WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre has experienced an utterly unexpected arrival of a single Bewick’s Swan – adding to speculation that we are in for a long and bitter winter. The previous earliest record at Martin Mere was on the 19th October 1980. The current cold weather across eastern Europe has undoubtedly brought these birds to the UK.
Not just the arrival of the Bewick’s Swan, in fact the first major influx of the bigger Whooper Swan has occurred with at least 112 birds counted on the Mere including the first cygnets and the return of Ruby (swan XLM) who was ringed as Martin Mere in March as our 40th anniversary swan. Whooper swans come from Iceland and they are much larger swans with a yellow point on their bill; in contrast Bewicks are from eastern Europe, smaller birds and just have a spot of yellow on their bill.
Reserve manager, Tom Clare, said: “It’s great to see that Ruby has returned to winter at Martin Mere, she was only young when we ringed her in March and I am confident that we can now follow her throughout her life. The Bewick swan arrival is great news for the centre, you don’t know what to expect from one day to the next, but with the swans and 30,000 geese on site, this is a great time to visit.”
Historically Lancashire had similar numbers of wintering Whooper and Bewick’s but since the 1990’s the numbers of Bewick’s wintering has declined dramatically, from a peak at Martin Mere of 1000 to only one sighting last year. This drop off is primarily as a result of milder winters on continental Europe although the Bewick’s Swan numbers across Europe have also declined by a 1/3. In contrast the Icelandic Whooper Swan counts have seen increases with a recent record count of nearly 2500 on the reserve.
With October half term creeping up on us we have loads of spooky activities going on at WWT Martin Mere for the whole family to enjoy. The fun starts from Saturday 24 October to Sunday 1 November. Why not dive straight into the Halloween spirit and come carve your own pumpkin with the kids, creating your own scary faces!; or explore the grounds to find our hidden pumpkins for a chocolate treat. New in 2015, the Phantom Raspberry Blower will be lurking around, but be careful, he may jump out and raspberry you during the day or at our daily raspberry blowing competition where you can win fun prizes.
Martin Mere is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9.30am to 6pm during summer months (and 4.30pm during the winter) 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.
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