A Mere 35 Species…..
…..kicked off 2010. For the meeting at Mere Sands, 7 of us arrived thinking the weather reasonable for the time of year. However, walking around woodland under the canopy of branches, coupled with lakes still mostly frozen, soon cooled our ardour, and the cold set in. Mere Sands is a Wildlife Trust Reserve near Ormskirk, 105 acres of lakes, woodland and grasslands set in an agricultural landscape.
Starting at the Visitor Centre, we checked the feeders on both sides of the building. Four finches, four tits and Reed Bunting quickly made their way into the notebook, plus Tree Sparrow. The hide overlooking the Scrape behind the Visitor Centre was disappointing. Mainly frozen, wildfowl were difficult to come by, and searching the vegetated edges became the order of the day. We found a couple of Teal among an equally meagre number of Mallard, and a single male Shoveler.
Moving on to the Marshall and Ainscough hides, overlooking the Hollow, again solid sheets of ice restricted open water to the edges of the lake, and we could add only a single Shelduck here. Still, Treecreeper at the entrance to one of the hides, and another later, entertained, while Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker turned up on the northern edge of the reserve. Close by the Redwing hide we saw its namesake.
Views over open farmland enabled us to add Stock Dove and note its difference from Wood Pigeon. And several flocks of geese swirled around, emanating from nearby Martin Mere, one flock straying close enough to be recognised as Pink-feet by their darker heads/bills and lighter wings.
The number of new additions to our list dropped until we reached Mere End, which had a greater area of ice-free water. Here we added Gadwall and Wigeon to our list. We returned to the Visitor Centre, where the staff let us eat our lunch in the vacant lecture room, where feeling slowly returned. As time had moved on, and some of our number had to return to Sandbach, we postponed our visit to Marshside until next season. Just as we were about to leave the Visitor Centre, the receptionist there called that the bird of the day was at the rear feeders – a male Brambling, resplendent with orange sides and white rump.