Saturday 10 March 2012: Eyes Down, Look In
High Tides at Parkgate: A 10 metre tide can create a wildlife spectacular. (Arrive well before high tide 1.5hrs before) It starts as flocks of Shelduck, Teal, Pintail and Mallard take to the air as the encroaching tide covers their usual roosting spot. They are joined by large wader flocks of Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Redshank, Knot and Curlew as they too are displaced from their roost sites further down the estuary. When the water breaks over the edge of the marsh, the ducks are forced closer on the rising water. The small land-based birds - Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Linnets and Starlings - take flight, and you may be lucky enough to see a Water Rail. As the water encroaches towards the sea wall, small mammals such as Water Voles, Wood Mice, Shrews, Brown Rats and Common Shrews retreat to higher ground.
Today it was forecast to be a 10 metre tide so encouraged by the above from the RSPB website we headed off, in plenty of time, to see the spectacular show. We stayed away from the old baths area where they RSPB had set up their post and which seemed to be populated by the serious spotters in their camo gear and enormous lenses.
Instead we plumped for a spot in the middle of the promenade where families were gathered close to the fish and chip and ice cream shops.
The crowds were gathered and the appointed time of the high tide came and went but it barely crept up to the sea wall. Perhaps the wind direction and the high pressure conspired against the tide.
We watched a pair of foxes hunting down by the waters edge for quite some time.
The crowds began to drift away but we stayed on a little bit longer and were rewarded by the sight of a marsh harrier swooping across the reed beds in search of it's prey. We saw an number egrets and then noticed a very similar, but larger bird, feeding on the margins of a pool. With the help of binoculars and the RSPB Pocket Book of Birds we identified that it was a Spoonbill. That was enough reward for the day. As were the Ward's pork pies we had enjoyed for lunch.
There is another high tide tomorrow. Should we go back again?
Edit: A look at tomorrow's forecast suggest that the air pressure will be a little higher than today and the tide predicted is also lower. So in answer to my own question, no we probably will not go back again tomorrow.