Parkgate marsh is a fantastic wetland habitat situated on the Dee Estuary in the North West of England. If you wish to see plenty of wildlife then high tide is the best time to visit as I don’t think you truly appreciate how much wildlife thrive on these vast salt marshes when you visit at low tide.
High tide offers a unique opportunity to view a number of small mammals that are seldom seen otherwise, as its home to field voles, shrews, moles, rats, and harvest mice. You may see flocks of ducks, geese, lapwings, egrets and wigeon. And if you are lucky you’ll get to see beautiful kestrels, hen harriers, owls and merlins.
As an early birthday treat I visited Parkgate yesterday. It was quite blustery and cold but ideal conditions for a good tide. Sitting on the promenade eating yummy chips I sat and waited for the tide to come in. It was amazing to watch a vast amount of salt marshes become submerged and even better was the wildlife I was able to see because of it. Small mammals were flushed out of the homes and forced to flee towards the old sea wall to seek dry land. I saw a gorgeous field vole on the grass in front of me and watched a brown rat swimming to a clump of long grass to get dry. The small mammals are very vulnerable at this time as they can be taken by herons and a variety of raptors.
Not far away from the old sea wall I saw a raven combing the ground, and egrets wading on the water’s edge. Further out on the estuary I saw numerous ducks, geese, herons and lapwings.
As I walked along the promenade towards the old bath house car park I saw a small flock of lovely twites singing merrily high up in the shrub branches. I stood for a bit and looked out over the estuary when I suddenly realised I wasn’t alone. There next to me hidden under a bush was a lovely little robin and a beautiful song thrush just looking up at me. They seemed to be hiding from something but what was it. I looked towards the trees behind me and saw nothing but as I turned back round I spotted it. There perched high up looking out towards the estuary was a stunning merlin with the sun’s rays glistening off its beautiful feathers. It was absolutely beautiful to stand and watch it as the sun started to set over the Welsh hills on the opposite side of the estuary.
As I walked back the light was starting to fade and with it came a vast number of geese silhouetted across the skyline. Numerous lapwings danced about the low horizon before landing in the marshes. The haunting sound of geese and lapwings indicating the end of a wonderful day and a great birthday.