Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager at the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve said: “The reserve is at its busiest in winter, playing host to tens of thousands of wetland birds visiting from the far north – just like Father Christmas!
“Not only are the large flocks a sight to behold, winter is also the best time of year to see birds of prey, with marsh harriers, peregrines and merlins regularly hunting the flocks. All of this can be enjoyed beside our pellet stove with a mince pie and a hot drink in our cosy Reception Hide.”
The site offers plenty for families to do this festive season, with a free seasonal quiz to follow around the nature trails. Wildlife Explorer backpacks are available to hire daily for £3, complete with binoculars and other nature detective equipment, and there’s even a den building area in the woodland to make a shelter from the chillier weather.
Dan added: “The recent cold snap transformed the reserve into a picturesque winter wonderland, so it’s the perfect place for a bracing walk to work off those Christmas indulgences.”
Burton Mere Wetlands is open every day except Christmas Day, 9.30am-4.30pm, with an early close of 3pm on Christmas Eve and a late opening of 10.30am on Boxing Day.
For the more adventurous visitor, a High Tide Raptor Watch event is taking place at the wilder part of the Dee Estuary reserve – Parkgate.. Visitors have the chance to see the rare phenomenon of the water covering the whole marsh, reaching the sea wall. As well as closer views of thousands of ducks, geese and waders as they are forced upstream by the rising tide, visitors may also spot rare hen harriers in search of mice and voles that are flushed from the grasses.
The High Tide Raptor Watch takes place on Thursday 4 January from 10.30am-1.30pm and is free of charge, but donations are welcomed on the day. No booking is required but for further information check out the website rspb.org.uk/deeestuary, call the reserve on 0151 3538478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.