The tides were not suitable for sea fishing at any of our favorite marks last weekend so after a lazy Saturday we woke on Sunday to glorious sunshine. After having a quick look at the days weather forecast we decided to brave the crowds and go and give the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust reserve of Martin Mere a visit.
This is where last months BBC programme, Autumn Watch was broadcast from and as it’s only a short journey from our front door after packing a flask, some snacks, binoculars, new camera and a good bird book we set off and arrived at about 11am.
Even though it is only a few miles away we’ve only been here a couple of times and pulling into the car park we remembered why, it was packed! We quickly entered and made our way as far from the crowds as possible.
Martin Mere consists of 2 main areas; the ornamental wildfowl section which is all fenced off and contains many different birds from around the world and the ‘meres’ which is where the main action is.
Every year tens of thousands of wildfowl use this area as their wintering grounds and the reserve is well know for the huge numbers of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans that can be seen from the hides.
Even though we are still in Autumn the numbers of wildfowl is still impressive and as the colder months approach these number will steadily increase.
On our walk from hide to hide we managed to see all the usual suspects that are listed on the Martin Mere website but the most spectacular thing about this reserve is the sheer quantity of birds.
They were everywhere. From the smallest wading birds such as Ruff, tiny Teal and Widgeon, massive flocks of Lapwing through to the hundred plus Whooper Swans and the thousands of Pink-footed geese. It’s impossible not to be moved by such sights.
We managed to coincide one of our hide visits to a feeding session where grain is put out for visiting Whooper Swans.
It was hard to believe that these were completely wild birds that only a few days ago were in Iceland. As the girl approached with a barrow full of grain they were almost climbing in to get at the food and it wasn’t long until it was almost impossible to see the ground beneath the feet of so many different birds.
We saw that quite a lot of cygnets had arrived since Autumn Watch and it was amazing to watch what can only be described as a riot break out amongst the birds as they squabbled to get a good feed.
We made our last circuit of the hides and thanks to some very helpful people who let us use their telescopes we saw a Merlin perched on a fence, a Buzzard on a gate post and then right at the end we saw a Marsh Harrier effortlessly patrolling the area.
To see three species of birds-of-prey only fifteen minutes from our doorstep made the entire trip worthwhile. We’ll certainly be going back but maybe when the crowds have died away and winter has set in.