Trip reports

Martin Mere - 18th November 2018

Martin Mere - 18th November 2018
MJ Fisher

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Sunday morning, 7 a.m. and 30 people met up for our last field trip for 2018, to Martin Mere in Lancashire, operated by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. After a breakfast stop at Sandbach Services we arrived a fraction after 10 a.m.

The reserve hosts a collection of exotic and native waterfowl which can be observed close up, but its lakes and water channels are interspersed with some light woodland and reedbeds and bordered by farmland. This all results in an effective mix of habitats for a varied birdlife and is easily viewed from 7 spacious hides and several viewing screens.

Very obvious were the large quantities of ducks, swans and geese, particularly this time of year with Pink-footed geese and Whooper swans present, albeit that most of the Pink-footed geese spend their time off the reserve during the day. Greylag geese, Wigeon, Shelduck and Mallard were particularly numerous and Canada geese, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, and Tufted duck were part of the massed hoards on the water.

The most evident waders were Ruff which were present in large numbers and could be seen close up from hides. This gave a good opportunity to study the variations in leg colour and size this species embraces. Other waders identified were Golden Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Redshank and Black-tailed godwit.

Grebes were scarce with just Little grebe being recorded as were Water rail, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Little egret. A few sightings of Kingfisher were enjoyed by some group members.

The paths through the woodland areas, helped by feeding stations, attracted a range of species including Tree sparrow, Greenfinch, Treecreeper, Dunnock, Great spotted woodpecker. The thrush family were well represented with Blackbird, Mistle thrush, Song thrush, Fieldfare, and Redwing all recorded.

Smaller species identified included Stonechat, Cetti's warbler, Skylark and Meadow pipit.

Overhead and on perches the raptors were being watchful and monitoring opportunities to fatten up for winter. There were many good sightings particularly Common buzzard, Kestrel and Marsh Harrier and cameo appearances by Sparrowhawk and Peregrine.

There may not have been too many unexpected sightings reported, although opportunities to see Whooper swans and Pink-footed geese are limited so were welcome. However the weather had been very good to us with persistent sunshine and a very gentle breeze. This resulted in us keeping unseasonably warm and brought out the colours and sheen of birds such as Starlings, Lapwings and Pheasants, encouraging appearances by Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies and generally infused a vibrancy throughout the reserve.

71 species were seen, excluding 5 which have not been included in the count as they may have been part of the collection rather than truly wild: Spoonbill, Mandarin, Eider, Goldeneye and Smew.

We left the reserve at 4 p.m. and reached Sutton Coldfield at 6.55 p.m. after an uneventful journey home. A good day out? Most definitely.

A break from our trips for a few months now and therefore time to thank all those that have supported our coach outings during 2018 and to wish everyone a wonderful festive season. Hope to see you all again in February!

Tony Green
Sutton Coldfield RSPB - Field Trip Organiser