A Fantastic Day On The Dee Estuary With Janet And John 7 February 2022

No doubt the fantasic views of the Short-eared Owls were THE highlight but so much more too!

We met Janet and John at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands at 9am and immediately began enjoying birds together. John had booked a custom day Birdwatching Trips tour of the Dee Estuary ideal for them being fairly new to bird watching so we could go at a pace perfect for them giving plenty of time to explain identification features and more about each species enjoyed.

One of the very first species we enjoyed was Egyptian Goose; a pair of these rather bizarre birds were in a field adjacent to the car park along with both Greylag and Canada Geese. A pair of Mistle Thrushes were also feeding nearby allowing super views through the Leica telescopes.

Lapwings on the Dee

Northern Lapwings we enjoyed so many of these beautiful birds on the Dee Estuary.

At the visitor centre it was bird overload at first glance so many species and so many individual birds were on the lagoons and wet grasslands in front of us! But we took plenty of time to carefully work through the birds and really enjoy each species. Pink-footed Geese were flying over calling their wonderful “wink-wink” calls and dropping down onto the grasslands a fantastic sight and sound. Lots of Canada Geese here too also very noisy! Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal were all showing very well right in front of the centre. Waders included leggy Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and beautiful Lapwing. Two Marsh Harriers cruised over the reedbed and sent waders and ducks scattering into the air ahead of them – fantastic to watch. A big female Sparrowhawk also flew in and landed on the far bank of the pool allowing super looks.

We walked down to the Marsh Covert hide stopping to admire a wonderful gang of Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Cormorants up in tress and listen to at least two unseen Cetti’s Warblers singing from the reeds. Three Ravens sat in a tree above us and “cronked” away as they do, a sight we would not have seen on the Dee Estuary only a few years ago great to see them doing well.

From the hide we enjoyed super views of Gadwall – on e of those birds that need a close view of to really appreciate them and through the scopes we could see every feather detail. Tufted Ducks were new for the day list here and we also had super looks at more Wigeon, Teal and Curlew always great to see birds more than once on a trip when learning your birds.

We then moved to nearby Burton Marsh where it has to be said that there were less birds than we usually enjoy here sadly. But we did marvel at huge flocks of Lapwing which held a few Golden Plover amongst them and at least three Great Egrets though all rather distant. A male Stonechat played hide and seek in a patch of bull rushes and more Pink-footed Geese flew over. We were also treated to a wonderful view of a Kestrel perched really close and Ruth was able to take some lovely photos and introduce John to the art of Digi scoping.

A lovely lunch was enjoyed overlooking the Dee Estuary so we could continue watching lots of birds while we enjoyed a delicious meal. Star of the lunch was a stunning male Hen Harrier that drifted low over the sunlit golden marsh just wow! We also watched Marsh Harriers, masses of Lapwings, hundreds of Pink-footed Geese many landing close to our position allowing super views what a perfect place to enjoy lunch.

Next a quick visit to Parkgate Marsh where we again had super views of Pink-footed Geese both on the marsh and hundreds of these super birds flying low overhead all calling excitedly a magical experience. Two Marsh Harriers showed well here and in a field behind the car park we had really fantastic looks at a flock of Redwings – beautiful thrushes from Scandinavia.

We then moved south along the estuary and only had to wait a few minutes for our target bird to show – Short-eared Owl wow what a beautiful bird. Over the next forty minutes or so we watched totally spell bound as the most wonderful birds hunted over the marsh, what a treat! At least four of these stunning owls swept back and forth over the partially flooded marsh allowing the most superb views as the floated just above grass height. Sometime an owl would come so close we could clearly see the pale yellow eyes just the most fantastic experience and we all soaked it up. Occasionally a Short-eared Owl would land in view on the ground but never on one of the nearby fence posted no matter how hard we wished one to! Lots of other birds here to of course – Marsh Harriers, two Kestrels, Pink-footed Geese, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Skylarks and more what a thrilling time!

Wonderful to see a Spotted Redshank back at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.

Just time to pop back to the RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands centre to see if anything new had dropped in and so glad we did as we had super views of a Spotted Redshank! This scarce wader was on the lagoon with some Common Redshank so nice to compare the two species. We also enjoyed great views of Common Snipe on the pool the first ones we had seen on the ground and had two Great Egrets drop in one either side of the centre allowing frame filling views of these elegant birds – a great end to a wonderful bird filled day. Huge thanks to Janet and John for their lovely company we do hope we can enjoy more birds with them both again soon.

We would love to put together a custom Birdwatching Trips tour perfect for you please just drop us a line and we can do the rest…


We look forward to enjoying great birds and wildlife with you soon.

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