Burton Wetlands RSPB 13.11.18

Sunny, clear blue skies with a little cloud later

Some twenty members of the Team gathered in the warm Visitor Centre on a bright, sunny morning and lost no time surveying the scene where,  besides the usual mix of ducks; Teal, Mallard and Coot, a good number of Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the shallows and, further out, a dozen or so Curlew, mostly perched on one leg, were resting on the shore of one of the lakes. A Grey Heron flew by, and a little Egret was glimpsed. Despite reports of the presence of a Water Rail nearby, this elusive bird did not show itself, and suppressing any feelings of disappointment, we headed off to walk along the trail towards the feeders and the eastern view point on the edge of the reserve. A Buzzard put in an appearance, only, as is so often the case, to be chased off by a couple of determined Carrion Crow. Some two hundred (who’s counting?) Pink-footed Geese were spotted feeding in a recently planted field, and a Kestrel obligingly came to rest on a post, not far from one of the screens, along the track. Goldfinch and a few Greenfinch were in evidence on the feeders, and looking out across the marshes, a number of what appeared to be Mute Swans could be seen.

A trek back towards Covert Hide, via the lakes, added little to our list apart from Little Grebe and Tufted Duck. Settling down for lunch and more birdwatching in the hide proved a good way to spend the next half hour or so, and between sandwiches and sips of coffee we all had good opportunity to scan the lakes in front where Ruff, Shoveler, Shelduck, Black-head Gull, a trio of Pintail and more Curlew were all present. Although smaller birds were spotted flitting about in the rushes just behind the hide, it was not possible to identify them, and eventually, lunch things packed up, we decided to strike out for the Inner Marsh Hide on the far side of the reserve.

We broke our progress to divert up to the Hillfort, on the other side of the railway, and in so doing had good views of a large flock of Linnets that were feeding in the nearby field and then flying up to the top of the tall bushes above the railway cutting. Views across the estuary were spectacular – Hilbre Island in the distance and the mountains of Snowdonia, where the clouds appeared to be thickening and darkening, to the south, but there were no good views of any birds, near or far. Recrossing the railway,  we continued our progress to the Inner Marsh Hide, our last, but as it turned out, most interesting port of call. Our first sight was of Black-tailed Godwits feeding, and quarrelling noisily, just in front of the hide, and of Lapwing that were standing in the shallow water further off. In the far distance Greylag and Canada Geese were seen as well as the Wigeon that had been heard as we had been approaching the hide. However, nearer at hand, sharp eyes, and hints from other birders present, soon revealed further treats; first of a few Dunlin that were going back and forwards along the sandy edges of the lake probing for food and then of half-a-dozen or so Golden Plover that were standing amongst the Lapwing, and which in the strong afternoon light were really living up to their name. While these might have been the icing on our cake, the cherries came in the form of excellent views, first of a Water Rail that kept dodging back and forth across a gap in the reeds off to our left and then, in front off us on the far side of the lake, of a trio of colourful Stonechat that were a real pleasure to behold in the bright sunlight as they swung backwards and forwards in the light breeze, clinging to the tops of the reeds.

Our birding appetites thus well satisfied with these final sightings, we decided to head back towards the car park, before the rain, which seemed to be heralded by the sight of a magnificent rainbow, came our way. In the end, however, the rain did not materialise and we were able to amble back slowly, taking time once again to enjoy the sight of the Linnets, as well as scanning the adjacent field where the presence of sheep churning up the soft ground, was attracting Pied Wagtail, Starlings and a couple of Jackdaw. Finally, there was a brief pause at the feeders near the VC which were now attracting plenty of titmice, before we reached our cars and headed for home after another good day’s TT birding.

Bird List (M.Ho)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Greylag goose
  4. Pink-footed goose
  5. Shelduck
  6. Wigeon
  7. Mallard
  8. Shoveler
  9. Pintail
  10. Teal
  11. Tufted duck
  12. Pheasant
  13. Little grebe
  14. Little egret
  15. Grey heron
  16. Common buzzard
  17. Kestrel
  18. Water rail
  19. Moorhen
  20. Coot
  21. Golden plover
  22. Lapwing
  23. Dunlin
  24. Redshank
  25. Black-tailed godwit
  26. Curlew
  27. Ruff
  28. Black-headed gull
  29. Herring gull
  30. Woodpigeon
  31. Pied wagtail
  32. Dunnock
  33. Robin
  34. Stonechat
  35. Blackbird
  36. Blue tit
  37. Great tit
  38. Starling
  39. Magpie
  40. Jackdaw
  41. Carrion crow
  42. Chaffinch
  43. Greenfinch
  44. Goldfinch
  45. Bullfinch
  46. Linnet
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