L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB and Parkgate - Saturday 8th February

CALM BEFORE STORM CIARA

Our February L.O.S. Fieldtrip took us out to the Dee Estuary and the venues of Parkgate and Burton Mere Wetlands, deciding on the last minute that Parkgate Old Baths would be our first destination of the day. With some swift reorganising of our meeting point sorted, we all eventually met up at Parkgate where the high tide was predicted just after 10am. It proved not to be one of the better high tides, but I'm afraid it was what it was.

Male and Female Stonechats (c) Paul Pennington and Keith Williams
Two of us walked out to the golf course area and would see very little of note. A pair of Stonechat, the odd Little Egret, a single Greenfinch and a female Reed Bunting, not forgetting the vast numbers of Geese, mainly Pink Footed, as the odd Skylark sang in the sky above.

Little Egret (c) Bobby Loomba
The rest kept the fort at the Old Baths area, with more success. A male and female Merlin, a pair of Peregrine Falcon, and the ever present Marsh Harriers were the main contenders. Other sightings included Blackbird, Song Thrush, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Redshank, Curlew, Grey Heron, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.

Reed Bunting (c) John Preston
After an hour or two we decided to head of to RSPB Burton Mere. First we went out towards the Bunker hide area. Meadow Pipit and Mistle Thrush were seen in the adjacent field. In the same area, a Kestrel hovered on the wind, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch by the feeders, and from the hide itself, a few Ruff.
Kestrel (c) Martyn Jones
We retraced out steps and headed out towards main site and the various hides. Firstly to the ponds alongside the wild flower garden area. Here many Canadian Geese and Tufted Duck. Mixed in with these where a pair of Egyptian Geese - although these birds would have originally come from escapees, there are now self-sustaining breeding pair in the wild here and so they are counted as UK birds and always nice to see.

Egyptian Geese (c) Martyn Jones
We made our way round the reserve. Firstly to the Marsh Covert hide. Here a small flock of Curlew, four Pintail, and many Teal and Shoveler. On leaving the hide four Buzzard drifted above us and away behind the treeline, one of which returned at low altitude as we headed along the trail, giving great views and photo opportunities.

Buzzard (c) Paul Richardson
At this point some of the gang headed back to Parkgate in hope of the Owls. But I'm told they did show, but not for long, and as the weather was unfavourable they eventually gave up the ghost.

Ground Beetle (Carabus granulatus) (c) Paul Richardson
Five of us continued on our way round the Reserve. First up to the hill atop of the Willow Trail. Here a couple of Dunnock, and a mixture of Rook and Jackdaw in some distant tall trees. We then headed across the railway bridge and along the Hillfort Trail. Here at the bottom of the field a small flock of Fieldfare. We took a vantage point over looking the Dee Estuary and four Great White Egret were picked out, but not much else.

Great White Egret (c) Paul Richardson
Then at the bottom of the field Keith and John spotted a fleeting glimpse of a Green Woodpecker. After some searching of the tree lined fence, it eventually took to the air and headed towards the railway lines and some larger trees. As we were heading that way we stopped for a while, but had no luck relocating it.

Teal (c) Graeme Robertson
Onward to the last hide on the reserve. This hide gives fantastic panoramic views of the whole site. To our right a large flock of Wigeon grazed on the grass bank. On the small island in front a flock of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. A number of Greylag mixed with Canadian Geese flew in from the pasture. A dozen or so Curlew came and went. Many Shoveler and Teal gave presence with a scattering of Shelduck.

Shoveler (c) Paul Pennington
A single Marsh Harrier appeared to our right, disturbing many a hundred Lapwing amongst other Ducks and Waders. It scoured the whole site, eventually coming out towards the front of the hide giving everyone great views. Making our way back three Raven passed just above us at close quarters

March Harrier (c) Paul Richardson
Other birds of note on this trip: Dunlin, Sparrowhawk, Redwing, Oystercatcher, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit plus all the usuals.

Fieldfare (c) Keith Williams
In all 64 species were noted. A great day for all, with a sprinkling of giggles and fun along the way. Thankfully a Saturday venture as Storm Ciara would have been a Sunday washout. Phew!!!

Thanks to all who attended and their company. See you next time.
Paul Pennington 
L.O.S. Fieldtrips Officer

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