Cheshire Trip

Sunday 24th April 2016
Black-necked Grebe, Woolston Eyes
It's been a while since my last post, and that's just down to not getting round to it! Anyway, here are some highlights from my trip with the West Midlands Bird Club to Woolston Eyes NR and Burton Mere RSPB reserve in Cheshire on Sunday.
Woolston Eyes
At Woolston Eyes, sandwiched between the Manchester Ship canal and the Mersey, Black-necked Grebes are the star attraction. I noted 12, all in stunning breeding plumage. A designated SSSI, the reserve comprises four large lagoons or 'beds' used in rotation for depositing material dredged from the canal. A footbridge bridge crosses a redundant arm of the Mersey to Number 3 Bed, effectively an island surrounded by the river. Access in normally permit only - details: www.woolstoneyes.co.uk   
The footbridge, Woolston Eyes
Other highlights of the visit included a female Marsh Harrier and two adult Mediterranean Gulls, plus my first Reed Warbler of the year, and a good range of duck. The reserve is a stronghold for Willow Tit, but apart from some brief distant calls I didn't connect, not helped by the cold and damp weather during the morning visit.
Common Gull - one of at least two, apparently not a 'common' gull at Woolston
Female Marsh Harrier, Woolson Eyes
The weather perked up en route to Burton Mere, situated on the edge of the Dee Estuary on The Wirral. This RSPB reserve is part of the RSPB's Dee Estuary reserve covering more than 6,000 hectares and it's a fantastic place. The visitor centre gives views over the Reception Pool, and beyod, the Welsh bordercuts through a portion of the reserve. Highlights included nine Spotted Redshanks, all in dusky breeding attire, two Knot, 20+ Avocets, 200+ Black-tailed Godwits and nine Yellow Wagtails. I spotted among the Yellow Wagtail flock a nice male Blue-headed Wagtail. A Stoat was also nice to see. Thanks to Paul F. and the West Midland Bird Club for another great trip.
Burton Mere - the view from near Burton Point
The nine Spotted Redshanks, Burton Mere
The nine Yellow Wagtails; Blue-headed top left
The RSPB visitor centre at Burton Mere
Looking across the Dee Estuary saltmarsh from Burton Point
Bluebells, Burton Mere

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