Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dee Estuary

NEW Visitor Centre @ Burton
Another superb away-day with several of the Brandon Marsh conservation team and this time a trip to the Dee estuary.

Once the Burton Marsh fisheries and three years in the making our first port of call was to the newly opened RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands Reserve, which boasts a new visitor centre and a £40,000 hide which overlooks grasslands and pools.

The centre itself provides panoramic views for miles around and it wasn't long before we'd recorded Wigeon, Little Egret, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Ruff and Little Stint. A Pectoral Sandpiper had also been showing well the day before and although very briefly seen by the reserve staff today, we were unable to connect during our stay.

Looking across to the new hide!
The new hide is bright and airy and although strangely some of the windows are permanently closed, the majority open fully and provide extremely good viewing. The hide has an excellent all round view, from the newly planted reed beds and across to the older Inner Marsh Farm hide. Good numbers of Geese, which amongst mostly Greylag and Canada included single Pink-footed, Barnacle and Ross, although I'm not entirely convinced the Ross is a pedigree, although I'm told by Colin Wells the site manager that the bird is not ringed! Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal and Greenshank were also observed.

After Burton Mere a short drive to Parkgate to catch the high tide and a short stop along the front at Neston to search the small pools which produced Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint and Ruff, along with good numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

Lunch at Parkgate overlooking the Estuary was extremely pleasant in the beautiful warm sunshine, but sadly with the wind in completely the wrong direction and not a particularly high tide views were distant. However, it did produce the best of the day with a stunning ring tail Hen Harrier. A distant Tern, probably common, good numbers of Little Egret, Shelduck, Curlew and a constant flow of Meadow Pipit and Skylark overhead made it worthwhile.

After lunch a short drive to where a Great White Egret had been reported earlier and although we bombed on the Egret good numbers of Redshank were seen on the mudflats along with more Little Egret, Curlew but only a single Oystercatcher.

Finally a stop at Inner Marsh Hide on the way back through initially took us on a wild goose chase (no pun intended) and the least said about this the better. Although the unscheduled walk did produce 4 Wheatear and a lone Stonechat! Suffice to say that when we eventually did get to the hide it was a slight disappointment adding nothing new to our birding list. Also seen today of note were: Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard, Swallow, Linnet and Chiffchaff. A superb day out!!