Full English and a full day at Martin Mere
We spooked a barn owl as we arrived at the hotel at 2.30am. It wheeled up under the streetlight and disappeared into the trees. Once we checked in, it was heads down for a welcome few hours sleep, before completing the final couple of miles to Martin Mere, where a simply amazing breakfast was waiting for us in the cafe.
After breakfast, Reserve Warden Tom Clare took Mike round the reserve. Mike got a full briefing on feeding the whooper swans, which he’d be doing solo later, in front of a full crowd of volunteers and visitors. The whoopers may look similar to the Bewick’s swans, but they’re a bit bigger, as is the barrow of grain used to feed them from. It looked like it was taking all Mike’s strength to stop it from tipping over in the strong winds.
Tom proudly showed us one of the reserve’s key assets – Martin Mere’s herd of English Longhorn cattle – beautiful beasts they are too, and they help keep the reserve in tip top condition.
After a quick tour of the reedbed, it was off to see the beavers. It was incredible to see how they have modified their enclosure, felling the trees and constructing their vast and complex lodge. It was a real priviledge to have a close look at their work.
After lunch, Mike joined BBC Lancashire’s John Gillmore for an outside broadcast from Martin Mere. Then it was a full afternoon of swan feeding before prepping for this evening’s talk to yet another sell out crowd.
It will be a quick turnaround after the show, as we’re dashing down to Birkenhead to catch the 10pm overnight ferry to Belfast. Looking at the gale howling outside the window, I hope neither of us succumb to seasickness!
Wild Svalbard Barnacle Geese migrate 3000km from Svalbard Island in the High Arctic to winter on Scotland’s Solway Firth, with thousands feeding at WWT’s Caerlaverock Wetland Centre. These magnificent animals may fly the entire distance in two days.
At Martin Mere a small wintering flock of around 50 – 70 Barnacle Geese have just arrived. The question is, are these new visitors even more epic migrators than our Pink-feet and Whoopers who have flown the 800km from Iceland?
No these geese have made their extraordinary migration all the way from Knowsley in Liverpool, which is around 20 – 25km from Martin Mere. They are a feral flock (descended from captive birds) but they seem to have kept the urge to migrate. If you’re lucky you will see these feral Barnacle Geese which are just as striking as their wild cousins, joined by another feral Red-Breasted Goose (sorry it’s not a wild one).
More details of the awesome migration of the wild Svalbard Barnacle Geese can be found on our website.
The current weather is dominated by south westerly winds. These mild conditions have seemingly put migration on hold, with Whooper numbers levelling out at 800 for the last couple of days and the Pink- feet staying at a constant 15-16000. Hopefully the rumours of a cold snap coming our way, will drag in the rest of the wildfowl. Who knows, maybe a rare bird or two to join the Knowlsley Barnacles.
Click here to take a look at what I got upto on the morning of my birthday.
The story from Martin Mere so far…
We’ve seen over 8,000 pink-footed geese arrive, and 50 whooper swans, which is less than last year due to the hot weather but numbers are now beginning to rise. We hope to see up to 2,000 whoopers by mid November.
September is WWT’s wellbeing month
We have a variety of activities at the Centre including the promotion of the walks, talks and canoe safari as light forms of exercise. We have set up a few partnerships with Wellbeing month as well – Tescos and the Vegetarian Society have both put displays out at the centre and we have formed a partnership with Aqua Spa and Beauty in Southport. We are giving away free vouchers to Martin Mere for everyone who has a fish pedicure at Aqua Spa and Beauty in September and they have kindly donated vouchers to us as a competition prize for our sensory trail.
The sensory trail is 5 locations at the centre to see, hear, taste, touch and smell. You have to find each location and write three words to describe the sense, ultimatley creating a Martin Mere sensory experience – submitting your words at the Information Desk.
The geese should be arriving back soon so hopefully the sensory trail will be a welcome addition to all the adults that will be visiting over that time.
In other news our new chef is starting next week – he will be straight into work as we have the AGM here next Thursday, The week after next I will put a profile of our chef on this diary and he can tell you all about his new ideas.
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