Day two in my tale of reserve visits for the week and we were only just beginning. After Leighton Moss the day before we decided to stick a little closer to Preston for our next reserve. Did you guess what is was?
The new (ish) Wildlife Trust Brockholes reserve is familiar to me as I visit it almost weekly to volunteer. But as with many familiar places I've never really taken the time to properly explore it before. This week was the perfect opportunity so we took a map from the information centre on the floating visitor island and headed out into the unknown.
Pausing first on the floating island we looked at ducks and waders on the Meadow Lake that was previously a gravel pit. We walked round to the Number One Pit (which I didn't even realise existed until then) and looked at curlew, lapwings and lots and lots of gulls, mainly blackheaded but who knows what might have been hidden amongst them. A quick wander round the Meadow Trail and a visit to the shop (of course) made the visit complete and we headed off onto the third and final reserve.
Compared to Brockholes (free except for £2 parking) the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Martin Mere centre seemed quite expensive at over £10 for an adult visit. It would have been free with membership but I don't visit often enough to really make it worthwhile. It is a lovely site though with a great cafe (a lunch of lasagne if you were wondering) and lots of rare and exotic wildfowl to look at within their captive bird area. The real interest comes from the wild though. Outside the fences that keep the captive birds in others fly free and clearly love Martin Mere for its habitat and abundance of food. From the hides we saw just under a thousand whooper swans and there were sightings of bewick and mute swans too. It wasn't just swans that were plentiful as hundreds of ducks swam around in the pools and lakes on site. Teal, pintail, mallard, widgeon and pochard were all there and I think I've finally got the hang of identifying them all.
Although the WWT only have 9 sites across the UK, and much of the wildlife feels tamer than you normally expect from a reserve they do know how to create or find wildlife spectacles on a grand scale. The swan feeding at 3pm would have been fantastic if we'd been able to stay for it.
It was fantastic to visit so many great places for nature in just two short days and I'm pleased to be reminded of the fantastic work the three organisations do for wildlife and people. There are reserves all over the country so who not visit one near you. Find a quiet walk, a new species or a great cafe and spend some time getting to know the nature near you.