Martin Mere 08.12.14

Overcast, cool and strengthening wind

A much depleted group gathered in the Visitor Centre at Martin Mere just after 10am, conscious that the weather forecast for later was not very promising. However, breaking into two small sub-groups we determined to get as much as we could from this extensive site while we had the opportunity.  The Swan Hide provided excellent and easy viewing of whooper swans, pintails, shelduck, greylag geese and mallard, but for other species such as widgeon and teal rather more effort was required as they were not present, at least for the moment, in large numbers. A brief transfer to the Harrier Hide was accompanied by the chattering of goldfinch feeding in the alders alongside the path. At the hide the highlight was undoubtedly the brief appearance of a marsh harrier which flew low over the reed beds.  Coming to rest on the top of an electricity pylon, it soon attracted the attention of two crows, who were unable, however, to disturb it despite a certain amount of effort on their part.

Our groups were temporarily reunited in the warmth of the Raines Observatory. Here we were treated to the sight of a small flock of ruff and the markedly smaller female reeve, the main wader seen at Martin Mere over the winter, acco_MG_0075rding to one of the WWT Rangers. We also learnt from him something about their characteristics and migrations, some ringed birds apparently having come from as far away as Russia. After a quick lunch the two groups once again separated,  one to continue towards the Janet Kear Hide from where the group was amused by the antics of at least 12 goldfinches and 9 greenfinches vying for perches on the hanging feeders. The flashes of colours, red, gold and green in the sunshine were stunning. The Reed Buntings had commandeered the flat feeders and were not allowing the tits and finches much of a look-in. The other group made their way to Ron Barker Hide, but not before being shown the well-hidden roost of a Tawny Owl which could just be made out amongst the ivy-clad trunk of a tall tree close to the path. The Ron Barker Hide produced little in the way of new sightings, although there was much talk of kingfishers, and it was only on the way back towards the Swan Hide for the scheduled feeding that a number of woodland birds including wren and dunnock were added to the day list.

From well before 3pm there was evident a growing avian excitement as small groups of swans flew in, and there was a general movement of wild fowl towards the feeding area adjacent to Swan Hide. The sight of hundreds of birds being fed was as spectacular, and noisy,  as ever, and it was interesting to see an apparent pecking order (pun intended) where swans had pride of place, closely followed by mallard and shelduck, with others, including, perhaps surprisingly given their size, greylag geese, only getting a look-in much later.

IMG_1197Soon after, swiftly fading light, reminding all that the shortest day was not far off, suggested that it was now time to conclude what had been an interesting outing, not, after all, cut short by the weather.

Bird List for Martin Mere (CG +BP)

  1. Blackbird
  2. Chaffinch
  3. Greenfinch
  4. Robin
  5. Tree sparrow
  6. Blue tit
  7. Mallard
  8. Shelduck
  9. Lapwing
  10. Greylag goose
  11. Pintail
  12. Pink-footed goose
  13. Widgeon
  14. Black-headed gull
  15. Great black-back gull
  16. Lesser black-back gull
  17. Herring Gull
  18. Coot
  19. Moorhen
  20. Teal
  21. Cormorant
  22. Goldfinch
  23. Marsh Harrier
  24. Pochard
  25. Tufted Duck
  26. Heron
  27. Magpie
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Ruff
  30. Starling
  31. Tawny Owl
  32. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  33. Buzzard
  34. Wren
  35. Reed Bunting
  36. Great tit
  37. Woodpigeon
  38. Dunnock
  39. Pheasant
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