Spring is in the air at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre with the first 5 avocets returning to the centre on 19 February as part of the spring migration.
The avocets, now currently 11, will remain at the centre until early August, using the reserve as their breeding ground. In the past, numbers have reached 100 birds and it is hoped that this year could bring record numbers. Avocets spend the winter either on the south coast or in Mediterranean countries and they chose to spend the summer in the UK.
Just 10 years ago, avocets were quite rare in this area but WWT Martin Mere has been able to introduce a number of initiatives to help manage the wetlands, ensuring the habitat is perfect for summer wading birds in the hope to raise the number of birds breeding. These initiatives have included the purchasing of rare breed cattle who act like lawn mowers with their selective grazing patterns, hay making in late summer and early autumn once all of the youngsters have hatched and left their nests, and by controlling the water level we can adapt the habitat for the needs of summer and wintering birds.
Centre Manager, Nick Brooks, said: “The fact that we are continuing to raise numbers of these wading birds is a testament to the reserve wardens for their hard work in making the land suitable for waders to breed. Spring and summer is a really nice time at the centre to watch migrating wader birds and their chicks, and we are looking forward to yet another successful breeding season.”
The next month is a cross-over of seasons with 1200 Whooper swans still on the reserve up until mid-March as well as spring migrants arriving at the centre offering fantastic photography opportunities for all visitors to enjoy.
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.