Burton Mere -Day 25 of 30 Days Wild

Today for Day 25 of 30 Days Wild I went for a stroll around one of my favourite nature reserve in Wirral, Cheshire. Here is a short blog about what I saw at this beautiful place.

It was so peaceful at the nature reserve. All could be heard was a chorus of bird song from the trees, reeds and on the water. From the twitter of a reed warbler, the melodic song of a robin, the honking of geese to the babbling sound of the egrets. I managed to capture 2 little videos on my phone. (here and here)

As I walk around, I see a naughty grey squirrel trying to steal nuts from the feeder and ducks sitting underneath it catching food the squirrel dropped on the floor.

I saw insects gather around the wildflowers and warm themselves up on wooden benches.

 

 

Common lizards bask on the fence.

Spiders scurry below the decking carrying their eggs sacks and caterpillars emerge from the undergrowth onto the path.

As I sit overlooking the estuary and I could hear the wing beat of 2 mallards as they flew over my head before they landed in the water. I saw beautiful dragonflies dart over the water and water boatman lying on the waters surface. As I walked around the ponds 2 geese honked loudly and flew off past me, and I just managed to capture them on my phone here.

 

RSPB nature reserves are not just about birds. They are a safe haven for all wildlife and I’m so glad I have such a beautiful place near where I live.

Big Garden Birdwatch

I’ve been looking forward to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch since I got my pack through the post in early January.  I had it all planned out in my head of how the day was going to unfold and as the weekend drew closer I excitedly got my spotting scope, binoculars, camera, notepad and pen out ready.

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Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and it decided that this was the weekend it was going to be cold and raining.  To top it all off, I also fell ill with a cold.  Luckily this year RSPB have added an extra date, so I had my fingers crossed for Monday.

Well… Monday has come and I’m thankfully feeling much better today, and as I opened the curtains to a dull and damp morning, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me counting those garden birds.

I set up my spotting scope in the corner of the garden where I was well hidden and could see a number of the feeders.  As I was setting up I saw a cheeky magpie eyeing up the suet feeder in one of the trees, but then it saw me and flew off.

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At 10.30am with wooly hat, gloves and downy jacket, I sat down and waited for the birds to appear.

I could hear the birds tweeting away but it took a good 10 minutes before they started to appear in view.  The first to venture out was 2 blackbirds, followed by blue tits and great tits.  It was hard to keep an eye on all the feeders at once, so I decided to concentrate on one feeder at a time.  I have noticed that certain birds stick to certain parts of the garden, so I first watched the sparrow feeders.  They were so quick darting from the feeder to the hedge and back but I managed to count a group of 8 jostling for room on 2 feeders.
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I then turned my attention to one of the finch feeders hanging from a rowan tree. I was delighted to see chaffinches and green finches on the feeder and a wood pigeon sat in the tree.

From my view point I could just make out a bird table towards the front of the garden. Here there were rooks, jackdaws, pigeons, and a seagull.

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As I moved my spotting scope around so that I could see the back part of the garden, I caught a glimpse of a little wren hopping along the fence and a robin singing merrily sat on a branch of the hobnut tree.

At the next feeder I was busy watching the blue tits, great tits and even a cute coal tit.  Then excitingly I saw 5 long tailed tits fly into the garden and land in an apple tree, before moving to the peanut feeder.

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I even saw a jay on the compost heap in the garden, but I had to stay very still as they are easily spooked……but then it went very quiet.   All the birds disappeared and you could have heard a pin drop.

But why?…

…..Then whoosh…out from one of the fruit trees a sparrow hawk came flying past me like a fighter jet plane.  It was amazing to feel the energy as it flew past, though it was so quick it was almost a blur.

Of course, that was the end of my Big Garden Birdwatch after only 40 minutes; as although I could hear the chattering of birds from the hedges, none would venture out again till they felt safe.

 

My encounter with a hoopoe

I read with excitement yesterday that a hoopoe had been spotted at Conwy nature reserve and my fingers and toes were crossed hoping that it would still be there today.

What is a hoopoe? I hear some of you ask.

A hoopoe is normally seen in the warmer climate of Europe but the lone one can be spotted along our coast from time to time during its migration in Spring and Autumn.  It is a stunning and exotic looking bird about the size of a mistle thrush.  It has a brown body with black and white bars on its back and wings, a long downcurved bill and a fantastic black and white tipped crest.  It is difficult to see on the ground as it forages for insects by probing the earth and leaf litter with its brilliantly designed bill.  The hoopoe mostly loves to eat various insects but will eat worms and grubs too.

I have never seen one before so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to drive down there and hopefully see this stunning bird.  I got to Conwy, North Wales at 9am and there were already quite a few there waiting to see this mysterious bird.  There had apparently been a glimpse of it first thing so it was hopefully a matter of waiting till it popped out into the open again.  There were people (including myself) busily scurrying from the coffee shop to the next hide and back like a yoyo in hope of spotting it. This went on for an hour until I got lucky.  Suddenly one of the hides was alive with excitement and whispering….it had been spotted at last.

It was still a fair distance away but I could just see it through my 10×50 binoculars but better still through a spotting scope. What struck me about the bird, apart from how beautiful and exotic it is, was how well it was camouflaged on the ground amongst the rocks.  One minute you saw it, then the next it seemed to disappear, merging into the background like a ghost.

It was fantastic to see such a stunning bird, especially in such a beautiful reserve as RSPB Conwy.  Even though it was too far away for my little camera to take any photos, at least I can say that I have seen my first hoopoe.

Spot the hoopoe 😀

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Can you see it yet 😀

 

RSPB Conwy is such a lovely place surrounded by wildlife, history and stunning views.  As well as the hoopoe I got to see various waders, herons and robins,

and gaze out at Conwy castle, the lovely estuary and Mount Snowdon.

