Martin Mere column: So much on this winter

A newly arrived Berwick swan at Martin Mere wildlife sanctuary. The swans have arrived early, which some beliebe heralds a cold winter
A newly arrived Berwick swan at Martin Mere wildlife sanctuary. The swans have arrived early, which some beliebe heralds a cold winter

Every year, as thousands of Whooper swans arrive back at WWT Martin Mere to spend the winter on the reserve, we do see a number of familiar swan faces which allow us to build up family histories of our swans.

We can identify individual swans by their leg rings which each have an individual code made up of 3 letters or numbers. Females have the rings on their left leg and males have it on their right.

Reserve Manager, Tom Clare, said: “The amount of detail we have about swans now is amazing. Take Mill for example (YCT). Mill is a male that we have been following since 2002.

“He has had 3 different ring numbers, as he seems to have developed the skill of breaking them, and over the years, 2 separate female mates.

“In total he has helped to raise at least 35 cygnets and he has returned this year with his mate C6A and 2 more cygnets. There is also YCV who was the first ringed bird back this year and being ringed in February. These are good ones to spot whilst you are watching the daily swan feeds at 3pm and 3.30pm. “

With over 600 whooper swans, 16,000 Pink-footed geese, 30,000 starlings displaying every night at 4pm and the opening of a new 50m Discovery hide this weekend, November is the perfect time to visit Martin Mere for one of the best autumn wildlife spectacles in the North West.

If you are thinking of a visit this weekend, WWT Martin Mere is hosting the North West Bird Watching Festival.

Listen to a stellar line up of guest speakers at the event, including BBC Springwatch’s Iolo Williams, leading animal photographer Andy Rouse and RSPB’s Graham Jones talking about the hen harrier project and Mark Avery.

“You can also attend a range of wildlife talks, pick up tips from photography seminars and workshops, see demonstrations, network with experts to learn more about our feathered friends, browse through lots of wildlife and bird watching goodies, and round their day off with some delicious homemade cake at the Mere Side Cafe .

Find out more at www.wwt.org.uk/nwbwf.

WWT Martin Mere is open every day from 9.30am to 4.30pm 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 centres.