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18 Jul 2013

Critically endangered ducklings hatch at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre

Posted in All

Come and view them at WWT Martin Mere’s award winning duckling nursery

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JIsj7zG0CY&feature=youtu.be’]

IMG_6570Three critically endangered Baer’s pochard ducklings have hatched at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre.

In 2012, the Baer’s pochard was upgraded from endangered to critically endangered in the wild after monitoring throughout the winter suggested a decline in their numbers due to loss of habitat.

Every year at WWT Martin Mere, the centre hand rears rare and endangered ducklings ensuring they have a high survival rate, maintaining good numbers of certain species in a safe environment. Visitors to the centre can wander through the award winning duckling nursery experience, at the weekend, learning all about the egg to duckling process and seeing the ducklings as they grow.  The Baer’s pochard ducklings will be in the duckling nursery over the next few weeks for visitors to see these very rare ducklings and to hear all about why this and other waterfowl species are threatened in the wild and how the admission and membership fees help to support WWTs international conservation projects.

The Baer’s pochard is a diving duck found in eastern Asia. It spends the summer in southeast Russia and northeast China, migrating in winter to southern China, Vietnam, Japan and India.

The ducklings are now three weeks old and the birds that bred at WWT Martin Mere are only one year old and came from WWT Slimbridge and bred in specially managed breeding pens.

As the summer holidays begin at WWT Martin Mere, families can discover wetlands by enjoying a huge selection of activities:

  • Pond dipping and bug hunts
  • Make a mini-rafts and a mini-nests using tweezers
  • Award winning canoe and boat tour experiences
  • Den building
  • Hand feed the birds from across the globe
  • Watch our otter family play and feed
  • Splash, climb, swing and balance on the new Rushes adventure play are

WWT Martin Mere is open every day from 9.30am to 5.30pm and parking is free of charge. Situated off the A59, it is signposted from the M61, M58 and M6.  The Centre is also accessible via the Southport to Manchester and the Liverpool to Preston line by train from Burscough Rail Stations.  Visit the web site http://www.wwt.org.uk/martinmere/ to find out what’s on all year round at Martin Mere and the other eight centres.

  • WWT

    Hi Nial, hope all is well with all your good work at Birds Korea. You will of course be aware of the critical situation faced by Baer’s Pochard, though you may not know that the survey of key wintering sites that was undertaken last winter, organised by WWT and WWF China, found just 45
    birds. The results will be published in the next issue of BirdingASIA.

    Of course there may be others that were not found during the survey, but there does seem, based on our best available knowledge, that there is a very real possibility that Baer’s Pochard could be extinct in the wild in just a matter of years. So as you rightly suggest, the captive population is likely to have an important role to play in the conservation of this species.

    For that reason, we have already taken steps to manage our captive population in line with protocols for other critically endangered species. This includes maximising breeding, hence the ducklings at Martin Mere, but as any captive birds hatched at our centres will not be part of a release scheme they are still being shown to the public. These captive birds will keep the species alive until there’s greater understanding of, and solutions to, the causes of the decline. Re-introduction couldn’t even be considered until then.

    So having our birds on show helps raise public awareness of the bird’s plight which helps to garner support for our work and Baer’s Pochard conservation in general. All of this work is at an early stage so we don’t know yet what our spend on Baer’s Pochard conservation might be.