Trip reports

Burton Mere and Parkgate 19th November 2017

Burton Mere and Parkgate 19th November 2017
Dennis Capewell

Thursday, 23 November 2017

On this trip we visited two locations, namely Burton Mere, an RSPB reserve at the south end of the Dee estuary, and Parkgate, another RSPB reserve situated midway along the estuary. The weather was fine with little wind and good visibility.

Calling first at Burton Mere, there was plenty of activity at the feeder near the visitor centre with blue, great and coal tits present plus chaffinches and goldfinches. On the lake in front of the visitor centre we saw black-tailed godwits, several snipe feeding out in the open and a few dunlin. The gulls were mostly black-headed but there were also some herring and common gulls.

In the woods a nuthatch was conspicuously visiting a feeder whilst a small flock of siskins was in some alders nearby. On the way to Burton Point, a promontory overlooking the estuary, we encountered ruff, shelduck and lapwing on the lakes (and later in the day golden plover). There were also linnets and stonechats in the fields on the approach to the railway bridge. From the point we looked in vain for hen harrier and short-eared owl but did spot marsh harrier, kestrel and great white egret. Also on the marsh were little egrets, Canada geese, greylag and pinkfeet. The marshes were rather busy with people clay pigeon shooting, flying model planes and some individuals walking right into the middle of the marshes.

At other end of the reserve chaffinches and goldfinches were joined at some feeders by greenfinches and at a nearby farm building there were pied and grey wagtails. On the return to the coach a great spotted woodpecker flew over the fields and redwings were in the hedges.

We set off for Parkgate at 2 pm. On the marshes we saw many of the same species as at Burton Mere but also came across meadow pipits, skylark and fieldfares. We didn't see short-eared owl but 2 marsh harriers were seen several times quartering the marshes as we walked from the drop-off point towards the Parkgate viewpoint. At the viewpoint, after about an hour's wait, a male hen harrier was seen flying down the estuary towards Burton Mere; about 10 minutes later it made a return trip heading towards the mouth of the estuary (see the photo by Dennis Capewell). A kestrel was around for most of our time at Parkgate and stopped briefly in front of some of the group to start eating a captured vole before being scared off by a dog. Another good find was a merlin which was seen on a perch well away from the viewpoint.

As on our previous visits to these two reserves we had a good day, this time with over 60 species being seen.