26 May 2017

RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands - the Camargue of the N West!

Unfortunately, despite living almost within sight of this site (as the bird flies its probably about 5 miles away),  I rarely get there. These days I prefer birding my local patch or going to Hilbre. However, news that Colin Wells had found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper piqued my interest and a day later the bird was still showing so I played it cool, went to Hilbre and waited until the crowds would have died down later in the afternoon before trundling through the lanes to Puddington.

The Buff-breastewd Sandpiper was showing well but distantly  - this was my 3rd in Cheshire following a bird at Frodsham in 1981 whilst still at Manchester University and a 2nd at the same site in 2012. Alas this one still wasn't close enough to get more than a record shot (unlike the birds we regularly see on Shetland!).

Although the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was the star attraction the real performers were the Great (White) Egrets - one was viewable from the Marsh Covert hide along with a Cattle Egret and Little Egret. Another Great Egret was showing well in a field of cows on the way back to on the reception centre. Both birds were in breeding condition as in non breeding condition the bills are yellow and the lores are paler rather than the vivid green these birds showed. At least one had well developed 'aigrettes'.

Record shot of Cattle Egret below:

Its hard to believe that both these species were, until recently, major Cheshire rarities and subject to scrutiny by the county rarities committee!

As well as the egrets other waders putting on a display included Black-tailed Godwits with one confiding individual feeding on blood worms close to the reception centre.

 Another bird that has only recently colonised Cheshire is the ubiquitous Avocet!
Again, these were once a major rarity in Cheshire with my first birds being seen around 2005 on the Weaver bend at Frodsham.  The RSPB have recently announced at least one pair of Cattle Egrets are breeding on site. With all these species and  singing Cetti's Warbler it really was like the Camargue.

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