Martin Mere 30.10.18

Cloudy at first, but bright later

A good number of the Team gathered in the Visitor Centre at Martin Mere, ready for our annual wander round this interesting site and excited by reports of the recent arrival of a small flock of Bearded Tits, seen from the newly opened reed bed walk. Thus, without further delay, we made our way to the central Discovery Hide for a first view over the main lake and were almost overwhelmed by the number and variety of the birds in view: Teal, Cormorant, Shelduck, Black-headed Gull, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Coot, Goldeneye, Greylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff and Shoveler were all present in varying number, many of them really close to the hide and offering good opportunity for close-up views. After a good half-hour or so, we at last tore ourselves away from the comfort of the hide and its avian spectacle, and made our way towards the Harrier Hide and the start of the reed bed walk. Cloud had suddenly thickened as we began our perambulation of the lakes in front of the hide, and although we heard an occasional call from deep in the reeds, no sightings were gained, apart from those of a couple of overflying Jackdaw, the occasional Black-headed Gull and, for a few at the head of our ‘caravan’, a Marsh Harrier that drifted past. Happy to be breaking new ground, however, we pressed on and were finally rewarded with the sight of a small flock of a dozen or so small birds that took off from the tops of the reeds in front of us and soared into the sky. Although we had good views of the silhouettes of these birds, the low light levels at the time meant that we could see no colour. Hence a long (and learned?) discussion took place over what they might have been. The habitat, their size, their long thick tails, clearly visible in flight, and the earlier reports of sightings, all lead us to the conclusion (80%(?) positive) that these were indeed Bearded Tits, but unfortunately there were no further sightings, so definitive confirmation had to be withheld.

Completing our walk through the reed bed, we then headed for the Utilities hide which turned out to be not as rewarding as on previous visits, due to the presence of a tractor that was  cutting grass along the nearby track. However, with lunchtime fast approaching plans were made to re-group later and we went our separate ways, although splinter groups briefly paused at the Gladstone hide and its feeders to enjoy the sight of a variety of woodland birds, Chaffinch, Blue tit, Great tit, Greenfinch and Robin all making the most of the bounty on offer.

Meeting up in the Raines Observatory – and enjoying its warmth – we were treated to the sight of large numbers of Ruff, adult and juvenile which were busily feeding right in front of us. We had ample opportunity to study the variations in the colour of their legs and indeed their bills, as in the background more Whooper Swans and Shelduck glided back and forth. There were plenty of Greylag geese in evidence on the shore off to our right, but determined scanning could not detect any of the large numbers of Pink-footed geese that had been reported to be present.

A visit to the Ron Barker hide was somewhat spoilt by the same tractor that had been encountered earlier, but eventually the mowing was finished and the tractor disappeared leaving us to some peaceful birding. Large numbers of Teal and Wigeon were noted far off on the lakes in front of the hide and a solitary Pink-footed goose appeared, grazing alongside a pair of swans. The skies had by now cleared, and in the sun the temperature had risen, high enough to entice a couple of dragonfly into the air around the hide and it was while some of us were trying to catch sight of these, that sharp eyes caught a glimpse of a raptor sitting on a metal gate in the middle distance. With several pairs of binoculars eventually trained in the right direction, the bird was finally identified as a juvenile Peregrine, looking fairly contented with its lot and not in the least hurry to procure its next meal.

This proved to be the main highlight of our time in the hide and most of us next made our way back to the Discovery hide to enjoy the spectacle of the daily feed, which brought in the usual carpet of birds, with Shelduck and the larger ducks literally swamping the smaller Ruff that only began to appear once the larger birds had had their fill. And, as the light was at last beginning to fade, on the far side of the water a substantial number of Pink-footed geese finally appeared, back to the safety of the reserve after a day spent no doubt grazing in the nearby fields. With that, our day was complete and we set off back to the car park, and home.

Bird List (BP)

  1. Cormorant
  2. Grey Heron
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. Greylag Goose
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Shelduck
  8. Wigeon
  9. Gadwall
  10. Teal
  11. Mallard
  12. Pintail
  13. Shoveler
  14. Pochard
  15. Tufted Duck
  16. Goldeneye
  17. Marsh Harrier
  18. Buzzard
  19. Kestrel
  20. Peregrine (juvenile)
  21. Pheasant
  22. Moorhen
  23. Coot
  24. Lapwing
  25. Ruff
  26. Black-tailed Godwit
  27. Black-headed Gull
  28. Feral Dove
  29. Woodpigeon
  30. Pied Wagtail
  31. Dunnock
  32. Robin
  33. Blackbird
  34. Great Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Coal Tit
  37. Magpie
  38. Jackdaw
  39. Carrion Crow
  40. Starling
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Greenfinch
  43. Goldfinch

Photos DC

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