Friday, 12 December 2014

Egrets, Harriers and Crackers for 24

A stormy day at Burton Mere

Our now annual Christmas trip to RSPB Burton Mere wetlands saw approx 2 dozen of the group arriving in a winter storm, and boy did it lash it down, so severe we had to face the austerity of the visitor centre and the hardship of observing the mere through its large picture windows, whilst sipping hot chocolate! Ha
Warm and cosy visitor centre

Needless to say the birds were making the best of it, backs to the wind and driving rain until the squalls passed.  Lots of wildfowl and waders on the water and scrapes, teal, shelduck, widgeon, coot, moorhen, mallard, tufted  duck,gadwall, shoveler, lapwing, black- tailed godwit, pochard, redshank, dunlin, whooper swan, little egret, Canadian and greylag geese
Buzzard on the fence was the first raptor seen, eventually followed  by a  peregrine spooking the flocks,  then a  ring tailed hen harrier quartering the mere edge visible from the visitor centre. Later a great view of a marsh harrier from the  marsh covert hide.

Target bird for many was the cattle egret that has been on the reserve since September, initially elusive, but  good views were eventually gained on our return to the visitor centre after our stroll around the reserve. The egret was having fun running to a fro between the legs of the reserve’s cattle herd.

Our merry, if slightly soggy band of birders then took  a stroll around the reserve, starting from the visitor centre past the old fisheries pools (no kingy unfortunately) down the boardwalk on the reed and fen trail to the Marsh Covert Hide. From here the trial has been extended and becomes the farm and willow trail. The trail runs alongside the mere and reed bed with 2 areas of wooden screens to look through (usually a good place for water rails and closer views on wild fowl)
Screen view looking towards Burton point
The boardwalk path ends at this point as it climbs up towards the back of the mere pools towards Burton point. Here a whole field is dedicated to feeding birds, planted with wildflowers – one of Burton mere's giant meadow bird tables!
In summer this was alive with warbler song including the much sought grasshopper warbler, today it was pretty quiet and people were focusing on negotiating the very muddy path!  This path eventually leads to the old Inner marsh farm reserve path and Burton point. Along the way there’s a spectacular view of the whole reserve stretching to the old barn and sailing club in the distance.

The car park woodland was the most productive for smaller birds, mainly around the feeders. Chaffinch, blue, gt, coal tit, goldfinch, greenfinch, nuthatch, wren blackbird, song thrush, robin, tree creeper and gt spotted woodpecker (shall I mention the supreme foragers -rats!!)

We returned to the visitor centre just ahead of yet another squall, which delayed us temporarily from moving to our next venue the boathouse for Christmas dinner.

A quick pic with Harry the mascot from August’s Hen Harrier day.
Laura and Harry

Twenty-four of us sat down to a 3 course Christmas dinner at the boathouse. Great stuff, well recommended - the boozy Christmas pud to die for!

Happy revellers
Hats on, Cheers!

These are the days of our lives.
Merry Christmas everybody.


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