Sunday, 26 December 2010

Marton and Martin Mere

Another bitterly cold day, but some great birding none the less. We started off at Marton Mere near Blackpool, where there was an adult drake Ring-necked Duck, with a decent supporting cast of at least six Long-eared Owls and two Water Rails.

Then we headed to Martin Mere where the Whooper Swan flock of over 1700 birds contained at least five Bewick's Swans.

Spot the Long-eared Owl. This bush contained at least three birds, and there were three others in adjacent bushes, but you could easily have walked past and not noticed. The photo on the left was taken at 12x magnification, so imagine how difficult it would be with no extra magnification!

Two different Water Rails. The bird on the left seems to be shading the water with its wings to stop the reflection so that it can see potential prey easier. Some herons do this. I wonder what it is preying on. It looks pretty cold to me!

Bewick's Swan (left) and with a Whooper (right). It's not only the amount of yellow on the bill which distinguishes Bewick's from Whooper, there is quite a large size difference (compare the legs!), and Bewick's has a much cuter head shape. A quick look at my database reveals that as recently as 1991 there were at least 800 Bewick's Swans at Martin Mere, and even in 1997 there were over 100, but these days anything in double figures is a decent count. Since wildfowl learn how to migrate from their parents, it makes me wonder if Bewick''s Swans will ever return to Martin Mere in their former numbers, even if the winters become a lot harsher again. Perhaps as a species, they've just forgotten were Martin Mere is.

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