Trip reports

Visit to Martin Mere WWT Reserve

Visit to Martin Mere WWT Reserve

Sunday, 23 January 2011

It was an early morning start for eight members of the Lancaster local group, who met at Martin Mere for opening time at 9.30am. First stop was the feeders by the InFocus shop where we saw fieldfare, reed bunting, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit, chaffinch, tree sparrow, robin, blackbird and a moorhen. A skein of pinkfeet flew over as a taster for more to come!

Swan Link hide produced the wonderful sight of several hundred whooper swans which come from Iceland to enjoy the warmer winter climate of Lancashire (although this winter I think it has been warmer in Iceland!). Duck including pintail, mallard, shelduck, wigeon, a few teal and pochard, with greylag and a couple of hybrid greylag x Canada geese were on the mere! A couple of peregrines sat on the fence at the back of the mere. Ruff fed along the end of the mere just a few feet in front of the hide and a few lapwings were resting on the islands. A solitary oystercatcher was at the back of the mere with a buzzard and a heron both perching on posts. Another buzzard flew along the fence line, causing the peregrines to take to the air and a resultant mass panic among the waders, with a flock of 28 ruff flying in a tight group before settling down on the edge of the mere.

We then made our way to the heated Raines Hide to warm up and scan the mere from the other side. Exiting Raines we spotted about a dozen tree sparrows in the top of the bushes and then a brambling in the trees near the Ron Barker Hide. The nearby feeders had several birds dropping in, including dunnock, robin, chaffinch, greenfinch, blackbird, blue tit and great tit. The meres in front of the Ron Barker hide were frozen and birdless, although a couple of mistle thrushes entertained us by perching on posts and feeding in the grass in front of the hide. We then spotted a marsh harrier patrolling the reeds and fields at the back of the mere and it later flew towards the hide, giving us excellent views. Marsh harriers have wintered at Martin Mere for the last few years - I wonder if this one spent the summer at our local RSPB reserve, Leighton Moss? Other birds seen in the ice free dyke and on the grass included shelduck, wigeon, teal and a pied wagtail.

After a welcome break for lunch and a chance to get warm again we visited the Harrier Hide for more ducks and added tufted duck and also Canada goose to our list. A pair of mute swans were on the distant dyke by the new Martin Mere reedbed walk.

The United Utilities hide gave us elevated views over the main mere and also over the reserve fields, which held over 10,000 pinkfooted geese - quite a sight (and sound), as suddenly several thousand pinkfeet took to the air and later were joined by more as a large skein flew in. A marsh harrier flew over the resting pinkfeet, which completely ignored it!

The Janet Kear hide feeding station was a hive of activity, with up to 5 brambling being in the feeding cage as another couple waited their turn. Other feeding passerines included chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, robin, reed bunting, dunnock, blue tit and great tit.

We then enjoyed a hot drink in the excellent new cafe before returning home.

Ken Harrison