Thursday, 3 March 2016

Martin Mere

It would be rude to come to this part of Lancashire without paying a visit to Martin Mere, so we popped down for a few hours today.

Just outside the new Discovery hide is a fabulous scuplure of Sir Peter Scott, founder of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust in 1946 at Slimbridge. Martin Mere was opened to the public in 1975. The bust of Sir Peter is by Jacqueline Shackleton, the wife of Keith Shackleton, who was a friend of Sir Peter's and a fellow artist and conservationist.

The bust of Sir Peter is by Jacqueline Shackleton, the wife of Keith Shackleton, who was a friend of Sir Peter's and a fellow artist and conservationist. Peter Scott's father was Scott of the Antarctic and Kieth Shackleton was a relation of the Antarctic explorer Earnest  Shackleton. 

At Slimbridge Peter Scot discovered that the individual bill patterns on each Whooper Swan were different and were a distinctive as our finger prints. Here he catalogued the patterns of all the visiting whoopers and gave each bird an individual name. This was well illustrated in one of the early Scott books..
 Just in front of the Discovery hide a Black-tailed Godwit,  almost in Summer plumage fed undisturbed by the attention.

Shelducks are a common visitor to  the reserve with around 1100 this year.

  It is always a pleasure to see Tree Sparrows, so uncommon are they now in Kent.
A pair of Reed Buntings were also frequenting the feeders, the male disappeared when the camera pointed in his direction but the female happily posed. 

 It was interesting to see the Ross's Gull that has been lingering there. It is fully winged and a very nice looking goose.

There are no rings and it would be nice to think that it might be of wild origin. Unfortunately it is both unlikely and un-provable.

Pintails are quite numerous on the reserve, and for some reason today nearly everyone  I saw was a male, mind you they are cracking looking at this time of year.

 Wigeons are numerous in the area, and although most of them graze on the marsh and fields a few seemed to realise that in front of the hide was a good place to be as feeding time approached.

 Even bids like Shelducks, normally quite sky and easily spooked, get used to the proximity of people when food is provided at a fixed time in the same place each day. As the appointed time approached so did the swans, ducks and geese in anticipation of the treat.

 It is of course the Whoopers that are the start turn here and this year there are around 1700 on the reserve.
  It is mainly a winter visitor to the UK from Iceland, although a couple of pairs nest in the north. I don't know what the norm is,but there seemed to be around 10% young birds. Quite a low productivity rate.

A youngster already ringed.

Whooper Swans, this one with the duller bill and brownish plumage is this years bird.  

 This is Rosie, all miked up, who fed the birds and gave us a talk on the birds and the reserve as she shovelled out the food to them.

Many of the birds have coloured rings so they can be easily identified. I think that this is one that stays all year because of a bad leg. He is joined by his pals each winter.

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