The first 300 Whooper swans have made the 500 mile migration from Iceland to the UK to spend the winter at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre.
Numbers of Whooper Swans are expected to increase up to 2,000 over the coming months as the swans migrate from Iceland to their temporary home at Martin Mere to escape the Arctic winter, creating an amazing wildlife spectacle.
The crossing from Iceland to UK is probably the longest sea crossing undertaken by any swan species. Amazingly in 2009 two swans carrying GPS satellite transmitters completed the journey in just 8 hours at speeds of 55 – 62mph. Swans are powerful fliers and they lose an estimated 25% of their body mass whilst undertaking the migration; many of the juvenile swans may only be 3 and 4 months of age when they make this incredible journey.
Reserve manager, Tom Clare, said: “If you’d like to meet some of these Whooper swans, WWT Martin Mere holds a swan feed every day at 3pm in the new Discovery Hide where visitors can watch the fantastic view and hear the sound of the swans feeding right in front of them. They are also fed outside the Raines Observatory at 3.30pm where visitors can comfortably sit and watch in the heated hide. Both feeds include a wardens talk and the opportunity to ask questions.” The swan feeds have recently been shortlisted in the Lancashire Tourism Awards in the Best Visitor Experience category.
In other news at the centre, there are still up to 27,000 Pink-footed geese using the reserve and this has now been joined by a few thousand starlings that are displaying over the reedbed everyday from 5pm. The starlings can be viewed from the Harrier hide.
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is a haven for a host of creatures such as otters, kingfishers, geese and swans. Watch birds from the shelter of our comfortable hides, enjoy an expert walk or talk, or simply watch the world go by in our cafe overlooking our waterfowl collection – there’s plenty to do at a Wetland Centre all year round.
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9.30am to 4.30pm during winter months 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 WWT Wetland Centres.