News archive

December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Marsh Harrier (female), close up of head

What a difference a day makes !

Fortunately, Martin Mere has a number of excellently placed hides all within a short walk of each other. As a result, we were able to co-ordinate our movements with the slight slacking of the rain and winds - although this was not an easy task. With over 1,500 whooper swans on the reserve we were never out of earshot of their contact calls and we were treated to a spectacular sight of them feeding within touching distance of us. Sadly the 2 bewick swans that had turned up at the reserve were nowhere to be seen but the reserve staff said that in bad weather they rarely came to the reserve. Ducks could be seen everywhere with huge number of pintail, teal, pochard, tufted duck, wigeon and the odd goldeneye, gadwall and ruddy duck. Although large numbers of lapwing were present they tried to stay out of the howling wind and generally only became noticeable when they took to the air when a bird of prey arrived. Small numbers of ruff and dunlin graced the main pool area but most of the time they too sought shelter from the wind. Huge numbers of greylag and pink footed geese 'honked' their way across virtually every square inch of the reserve and whilst we were able to locate 15 or so of the barnacle geese, we unfortunately could not find the red-breasted goose which has been associating with the flock. Despite the appalling weather, small birds still used the various feeding stations around the location giving excellent close views of tree sparrow, green and chaffinch as well as reed bunting. One of our group, Margaret, found a great spotted woodpecker not once but twice as we walked around the paths. Again the poor weather was a deterrent to birds of prey, who like to us the thermals created by the sun's heat to help them hunt. A couple of very wet buzzards hunted the fields and we thought they would be our only raptors when suddenly a female marsh harrier floated past the hide, giving excellent views. We all retreated to the centre's restaurant for a celebratory cup of tea !