We Head East To The Dee Estuary Day Three Best Of North Wales 18 January 2023

Male Hen Harrier, always a huge thrill to see one of these "grey ghosts" - library photo.

The day began with Woodcock watching before a super breakfast – just what is needed on a cold snowy morning! The road north from the hotel was covered in snow so a very slow careful drive until the main A55 was reached – luckily mostly clear. A quick stop at Llanddulas but the sea was very choppy though we did see Common Scoters flying offshore and a smart drake Goosander whizzed west along the coast.

Black tailed Godwit Sept Cley

We enjoyed super views of Black-tailed Godwits at the reserve - library photo.

At RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, on the Dee Estuary, we were pleased to see the lagoons were not frozen and not to much snow. Lots of birds to enjoy from the reception hide. A huge Great Egret landed in the small pool next to the hide – what a fantastic view of this yellow-billed “giraffe egret”! A big flock of Black-tailed Godwits were on the main lagoon and amongst them Common Redshank and Dunlin. We did well for birds of prey here having super views of a hunting male Marsh Harrier, a Common Buzzard, a hovering Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk dashing low of the reedbeds and best of all a stunning male Hen Harrier! Ruth spotted this “grey ghost” of a raptor flying low over the wet grassland area and luckily it stayed in view a good time allowing us all to be thrilled by this rare bird, wow!

At nearby Burton Marsh we watched a mass of Pink-footed Geese feeding on the saltmarsh and more Marsh Harriers and Great Egrets beyond them. A single Golden Plover was amongst a flock of Lapwings looking stunning in the winter sun. Despite the sun it was bitterly cold and we welcomed the warmth of the Boathouse Restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely lunch. Great thing here is we can keep watching the birds over the marshes from inside, in the warm! We saw Marsh Harriers, Pink-footed Geese, Stock Doves and Great Egrets from the lunch table.

After a lovely lunch we braved the cold and walked north to the Old Baths car park where we could again scan the vast marshes of the Dee Estuary. Lots more sightings of Marsh Harriers and another superb male Hen Harrier that put on a great show for us staying in view for a long time. A Sparrowhawk soared above us as Skylarks flew over and flocks of waders and geese swirled over the marsh. A Lesser black back Gull patrolled over the nearest pools a new bird for our trip before we decided we were cold enough and headed for the hotel and hot baths!

A great day on the Dee and we enjoyed 65 species, very good indeed considering the bitter cold weather and all that snow!

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