Thursday, 28 April 2016

Woolston Eyes & RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands

On Sunday I was off out with the West Midland Bird Club for their monthly coach trip, this time to two destinations towards the northwest - Woolston Eyes and RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. It's been a while since I blogged about a trip with WMBC, as I missed the March one, and got ill just after the February one so never got around to writing a blog post!

Our first stop was Woolston Eyes in Warrington where we were looking forward to seeing the reserve's speciality of Black-necked Grebes, a very rare breeding bird in the UK. Woolston Eyes has at times held up to a third of the UK's breeding population! Although the weather was rather on the manky side, we were soon keeping cosy in the various hides around the site and enjoying smashing views of the grebes.

Woolston Eyes.
Black-necked Grebe record shot (with a bonus whizz-by Swallow).
As well as the snazzily-plumaged Black-necked Grebes, we also saw two Mediterranean Gulls in tip top breeding plumage, Common Gull, plenty of Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins whizzing about and quite a few ducks including Teal, Pochard, Shelduck, Gadwall and Shoveler. There were a few Reed Buntings around and I had a brief but satisfying view of a Reed Warbler - my first of the year. Elsewhere on the site we'd been hoping for a Grasshopper Warbler and maybe a Lesser Whitethroat but there was a marked lack of warbler action, possibly due to the cold, wet and windy weather. We did see some lovely patches of Ground-ivy along the path leading into the reserve:

Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea).
Luckily by the time we got to Burton Mere the weather had improved considerably. We enjoyed the walk down to the main reserve through some stunning Bluebell woods!

I couldn't decide which photo to use so I've used nearly all of them. Ha!
I hadn't visited this reserve before and it turned out to be a good'un. On the wetlands we enjoyed a smorgasbord of waders, including Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Spotted and Common Redshank. The Dunlin and Spotted Redshank were in their full summer plumage, and many of the Godwits were pretty much there too.

Black-tailed Godwits busily feeding; some in full summer plumage, some in winter, and some inbetween!
In one of the fields a lone Barnacle Goose was loitering, and we spotted whatever you call a Little Egret breeding colony (an egretry?) in some of the trees. We heard but didn't see a Cetti's Warbler, and walked through a lovely field of sheep and lambs to the viewpoint to spot a couple of Wheatears! I also spotted a new plant to try and identify:

I think this is Three-cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum).
The view from the viewpoint.
Another great day with the bird club, with lots of lovely year ticks :o)

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