Just back from a week up in Clitheroe, with Nina and Jack and Josh, and very briefly Pete, who popped in for a day at home between leading a Southern Australia tour and an Antarctica tour. What a hard life! We had a good day out in the 31 November with Jack and Josh. Although the weather was gloomy Martin Mere still had much to offer. As well as the fantastic Wildfowl collection a series of hides look over the wild part of the reserve, where annually over 1000 Whooper Swans spend at least part of the winter.
Many of the birds have been ringed in previous years and carry coloured rings that allow them to be identified. This one is C7B and I will try and find out it's history.
Out on the marshes there are hundreds of Pink-footed Geese, and some venture a little closer to the hides. Wild geese are always an exciting spectacle and it is a bit of a luxury to be able to watch them from the comfort of a hide, it's not quite the same without frozen toes and fingers!
As well as large numbers of Lapwings there were some waders were around, mainly on the islands in the mere. Most were Ruff with, I was told, over 50 around, and there were a few Black-tailed Godwits on one of the smaller lakes.
Although many of the Ruffs were active, as soon as I found one relatively close it tucked it's head under it's wing and went to sleep!
There were a few raptors in the area, with four Buzzards and about the same number of Marsh Harriers around. As soon as one, or above two, of the Marsh Harriers came over the flood all the waders and many of the ducks took to the wings.
As well as the large flocks of Lapwings, with a scattering of Ruffs in the air, flights of Teal and Wigeon and skeins of Pink-feet were often adorning the sky line.
As usual there were good numbers of wild Pintail around, but this bird did have me somewhat puzzled. I think it is a Pintail, just coming out of either juvenile or eclipse plumage, but any other ideas are welcome.
No such problem in identifying this handsome drake Pintail. The females are less obvious but still show a somewhat attenuated rear end.
As the afternoon progressed, and feeding time became closer the mere became more crowded with Whoopers as they left the grazing areas and flew into the mere.
With so many birds in close proximity there was a great deal of posturing and posing going on, and a fair amount of physical squabbling as well.
I had read some where that the swans hadn't has such a great breeding season, in Iceland, so it was good to see this happy family party of four young with their parents. A family clean up time, come on make sure you do the back of your neck!
When the man arrived with the barrow of food the birds first retreated from the edge, but then as he mpved past the Whoopers where quickly crowding the edge of the lake, taking as much grain as possible on board.
It all seemed quite orderly at first, although with the large swans at the front of throng there wasn't going to be much left for any other birds.