Martin Mere 31.10.17

Bright, some cloud and comparatively warm

Just after 10.30am, a dozen or so members of the Team turned down the chance to carve pumpkins or learn broomstick flying, or any of the other Halloween activities on offer at Martin Mere and left the shelter of the Visitor Centre to begin what turned out to be an excellent day’s birding.  The Discovery Hide afforded the usual good views across the mere with Lapwing, Shelduck, and Black-headed gulls all present in large numbers, mixed with a smaller count of Ruff and Pintail. Further off, on the far side of the water were a few Whooper Swans and rather more Greylag Geese. Stopping to scan across the water from the behind the new screens, en route to the Janet Kear hide, several members spied a Common Snipe in the mud along the water’s edge and, further on, a Goldcrest flitted back and forth amongst the bushes alongside the path. The hide itself provided plenty of interest including a small party of Tree Sparrows, a mix of tit mice, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a pair of Reed Buntings all of which were flying back and forth onto the feeders, enjoying the food and scattering a fair amount of seed to be scavenged on the floor below by a family of rats that looked particularly well fed.

The excitement really began, however, at the United Utilities hide, where first a resting Buzzard was the focus of our attention, which was then directed towards a male Kingfisher that was apparently  taking a break and gave everyone in the group ample time to admire its electric blue coloration, before it eventually flew off. A Marsh Harrier next put in an appearance – the first of several sightings of at least two birds during the rest of the day – flying close over the marsh in front of the hide and revealing evidence of some damage to one of its wings. A final scan over the fields revealed the presence of some Pink-footed Geese which were not easy to spot as they were feeding in the long grass and only raising their heads every so often. The aptly named Harrier Hide, our next port of call, gave further views of a Marsh Harrier, but the water in front of the hide was comparatively empty of birdlife with only half-a-dozen Gadwall, a few Mallard and a solitary Little Egret on view.

After lunch, we reassembled in the warmth of the Raines Observatory, enjoying close views of Shelduck and Ruff, before setting out towards the Ron Barker hide. A brief pause at ‘Owl Corner’ proved fruitless, although one lucky (?) member was ‘annointed’ from above. A detour to Kingfisher Hide produced more sightings of Reed Buntings and also of Kestrel that appeared to swoop in, perhaps trying to take prey from the feeder. At the Ron Barker hide there was plenty to see, a pair of Mute Swan and a small group of Shoveler amongst the large numbers of Wigeon and Teal and, in the distance, large numbers of Starlings strung out along some telephone wires. One of the Marsh Harriers put in another appearance, and besides a flypast on the far side of the marsh, one of these birds landed a little way off to tear at a dead swan, watched by two or three hungry Carrion Crows who were somewhat impatiently waiting their turn for the feast.

With the light beginning to fade and a corresponding drop in temperature the group began a trek back toward the Visitor Centre and the car park to begin the journey home after a day that had been full of interest and spectacle. A few of us, however, first stopped to watch the feeding of the birds in front of the Discovery hide, always a sight worth seeing, no matter how often one might have witnessed it, and always remarkable for the way in which the different species of bird never seem to mingle, rather keeping to their own groups and producing a vivid, almost colour-coded, picture. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1c50

Bird List (MH)

  1. Mute swan
  2. Canada goose
  3. Whooper swan
  4. Greylag goose
  5. Pink-footed goose
  6. Shelduck
  7. Wigeon
  8. Mallard
  9. Gadwall
  10. Shoveler
  11. Pintail
  12. Teal
  13. Pochard
  14. Tufted duck
  15. Pheasant
  16. Cormorant
  17. Little egret
  18. Grey heron
  19. Marsh harrier
  20. Common buzzard
  21. Kestrel
  22. Moorhen
  23. Coot
  24. Lapwing
  25. Ruff
  26. Common snipe
  27. Black-headed gull
  28. Herring gull
  29. Great black-backed gull
  30. Lesser black-backed gull
  31. Stock dove
  32. Wood pigeon
  33. Feral pigeon
  34. Collared dove (juvenile)
  35. Kingfisher
  36. Wren
  37. Robin
  38. Blackbird
  39. Redwing
  40. Long-tailed tit
  41. Blue tit
  42. Coal tit
  43. Great tit
  44. Starling
  45. Magpie
  46. Jackdaw
  47. Raven
  48. Carrion crow
  49. Tree sparrow
  50. Chaffinch
  51. Greenfinch
  52. Goldfinch
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