Burton Mere Wetlands Trip – 7th October 2012

It was a cool damp and misty start to the day but as the mist cleared we were left with a lovely sunny day. Unfortunately this is not always the best weather in which to go birding as we shall see ...

Shaggy Inkcap (Joan Disley)
Our first stop was at the RSPB reserve at Burton Mere Wetlands and when we arrived we were met with the wonderful sight of a good sized group of Shaggy Inkcap fungi growing in the car park. The other good thing about this was the way they had their own parking place as they were growing neatly within the markings put down for a vehicle. Another fungus we saw later was Sulphur Tuft although looking more of an orange colour as it was now past its best.

As we were trying to photograph the Inkcaps we could hear a Buzzard not far away and soon saw a Nuthatch. A little later this bird could be seen making regular visits to some feeders which were also attracting various members of the Tit family plus Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

These feeders were also favourites of two Brown Rats that kept coming out to feed on the seed that had spilled to the ground. As we were leaving I noticed some more feeders on the other side of the path and under these were five rats feeding. Around the first hide we saw Tufted Duck and two Little Grebes, one of these being a full sized young bird now as big as the adult bird that was feeding it. Other more common birds were Coot, Moorhen and Canada Geese.

Distant Ruff (Martyn Jones)
While walking to the furthest hide we could still see the last few flowers on the Alkanet and Red Campion but Jim and I stopped for a few minutes to take in the perfect mirror reflections of some reeds and trees in the still water of one of the pools.

As we were looking at this, two Grey Wagtails flew across the far end of the water, shortly to fly back across the reeds the other way. This was repeated several times with the birds sometimes landing out of view, other times one might land on one of the tree branches that were overhanging the water.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Joan Disley)
At the far hide birds such as Reed Bunting were seen as was Shoveler, Gadwall and in waders Ruff, Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit.

But it was now time to move on and as we walked back to the car park we managed to see the day's only butterfly when we watched a Small Tortoiseshell for a few minutes on a Thistle.

After going back to the visitor centre, some members decided to take the short walk to the viewing screens on the other side of the reserve.

There was not much to be seen here except for a distant bird of prey.  We debated for at least 20 minutes about whether it was a Merlin or an immature Kestrel and I'm not sure what we actually settled on in the end!  It was a very long way off and the heat haze didn't help when looking through a scope.  After giving it very careful consideration, a local photographer however did say he thought it was a Merlin, so we'll go with that.

Pied Wagtail (Martyn Jones)
After a quick drink back at the car park, a short drive brought us round to the Inner Marsh Farm which is the original RSPB site here. As we ate our sandwiches in the small car park, we could see a Pied Wagtail on the roof of the old farm building.

There is usually more to see from the hide here and with better views as you are not looking directly into the sunshine. However, this time most of what we could see in front of the hide was Teal and Lapwings. As we arrived at the hide we were met by a flyover of some of the Greylag Geese and while in the hide we spotted two Redshank near the edge of the water.

Our attention was then drawn to a Kestrel on the ground that looked to be eating something until another Kestrel flew in and they started to fight over whatever was on the menu.  Here I also spotted the last few flowers on a Foxglove plant and a cluster of bright red shiny berries on a Bittersweet plant. 

Female Stonechat (Martyn Jones)
Instead of this site, some of our members went onto Denhall Lane which overlooks Burton Marsh, where they saw a Hen HarrierBuzzard and another Kestrel plus a pair of Stonechat as well as a Green Woodpecker flying up from the marsh and over to the nearly trees.

When the two parties met up again only the Stonechat, Kestrel and a Buzzard were showing, as well as a single Robin.

A Burton Mere Kestrel (Martyn Jones)
We then went onto Parkgate, a little further up the Wirral coast but this is much the same sort of area and unfortunately these days it's so silted up and overgrown with saltmarsh vegetation you can’t even see the water anymore, it's that far away.

Black-headed Gulls for Eric
However, we did manage to see a Little Egret, Heron, a Cormorant flying past and another Kestrel, so these birds seem to be doing very well in this area.

A Skylark was also heard and one last bird especially for Eric was the Black-headed Gull which he is very keen to be notfied about if you see any.

Thanks once again to Al for organising the trip and to Eric for the lift.
Jeff Hurst

Leasowe Lighthouse - built in 1763
Martyn and Sarah actually continued on to Red Rocks at Hoylake and finally Leasowe Lighthouse at the 'top' of the Wirral to see what the high tide had brought in.  Although the tide didn't seem to be very far in at Red Rocks there were decent views of Oystercatchers, Curlew, Sanderling and various Gulls.  At Leasowe the tide was fully in and lapping on the promenade walls, so we were a little late as it's best to get there an hour or so before the high tide.  However, using a scope on some sandbanks which were exposed, there were decent views of all the birds seen at Red Rocks in much greater quantities (such as a few hundred Oystercatchers) as well as Ringed Plovers and the occasional Turnstone.

Martyn Jones