RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve on the Dee Estuary will celebrate its 10th anniversary this month by offering free entry to all visitors on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September.
The site near Neston, Cheshire, which forms part of the wider RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, has been transformed from arable farmland into a haven for wildlife. During the last weekend of September, locals and visitors alike will be welcomed onto the site free of charge to see just how much the reserve has developed over the past decade.
Dan Trotman, Visitor Experience Manager for the RSPB Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: “It’s genuinely hard to believe it’s already ten years since Burton Mere Wetlands opened, and sometimes harder to believe it has all been created from a waterlogged crop field. We’ve had some tremendous conservation successes in that time, along with attracting a growing number of visitors who love spending time in nature and appreciating the wonderful wildlife spectacles of the Dee Estuary.
“Our dedicated management of the wetlands has resulted in the arrival of some new breeding birds like avocets, marsh harriers, bearded tits and bittern, with great white egrets joining their now relatively common but equally exotic cousins, little egrets. We’re delighted to have seen steady increases in some of our winter birds that the estuary is especially important for, most notably pink-footed geese which have more than trebled in number to over 20,000 in that time.
“With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we’ve also invested heavily in our facilities, including extending our fully accessible nature trails to a new hide which replaced the small, aging hide dating back to 1992 when we were first allowed limited visitor access to the converted farmland, then known as Inner Marsh Farm. Now, visitors of all ages, abilities and interests can explore miles of scenic walks through a beautiful, lush landscape filled with rich and varied wildlife.”
The anniversary coincides with Great Big Green Week (18–26 September), a national week of events led by The Climate Coalition and supported by the RSPB. Thousands of events are set to take place across the UK, celebrating how communities are taking action to tackle climate change and protect green spaces.
The RSPB Dee Estuary reserve is no stranger to new arrivals as a result of rising temperatures, and like many protected sites is a vital place to help wildlife adapt and offer new homes for nature when needed.
Dan added: “The Dee Estuary now supports several exotic-looking birds, like little egrets which have been spreading northwards through the UK for the past couple of decades, but their rarer cousins great white egrets and cattle egrets have started to reach this area in recent years. Spoonbills are also now a regular summer visitor to the estuary and are expected to nest here before long. It’s not just birds that are feeling the effects of climate change, with Essex skipper butterflies – a clue being in the name – found here for the first time in 2020, and this year a golden-ringed dragonfly was found on the reserve, just a fourth record for Cheshire.
“We know there are plenty of locals who may have visited us in the early days of the reserve, or perhaps are curious but have never ventured down here, so we hope this free entry weekend to mark our 10th birthday will encourage them to check us out, see some sensational wildlife and be inspired to support the RSPB to continue this vital conservation work across the Dee Estuary.”
The reserve’s anniversary weekend takes place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September, when along with RSPB members enjoying free entry, everyone else can too (usually £6 per adult, £3 per child). There is no need to book, just visit any time between 9.30am and 5pm for the friendly team to welcome you, with the reserve staying open until 7pm throughout September.
A range of light refreshments are available to buy, plus a small selection of RSPB shop products to browse, particularly binoculars, bird feeders and other accessories to help wildlife in your garden, which can be ordered at the reserve for free home delivery.
Pictured - RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.
Photograph - Paul Jubb.