Well after the spectacular sight of the starlings in Blackpool yesterday it was off to the Dee Estuary and the RSPB Reserve at Burton Mere.
Before I continue with that though, I must draw attention to my sister in laws back garden! She lives on the banks of the river Weaver just outside Winsford and the bird traffic through the back garden is terrific. In the 15 minutes or so whilst we had a bit of toast and a cuppa before setting out we had visits by:
Blue Tit 20+, Great Tit 15+, Chaffinch 20+, Bullfinch 2, Greenfinch 6, Goldfinch 6, Great Spotted Woodpecker 2, Robin, Blackbird 4, House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Magpie and out the front, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant and Black Headed Gull. I'm sure I've missed some out!
Anyway we then jumped in the car and headed off. Burton Mere is fairly new and the facilities are excellent, a nice warm visitor centre (which was essential on Sunday with the wind trying to blow you over and freeze you at the same time!) with panoramic views over the reserve. The staff were helpful and friendly too. Oh before I forget, just before getting to the car park, the 2 fields to the right of the track were full of a mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwing 100+
We were hoping to see the reported Spoonbill, but we just missed it! It was apparently right in front of the visitor centre about half an hour before we got there, oh well that's life! The Bean, Brent and Pink Footed geese were also absent, out foraging in the nearby fields, but we didn't pick up any sign. But all was not lost.
Perusing the pools and grassland from the visitor centre, we picked up:
Coot, Mallard, Dunlin (1st for 2012), Sanderling (1st for 2012), Teal, Shelduck, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Bar Tailed Godwit (1st for 2012), Lapwing, Canada Goose, Greylag, then over the trees to the right a Hen Harrier, spot of the day so far and again a first for the year. We then had a first for us for the UK, a Great White Egret, (Seen before in Borneo!) followed quickly by a Little Egret and 7 Grey Heron all together!
We then left the Visitor Centre and walked over to the nearby excellent double sided hide, where we added:
Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Kestrel (2), Black Tailed Godwit (1st 2012), Pintail (1st 2012), Gadwall, Shoveller and Pheasant (2). We stayed here for a while, before heading over to the distant second hide. (There is no direct path to this yet, although I believe it is planned, the easiest way is 10 minute drive around the reserve and then a 10 minute walk.)
We didn't pick up anything new here except Robin, Blackbird and Crows, but there were closer views of the Teal, Shelduck, Shoveller and some Lapwing. Plus a much better view of the Great White Egret, who had been hidden by the tall reeds/grass from the visitor centre and first hide.
Finally we left and decided to drive up to Parkgate, in the hope we might see the Spoonbill there as the volunteers at the visitor centre said that it does head over there, but again alas no sign. We did pick up some Redshank though (as well as Wigeon, Mallard, BHG, Little Egret and a another Pheasant.)
So after that we did a little sight seeing along the estuary up to West Kirby, then back, dropping in at Burton Mere for the last 20 minutes for another cuppa as it got dark and just to see if the Geese or the Spoonbill might have ventured back, but no. Much better views of the Bar Tailed Godwits and Wigeon though as they had moved much closer to the visitor centre.
Anyway I think that about covers the day, I don't think I've missed anything. Very few decent photos as most birds were to far away!