Sweet as pie.

Crikey O’Blimey, I’d no sooner parked up on Hesketh Rd this morning for a check of the golf course than I saw Stuart Darbyshire walking off, beaming happy having just discovered a male Pied Flycatcher.
Moving quickly past many singing Willow Warblers, Chiffies and Blackcaps, I got to the area the bird had been seen and watched it with Bazzo and Neill for ten minutes or so as it zipped around the spring branches, a real cutey.

Not everyday you get to savour a Pied Fly at the marsh, the bird was a good sign for a bit of long overdue spring busy.
There were certainly many more Willow Warblers about this morning.
As more birders arrived, Neill, Baz and I moved on to check the rest of Marshside.
Reed Warbler and the Cetti’s Warbler were squawking and spluttering in the SSSI ditch, and a few Redpoll went through.
A Gropper was reeling in the corner as we ambled down to the Hesketh Road platform and plenty of Swallows, House and Sand Martins were on the move – this was more like it.

The wildfowl on the pool didn’t seem overly phased by a fine Fox that trotted about half-heartedly thinking about breakfast before she melted into the cover of the SSSI.
From there I drove up to the Sandplant, where a stonking male Whinchat glowed amongst the Wheatears on the lorry road – having texted the troops, we watched it zipping from perch to perch, but we never got particularly close before it headed into the old Sandplant compound.

I counted at least nine Wheatear in there this morning, and with Mipits and Linnets joining them and the Whinchat, it felt good and birdy, even though there isn’t that much of the old place left now.
I heard a distinctive call and a Little Ringed Plover swept in, and landed for a few seconds before taking flight again, only to drop down in front of the Sandgrounders Hide (two Med Gulls on the pool this a.m.) a few minutes later.

Two Common Buzzards circling over the outer marsh and another two perched on the old fenceposts, while up at Crossens another seven Wheatear ran about on the turf.
Marshside getting its spring vibe on at last.

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4 thoughts on “Sweet as pie.

    • Hi Tony,
      The SSSI ditch has no public access but can be watched and listened to from the Hesketh Road platform – it is the reed and scrub fringed area stretching to the north on your right.
      Alternatively you can get views by walking north along the public footpath from Hesketh Rd through the private Hesketh Golf Course (stay on the path, and watch out for bad golf shots – errant golf balls could do damage!)

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  1. Firefighters were recently called out to tackle a blaze on the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve which damaged an important area for nesting birds and wildlife.
    Thankfully the fire was quickly brought under control and caused far less harm than the previous incident of this kind in 2013 which was started deliberately and destroyed a large swathe of Neston Reedbed and spread to Parkgate Marsh.
    However, the incident has raised repeated safety concerns from RSPB staff as arson attacks on the site have been an ongoing problem for a number of years. Due to this, the RSPB operates a wardening scheme with volunteers patrolling the area, on the lookout for any inappropriate or potentially damaging behaviour.
    Colin Wells, Site Manager at RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: “This is a stark reminder of how vulnerable the reedbed and its surrounds are at this time of year. The last few weeks have been relatively fine and combined with periods of strong winds, the conditions on the marsh have become brittle and dry, which meant the fire would have started easily.
    “We have a team of volunteers who warden the area in the evenings to try and discourage people from starting fires, which has successfully prevented any for a few years. It was the fast action of one of these volunteers on Saturday evening to promptly raise the alarm and allow the fire to be extinguished quickly before too much damage was done.”
    The RSPB are concerned about the damaging impact the blaze may have had on local wildlife living in the affected site, particularly harvest mice and nesting birds.
    Colin added: “The harvest mice have lost their habitat and many of them may have been injured or killed. The area is an important breeding ground for birds such as reed buntings and water rails. They have lost their nesting areas. It’s devastating as we work so hard to create and maintain this site for wildlife and people to enjoy.
    “We would benefit from having more volunteer wardens to help keep an eye on the reedbed area in spring, so if any local residents are keen to help protect this special wildlife habitat, get in touch with us at Burton Mere Wetlands.”
    Police are treating the fire as a potential arson case. Anyone with any information is asked to call Ellesmere Port and Neston Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0845 458 6373.
    To enquire about the volunteer warden opportunity, email deeestuary@rspb.org.uk or telephone 0151 336 4932. For more information on the reserve and its activities, check out the website rspb.org.uk/deeestuary

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