|Short eared Owl - Tim Melling|
Ever wanted to experience one of the best wildlife spectacles in the region? December is the perfect month to do just that, as the RSPB invites people to enjoy a date with nature at Parkgate.
Many local people are familiar with the phenomenon of the high spring tides flooding the vast saltmarsh of the Dee Estuary, but few have been there to witness it and the wildlife spectacle that follows. Now, the
team at RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve is holding free events next week in a bid for people to see this amazing sight for themselves.
The Dee s saltmarsh is home to hundreds of small mammals, such as short-tailed field voles, which attract magnificent birds of prey including short-eared owls and hen harriers. As the incoming tide floods the marsh, the voles are flushed from their homes and move ever closer to the promenade, resulting in a feeding frenzy amongst the owls, harriers and resident kestrels.
John Langley, RSPB Information Assistant, said: It was only a month ago that I first experienced the tide touching the wall at Parkgate hard to believe it s possible considering how distant the water is on a
It's a little sad to see the voles desperately fleeing for their lives. I ve heard tales of them scrambling up the sea wall and running around people s feet, but it s a great reminder of how much wildlife is thriving on the marsh and the value of the RSPB protecting such a vast wilderness. If you re patient and you know where to look, you can usually see the birds of prey flying over the marsh, but a high tide pushes everything closer, giving even better views and more chance of exciting action.
Thousands of birds geese, ducks and waders are trying to keep on the edge of the water, so large flocks can be seen shifting around trying to find drier ground. Other predators take advantage too foxes
will be more than happy to snatch an easy meal, whilst even herons and gulls have been seen helping themselves to voles and small birds.
The extent of the spectacle is dependent on the weather conditions on the day low pressure and a strong northwesterly wind are the best to drive the tide in fully, but at this time of year the chances of that are quite good. Obviously that s something we won t know until closer to the time but we ll keep our fingers crossed and be present at Parkgate regardless, so hope people will come and join us.
To give people the best chance of experiencing this rare spectacle, the RSPB will be hosting events on Parkgate promenade on the three days of upcoming high tides; Wednesday 4, Thursday 5 and Friday 6 December. These are free of charge and there will be telescopes and binoculars for public use.
|Kestel with prey at Parkgate|
The events are part of the Wild Wirral Date with Nature which is showcasing the outstanding wildlife of the Wirral Peninsular and its coastline through a series of events supported by Wirral Borough Council this winter. Full details and dates of further events can be found on the RSPB website
For more information on the Dee Estuary reserve and its activities, please call the reserve on 0151 353 8478, or visit the website