Burton Manor Gardens and Burton Mere Wetlands, Coach Trip Sat 10th Feb 2018

It was a dark, damp, dismal morning when two dozen members of the Rochdale Field Nats met for their monthly coach trip. Some had struggled through snow to make it to the rendezvous, but their efforts were rewarded. What a difference 60 miles can make!

Although it was overcast when we arrived at Burton Manor, the temperature was noticeably warmer and you tell that spring was in the air. During our tour round Burton Manor gardens we were delighted to see snowdrops (of various varieties) crocuses, daffodils, primrose, daisy and anemone as well as rhododendron and cherry in blossom. The catkins were out as well as the gorse. Surely a sight for sore eyes.

After a pleasant walk along the Cheshire lanes we then entered the RSPB Burton Mere reserve. This is a relatively new reserve with “all mod cons” including a lovely warm log fire and a warm welcome from the RSPB staff. The huge picture window overlooks the main mere where there were literally thousands of birds. Flocks of wigeon, curlew and redshank mingled with teal, mallard and tufted duck. Over them all floated the queen of the reserve – a magnificent female marsh harrier. She gave us several fantastic aerobatic displays during the day as she hunted across the reed beds.

Lunch was taken at the Marsh Covert hide but the elusive water pipit didn’t make an appearance. However we were treated to splendid very close views of a pair of stonechat, who sat obligingly on the wire fence posing for photographs.

After lunch we walked to the Inner Marsh Farm hide on the far side of the reserve and some members climbed to the Burton Point viewpoint overlooking the Dee estuary where there are the remains of an Iron Age hill-fort. From there it was leisurely walk back to the coach where the Friends of Burton Manor Gardens were waiting for us. We were treated to tea and biscuits in the newly restored Glass House which was really impressive (the Glass House, not the tea…..but that was pretty good too). A little stroll round the walled garden and a visit to the “Not Just Books” bookshop rounded off our day.

In total 64 species of birds were seen, including birds of prey (peregrine, sparrowhawk, buzzard and kestrel as well as the marsh harrier), waterfowl (shelduck, shoveller, godwit, gadwell and pintail), geese (pink-footed, greylag and canada) and garden birds (goldfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch, g.s woodpecker etc). 65 species if you include the ostrich on the way there 😉

Lots of fungi were spotted including honey fungus, jelly ear, velvet shank, coral spot and yellow brain fungus but no mammals (apart from the molehills) and, not surprisingly, no butterflies, moths or dragonflies were seen.

It was was a dark, damp, dismal evening when two dozen members of the Rochdale Field Nats returned from their monthly coach trip. What an excellent day out we all had, thanks to our leaders Karen and Rick Cowley. Much better than staying in rainy Rochdale……..