Over the last couple of days, by coincidence, The Wirral has been my area of choice for birding, with a few tasty species attracting me over to this area not far from home.
On my first trip out I headed up to Parkgate, previously a Victorian seaside resort but now a mecca for birders, usually on high tides. This time though, I was heading there as a scarce bird had been reported on a marsh pool that morning. As I pulled up and looked out I saw a couple of white birds on the aforementioned pool, one smaller and the other slightly larger and off white, even without bins I knew that this was my target bird, a Spoonbill. I set the scope up and was soon watching the Spoonbill roosting up and Boathouse Flash, and as this species does it remained asleep nearly the whole time I was there. It did lift its head once or twice just for 2 seconds, enough to show its distinctive spatulate bill that gives it its name. The bird was roosting with a Little Egret and several Redshank whilst a Great White Egret flew through the same scope view as I watched the pool. Next I drove to the southern end of Parkgate Prom and searched the tidal debris where several Meadow Pipits were picking around for food. Soon I found what I had been expecting, 2 Wheatears, a cracking grey male and a smart brown female. As I watched these birds, a cream-crown Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh further out, a nice ending to a brief visit up to Parkgate.
The very next day, given a sunny forecast and no wind, I headed again to The Wirrral but further south this time, starting at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB. Earlier it had been announced that due to the current covid-19 virus, the RSPB were closing the Visitor Centre here, but allowing access onto the reserve. I drew up in the car park at 9am and was the first member of the public to arrive! I headed out onto the reserve and started at the Reedbed Screen. Soon after being joined by a couple more birders I spotted a male Bearded Tit on the reed edge. Later the male and female showed fantastically well, sometimes only a couple of feet in front of us, stunning! A Cetti’s Warbler also showed well, perched up at first and then in flight, good to actually see this secretive species. I next headed up the path to ‘The Dell’ where after a bit of searching a Woodcock was found crouching and partially hidden down below in the overgrown scrub. It later walked off, just as another birder appeared, what unlucky timing. Several Chiffchaffs showed and sang around the reserve and a Marsh Harrier and 2 Buzzards were overhead. On the Visitor Centre Lagoon 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls were displaying and Avocets were on most pools around the reserve.
My final port of call was nearby Burton Point where I had a good walk along the marsh and below the Burton Mere reserve. First birds were 4 Wheatears, all male, in the sheep fields inland of the marsh. A pair of Stonechats were on the marsh and a few Linnets flew over. Near the reserve marshlands viewpoint a bit of searching eventually found one of the resident Little Owls, tucked up inside a hawthorn watching the ground below for movement that could be its next meal. On the walk back 3 Great White Egrets were seen out on the marsh, this once scarce species now being pretty commonplace here and elsewhere in the UK.
The Wirral is always a great birding destination, especially the marshes on the west side and Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB is a jewel in Cheshire’s crown reserve-wise. A great two day’s birding, and some impressive birds seen, being the result of two relatively short trips out. Definitely a way to cheer up in the current climate of coronavirus worries.