Yesterday Liz and I spent the day at Martin Mere in Lancashire.
The Raines Observatory, at Martin Mere.
Like some of the other centres run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Martin Mere is divided into two halves:
- a nature reserve, where you can observe wild birds from hides;
- a waterfowl garden where you can see tame birds up-close.
On the nature reserve there were over a thousand whooper swans, newly arrived from the Arctic. There were also large parties of pink-footed geese and barnacle geese, the latter accompanied by a single red-breasted goose.
The waterfowl garden contains ducks, geese and other water-birds from around the world. Most of them appear to have their wings clipped to prevent them from flying away. Whilst I have mixed feelings about this, I recognise that enabling people to see birds at close-quarters can bring considerable benefits for conservation.
Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) in the waterfowl garden at Martin Mere.
Our visit to Martin Mere coincided with the North West Bird Watchers Festival. The event was extremely well attended, with hundreds of visitors roaming around both the reserve and the waterfowl garden. It was good to see a very broad cross-section of people taking an interest - hard to believe that this time last year the tabloids were full of scare stories about bird flu!