(Check out the Birds of Britain website here to see photo of a hoopoe and read more about them.)

 

Unfortunately as I finish writing my blog, word comes in that a peregrine has taken the hoopoe.   RIP hoopoe, I’m glad I got to see you 😦

More than birds at RSPB #30DaysWid

Its been a beautiful warm day so I decided to go to my local nature reserve for a wander about.

The nature reserve on the Dee Estuary straddles the border between Cheshire and Wales and has vast panoramas of Wirral and the Welsh hills, as well as an Iron Age hillfort and habitats of reedbeds, fenland and farmland.

Burton Mere is small in comparison to some RSPB sites but it is filled to the brim with wildlife. The wetland is home to breeding avocets, lapwings and hosts the largest little egret roost in the North. At the nature reserve I spotted godwits, a woodpecker, spoonbills, warblers and shelducks just to name a small few.

The place is teeming with a great variety of birds but RSPB don’t just look after our bird life.

As I walk along the paths at Burton Mere I notice the array of stunning wildflowers. There are orchids, oxeye daisies, vetch, red clover, alkanet, birds foot trefoil and many more.

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As I take a closer look at these exquisite wildflowers I see all the different insects hovering, buzzing and resting upon them. I see false oil beetles, hoverflies, horseflies, red tailed bumblebees, cuckoo spit and much more.

There are dragonflies and damselflies darting about the ponds, brimstone butterflies fluttering about the grassy verges and hairy caterpillars and spiders crawling across the wooden boardwalk.

If you are really lucky you may get to see a little vole scurrying into the undergrowth, a water vole bobbing up from the water or a glimpse of a stoat rushing by.

As I walked along the path I caught a glimpse of female and male common lizards basking in the sunshine.

Before I left I stopped to see the naughty squirrels taking the nuts out of the bird feeders and the ducks collecting seed that had fallen on the ground.


I’m very lucky to have such a fantastic wildlife place on my doorstep.

Conwy Nature Reserve #30DaysWild

RSPB Conwy nature reserve is situated on the banks of the beautiful Conwy Estuary with magnificent views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle, and was created by the RSPB after the opening of the Conwy tunnel.

I was amazed how near it was to the A55 and wondered how many times I must have driven past and not realised this little gem was here.

There is a network of paths and boardwalks running throughout the reserve leading me to viewpoints overlooking the lakes, reed beds and the estuary. From the many hides I saw egrets, shelducks and geese. As I strolled along the many paths I saw blackbirds, chaffinches and a marsh warbler; as well as dragonflies, bee orchids, purple orchids and many bees buzzing around the flowers in the sunshine.

The ponds next to the estuary provide ideal feeding and roosting places for ducks and wading birds as well as other wildlife. I even saw wild ponies nibbling the fresh green shoots coming up from a shallow pool.

The nature reserve is just amazing, with a backdrop of the most stunning scenery and an ideal place to wander for a few hours, plus the staff are really helpful and friendly.

I look forward to visiting many more times.

Natur Conwy

Mae gan gwarchodfa natur RSPB wrth yr Aber Conwy golygfeydd ffantastig o Eryri a Chastell Conwy, a chafodd ei adeildwaith gan yr RSPB ar ôl agor y twnnel Conwy.

Mae’n anhygoel y gwarchodfa natur yn agos iawn i’r A55 a thybed faint o weithiau dw i wedi gyrru gerllaw yma heb wybod am y safle.

Mae ‘na lawer o lwybrau trwy’r warchodfa sy’n mynd i ble dw i’n edrych ar y llynnoedd, cyrs ac aber.

O’r cuddfannau gweles i grëyr bach, hwyaid yr eithin a gwyddau. Mi es i am dro ar hyd y llwybrau a gweles i  fwyalchen, ji-binc a thelor y gwerni; hefyd gweision neidr, tegeirianau gwenynen, tegeirianau porffor a llawer o wenyn suo o gwmpas y blodyn yn yr heulwen.

Mae’r pyllau ger yr aber yn darparu bwydo a chlwydo lleoedd wych i hwyaid, adar rhydio a bywyd gwyllt eraill. Hefyd gweles i ferlod gwyllt bwyta’r cyffion gwyrdd ffres yn dod i fyny o pwll bas

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Mae’r warchodfa natur yn jyst anhygoel. Mae’r golygfeydd yn ysblennydd a lle wych i fynd am dro am ychydig oriau, hefyd mae’r staff yn ddefnyddiol iawn ac yn gyfeillgar.

Dwi’n edrych ymalen at fynd eto yn fuan.

Reading about nature #30DaysWild

Just a quick blog today as been busy writing a job application and lots of reading to catch up on.

There is an almighty thunderstorm so have decided it isn’t wise to be outside. There is sheet lightning directly above and the sound of thunder is deafening.  I can’t see much outside as the rain is coming down so hard, so all I see is raindrops on the window.

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I have decided to use this day to catch up on reading some great nature magazines.

I recently joined Cheshire Wildlife Trust so i’m looking forward to looking through their membership pack they sent me and reading their magazines.

I  have been a member of RSPB for few years now, so I have been reading their Homes For nature magazine this morning. Its always full of interesting and informative articles.

I am a member of Friends Of Ness Gardens too, so have their magazine to read later today.

And finally I have lots of great leaflets and a magazine on reptiles from ARC (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) and Natural England to look through. I picked up a few that I didn’t already have when I went on a reptile survey last week.

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So, even though I am not outdoors today I have plenty of reading to do and lots to learn about wildlife and nature.

 

You can always find out more from these websites:

Ness Gardens

RSPB

Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation