.

And more showers. So, time for lunch.

Most of the group forwent their sandwiches in preference for a chippy lunch at Parkgate, though salt seemed to be a compulsory added extra. These were eaten at the same place we'd parked in the morning, with the conditions being slightly better.

The lunch break brought us three marsh harriers, a couple of great white egrets, pheasant, a pair of stonechats, a distant peregrine, and a hunting kestrel, which caught and devoured a vole.

Then, for the want of anything better to do, we called it a day, as the drizzle started again.

6 attended, 53 species seen.