Parkgates and Burton Wetlands 15.11.16

Overcast, drizzle at first but brightening later

A good number of TT early birds met at Parkgates soon after 9.30am, a good hour or so before high tide, to watch the movement of birds over the estuary. Undeterred by a steady drizzle that seemed to increase in intensity, we were soon scanning the vista before us and were almost immediately rewarded, first with the sight of a Great White Egret with its distinctively long neck, and then with that of a Merlin perched on a post not too far from the shore, but as visibility shrank and temporary gloom descended on us both literally and metaphysically, we began to wonder whether the effort we had made was going to be worth it!  However, fluttering behind us amongst the trees and bushes around the car park drew our attention and revealed a number of Redwings, Blackbirds and Goldfinches feeding on the seeds and berries, and we were reminded that no matter what the conditions, there is always going to be something of interest to look at.

As the tide began to come in, with it came brighter weather, as the sky began to clear from the west and in the distance along the shoreline there was an increasing level of activity. Far away, a huge tangle of Knot did its ‘now-you-see-us, now-you-don’t’ routine, and, in the opposite direction, large flocks of Lapwings and Starlings rose repeatedly into the sky, no doubt alarmed by predators unseen by us.

Although the tide did not come in as far as many of remembered from previous occasions, large numbers of birds were disturbed with both Canada and Pink-footed Geese taking to the air. Eventually the longed-for raptors put in star appearances and we were treated to the sight of at least one Marsh Harrier gliding low along the estuary, a pair of Kestrel sweeping past and finally, a male Hen Harrier that flew off into the distance – not to mention a Peregrine that several of us had not previously noted, so statue-like was it on a post in the middle distance right in front of us!

With midday approaching and breakfast for many of the Team an increasingly distant memory, it was decided to move on the the Visitor Centre at Burton Wetlands, where we could eat our lunches in relatively well-appointed surroundings. Our arrival at the VC coincided fortuitously with that of three Bewick Swans that had just dropped in, before heading off again who-knows-where after a few minutes. Having enjoyed lunch and the sight of the usual rewarding mix of birds, including half-a-dozen Cattle Egrets (near the cattle!) and five or six Common Gulls contrastingly nicely with the Black-headed Gulls amongst whom they were resting, it was then decided to venture out from the warmth to see what else we could view, with some making for the Inner Marsh Farm hide and others opting for the nearer Marsh Covert Hide. While the Inner Marsh Farm hide proved disappointingly quiet (although some Snipe were spotted from one of the viewing screens en route, and a pair of our number who went the long way round came across a Pintail), the Covert Hide proved much more productive: there were  more sightings of Marsh Harriers, Shelduck, Shoveler and Teal; some witnessed a Male Hen Harrier being attacked by a crow; and Redshank, Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were all on show.  There was some discussion, both amongst members of the team and other birders present, as to whether a bird in one of the pools in front of the hide was a Greenshank or a Green Sandpiper, with the consensus emerging (after the said bird had taken flight to reveal a solidly black back) in favour of the latter.

Thereafter, a short walk back to the car park in an increasingly golden light, vividly awakening the autumn colours of the trees, brought a good day’s birding to a very pleasant end.

Bird List (BP)


  1. Cormorant
  2. Little Egret
  3. Great White Egret
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. Canada Goose
  6. Mallard
  7. Shelduck
  8. Teal
  9. Marsh Harrier
  10. Hen Harrier (male)
  11. Kestrel
  12. Merlin
  13. Peregrine
  14. Pheasant
  15. Moorhen
  16. Lapwing
  17. Knot
  18. Curlew
  19. Black-headed Gull
  20. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  21. Stock Dove
  22. Woodpigeon
  23. Skylark
  24. Robin
  25. Blackbird
  26. Redwing
  27. Mistle Thrush
  28. Magpie
  29. Carrion Crow
  30. Starling
  31. Goldfinch

Burton Wetlands

  1. Grey Heron
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Shelduck
  5. Wigeon
  6. Teal
  7. Mallard
  8. Shoveler
  9. Tufted Duck
  10. Marsh Harrier
  11. Buzzard
  12. Kestrel
  13. Pheasant
  14. Moorhen
  15. Coot
  16. Lapwing
  17. Dunlin
  18. Snipe
  19. Black-tailed Godwit
  20. Curlew
  21. Redshank
  22. Green Sandpiper
  23. Black-headed Gull
  24. Common Gull
  25. Wood Pigeon
  26. Collared Dove
  27. Kingfisher
  28. Green Woodpecker
  29. Pied Wagtail
  30. Robin
  31. Stonechat
  32. Blackbird
  33. Redwing
  34. Great Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Long-tailed Tit
  37. Dunnock
  38. Magpie
  39. Jackdaw
  40. Carrion Crow
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Greenfinch
  43. Goldfinch
  44. Linnet
  45. Lesser Redpoll
  46. Bullfinch

Photos JH


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