The autumn has drifted away here on the Mersey estuary and as we say goodbye to the last of the summer migratory birds, we say hello to the fantastic diversity of bird species that will spend the winter in and around the estuary.

Black-tailed godwits, curlew, gadwall and widgeon are present in good numbers at the moment (November) and all can be easily viewed, with or without a pair of binoculars, from the car park at Wigg Island. For the more adventurous, a gentle five-minute walk from the main car park at the Catalyst Museum toward Spike Island provides excellent opportunities to watch the birds up close.

Whilst many of the bird species can be seen throughout the day, without a doubt the best time is as the tide is going out. As the water levels drop the birds congregate on the receding tide line to take advantage of the abundance of aquatic invertebrates present in the wet mud.

During the winter months be sure to keep an eye out for one of our most spectacular ducks, the shelduck. Its historic name of ‘burrowing duck’ gives away a clue to the nesting habit of this goose sized duck. Rabbit burrows, fox earths and even badger setts can be used by shelduck as nesting sites, being underground helps keep the conspicuously patterned parents away from the keen eyes of any predators.

Shelduck congregate on the mudflats during low tide in large numbers, some of the best places to see this fantastic duck are from the view platform by the Future Flower near to Widnes and from the viewing screens on Wigg island close to the Gateway bridge.

Andy – MGET Biodiversity Manager

(Images: Shelduck – Jeff Clarke)