Monday, 2 January 2012

A trip 'Up North'....29th-31st December 2011

North West to be precise, Burscough, Ormskirk, Lancashire! WWT Martin Mere was a reserve I have had on my 'to do' list. So on Boxing Day on impulse I booked a farm B&B that just happened to have it's land bordering the reserve and what a good B&B it was too! The farm won a woodland farm award in 1985 after planting a large number of trees, they took part in 'Operation Tree Sparrow' in 2004 which helped to create the ideal environment for birds on their land and an official bird survey discovered they had a huge number of bird species thriving in the area! Well done to them! Around the farm were Starling, House sparrow, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin, I am sure given more time and better weather I would have sighted Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Skylark. Whooper Swans passed over the farmland early in the mornings, great to see and hear!
It was a very, no extremely windy day on the Thursday (29th)! A visit to RSPB Marshside Nature Reserve would have been much more enjoyable if it had stopped raining and the wind had died down somewhat, as it was you couldn't face the wind as it took your breath!! Birds viewed across the marsh from Sandgrounders Hide were Wigeon, Teal, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Canada Geese, Pink Footed Geese, Curlew (1), Starlings and a fantastic display of speed from a hunting Peregrine!! High Tide was at 1.30pm but with the strong wind there was no way I was going to get out the scope and scan the shoreline. The visibilty was very poor but with binocular views it was clear that there were hundreds and hundreds of birds across the shoreline, maybe a visit sometime in the future will be more productive as far as positive species sightings go.
Friday the 30th and the wind had died down but goodness me did it didn't stop all day! However the weather did not stop the enjoyment of walking around WWT Martin Mere. On arrival a volunteer was most helpful in giving information about the reserve. The first stop was a coffee break then a quick walk around the 'Collection' area. The Asian short-clawed Otters were a real treat to see...when they kept still which wasn't very! The male Eider Ducks were very vocal but the females were not impressed as they ushered the males away, comical to see. A smart looking duck that I rarely have the pleasure of seeing 'in the wild'!
Views from the Ron barker Hide would have been better in drier weather however the two Marsh Harriers that were gliding low over the marshes and putting the Lapwings and Ducks up were an absolute delight to see. Highlight birds seen were Pintail, Shoveler, Shelduck, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard,and Ruff. High numbers of Pinkfeet, Whooper Swans, Lapwings and Wigeon were a joy to see! Tree Sparrows were seen around and on the feeders, I was particularly pleased to see these birds!
I noticed that Martin Mere has relatively few Jackdaws, Magpies and Crows in comparison to Slimbridge where every other bird seemed to be a Corvid. Very few visitors were about due no doubt to the torrential rain during the day, however it did not deter me, maybe 'Midlanders' are made of stronger! I purchased a signed copy of 'The Urban Birder' by David Lindo from the WWT shop, judging by the first couple of chapters it was a good purchase.
The people I spoke to 'Up North' during the short trip were all very helpful and friendly.
A good trip to end 2011 with and one which I hope to do again maybe in the Spring or early Autumn 2012.

Whooper Swans, Burscough.

RSPB Marshside


WWT Martin Mere.....Collection Birds.

Andean Goose

Black-necked Swan

Chilean flamingo

Coscoroba Swan

Crested Screamer

Eider Duck

Patagonian Crested Duck


White-fronted Goose

Pigeon Tree

Tree Sparrow

View from Ron Barker Hide, WWT Martin Mere

Whooper Swans on 'The Mere'


  1. You seem to have made the most of it despite the weather. Took my (wheelchair-using) mother to see the floodlit feeding of the Whooper Swans at Welney the other evening only to dicover when we arrived that the lift wasn't working so mum would not be able to get to the viewing area. We left in disgust but will try again later. Used to see lots of Eiders on the Northumbrian coast - they make a wonderful noise, like a shocked Frankie Howard - "OOOOOoooo!"

  2. I hope you have better luck when you make a return visit to Welney John!

    You are so right..a shocked Frankie Howard is spot! A wonderful noise to hear and head actions to see with the Eiders, a delightful Duck!

  3. Great to see some familiar views Pam,some good bird pics too! Sorry to hear that our NW weather let you down but glad that you made the best of it and were still able to get out and about!

  4. Thanks Ruth.

    I am pleased you enjoyed the familiar views!
    One thing we cannot plan for isn't it the weather, a great trip nonetheless.