Right Place At The Right Time RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands 24 February



Long billed Dowitcher Thai 2


Long-billed Dowitcher, this one we found in Thailand! Just so you can see the species.



We woke up to hear rain being lashed against the windows by gale force winds, yuck! A day for having a lie in surely? But we had arranged to meet our great friends Paul and Yvonne from Focal Point Optics at Burton Mere Wetlands. A text from Yvonne told us the weather was as bad over there as in Llandudno but we were ready to go and its difficult finding a date we can meet up so decided to go ahead. We were thinking a quick look from the Reception Hide; in the warm and dry, then go for coffee and cake running seamlessly into lunch!

As we drove towards Burton a message, on the local bird news WhatsApp group, told of a Cattle Egret near the reserve so a slight detour had us watching this small yellow-billed egret. The wet field was full egrets, not just the Cattle Egret but no less than 47 Little Egrets! A sight more like the Mediterranean than Cheshire, but the weather more like Iceland!

At the reserve we met Paul and Yvonne in the car park and battled against the wind into the Visitor Centre. Plenty of birds on show here with lots of Black-tailed Godwits, an Avocet, plenty of Common Redshank and wildfowl all feeding on the pools. Pink-footed Geese were further out on the flooded grassland and a Ruff flew past with four Dunlin. We watched five Great Egrets sheltering behind a bank and lots of Grey Herons doing the same in a reed bed, not only us fed up of high winds. Suddenly lots of waders and ducks were up in the air in panic! A Peregrine Falcon tore across the reserve causing mayhem! The raptor chased and stooped repeatedly at the waders but failed to catch any of them. We were all thrilled to witness this amazing bird in action, the world’s fastest bird, and we could believe it! Eventually the Peregrine gave up and landed at the back of the pools and the reserve slowly returned to normal.

Chatting with other birders we learned that the Woodcock we had failed to see two days ago had been seen again the previous day. Armed with a more detailed description of just where to look we set off to try again to see this bird. Luckily it was a little more sheltered where the Woodcock had been seen and we realised we had been about twenty feet away from where we should have been two days ago! We almost immediately saw the Woodcock on a bank between two small pools, brilliant! Through the telescopes we had wonderful views of this most cryptically patterned wader. Photographs of the bird were very tricky though as so many branches in the way. A Chiffchaff moved through the bushes here, our third new bird for 2020, after the Ruff and Woodcock and to think we nearly stayed at home! We carried on with our walk towards the far end of the reserve and amazingly saw a second Woodcock kindly pointed out by two birders heading back to the centre. We were able to share this bird with two other birders, friends of ours Leon Castell and his wife.

We reached the end of the path and the Inner Marsh Farm hide that overlooks the lagoon here and were surprised to find the hide empty. The bad weather had obviously put people off venturing this far. Lots of birds were on the pool right in front of the hide, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Tufted Duck were showing off and on the far side masses of Black-tailed Godwits lined the edge. Leon and his wife joined us in scanning the flocks; we picked out two Ruff and watched a Marsh Harrier hunting the rough grassland beyond. Then a second bird of prey joined the Marsh Harrier a wonderful “ringtail” Hen Harrier! Superb to see these two species side by side and now with some sunlight on them! Back to the waders and Leon spotted an odd wader and asked Alan to have a look. What a shock Alan got, a Long-billed Dowitcher was amongst the Black-tailed Godwits, a rare visitor from North America and very unexpected here and even more so in February! Panic as all six of us got on to this rarity and Alan broadcast the news to local birders and telephone the visitor centre to alert the staff and volunteers. The Long-billed Dowitcher was mobile pushing its way past the much bigger godwits and we kept losing it and re-finding it. Sadly it was just too far for photos but we were thrilled to see this exciting American vagrant. Then a Marsh Harrier flushed all the waders and every bird took flight and we lost the Dowitcher. Luckily the birds came down but no sign of the Long-billed Dowitcher. With other birders now arriving we left them to relocate the bird, which thankfully they did!

We enjoyed a lovely celebratory lunch and thanked goodness that we had kept to plan A and all met up as planned!

Black Grouse May 2016 2

Black Grouse just one the 120 plus species you can enjoy on our March tour.



We have two spaces, due to a cancellation, on our five day Best of North Wales tour 21 -25 March 2020 based at a lovely hotel in Trefriw, Conwy Valley. Lots of birds, superb scenery, great food and lots of fun await you. Come and join us!

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips, please see our tours pages and if you have any questions at all please fire away here….

info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!





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