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As well as a reserve of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Martin Mere is a Ramsar Site, Important Bird Area, Special Protection Area and Site of Special Scientific Interest. The site holds internationally important numbers of several waterfowl species in winter and covers 150ha of low-lying wet fields with pools and scrapes.
The surrounding area was once one of the largest bodies of freshwater in England but is now largely flat farmland with drainage ditches and scattered patches of woodland including Mere Sands Wood.
Although best known as a site for wintering geese and Pink-footed Goose in particular, Martin Mere hosts more than 500 each of Whooper Swan and Bewick's Swan, and thousands of Mallard, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon. The large numbers of Pinkfoots which can exceed 30,000, regularly attract other geese and Greater White-fronted Goose and Greylag Goose are regular with the occasional Brent Goose, Barnacle Goose and Bean Goose. Snow Goose also occurs but the origins of the scarcer species remain obscure. There are feral Greylag Goose, Barnacle and Pinkfoots in the area and Canada Goose is regular. Occasionally representatives of the smaller races of Canada Goose are recorded but whether they have a wild origin is unknown. Mandarin Duck is also often seen.
As there is a very extensive collection of captive waterfowl at Martin Mere any records of rare species remain suspect. All the regular dabbling ducks of northern Europe can be seen in this area in winter with species such as Mallard, Gadwall, Common Teal and Northern Shoveler staying on to breed. Other breeding ducks include Common Shelduck and Common Pochard and Garganey is a regular passage migrant.
Waders such as Northern Lapwing, Common Snipe and Common Redshank breed but a much wider range occurs on passage. Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover occur in good numbers in autumn. Whimbrel are regular in spring and small numbers of Eurasian Dotterel are sometimes seen.
Martin Mere is good for raptors and owls in autumn and winter with Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon and Short-eared Owl joining the resident Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel and Barn Owl. Marsh Harrier is becoming a more regular passage visitor, sometimes seen in midsummer. Common Pheasant and Grey Partridge and Red-legged Partridge can be seen on farmland surrounding the reserve.
Passerines include breeding Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting, Eurasian Skylark and Meadow Pipit. During passage periods Yellow Wagtail can be very common along with flocks of hirundines. The Martin Mere reserve is also a reliable site for two of Britain's declining farmland birds, Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting.
With such large numbers of birds and their watchers it is inevitable that rarities will frequently be seen and a number of vagrants, particularly from North America, have been recorded in the Martin Mere area. As well as the "Lesser" Canada Goose which may be of wild origin, Lesser White-fronted Goose and Red-breasted Goose have been recorded, also Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Barnacle Goose, Common Shelduck, Mandarin Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Goosander, Ruddy Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Common Pheasant, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Dotterel, Eurasian Golden Plover, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black Tern, Feral Pigeon, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Short-eared Owl, Eurasian Skylark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Eurasian Robin, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Siskin, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
The surrounding farmland is best viewed from local roads and Plex Moss, between the A5147 and A565, is one of the best areas.
Access and Facilities
Like other WWT reserves Martin Mere is well signposted from all around and is difficult to miss. There is an entrance fee to non-members of the WWT and the reserve opens at 09.30 and closes at 17.30 in summer and dusk in winter.
There are all the visitor amenities such as shop, restaurant and information centre etc that we have come to expect from the WWT. Like the other WWT reserves Martin Mere provides an excellent family day out with the chance of some good birding.
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre
Fish Lane, Burscough
Tel: 01704 895181
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023) Martin Mere. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 30 November 2023 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Martin_Mere
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Content and images originally posted by Steve
Suprisingly, some wild birds in summer were Pochards , Barnacle geese, Pink footed geese, whooper swans and White fronted geese all of which are meant to be almost always meant to be wiinter visitrs. Pros
- lots of exciting birds.
- little children chasing birds
Malcolm Stewart's review
Visited Martin Mere at end of October, 2006. Really needed more time than the 1 hour available to me that day. Saw my first Whooper Swan families, and lots of other migrants settling in for the winter. Excellent viewing from the two hides I visited. Also took a quick wander around the pens, and saw my first eider duck, so well worth the visit. Pity that the website doesn't have a plan of the reserve itself - if I'd known more about the size of the main lake and just how many hides there were, I would have given myself more time on the visit. Pros
- Good range of hides
- in addition to pens for exotic(?) wildfowl. Car park
- and local bus service.
- Felt that the cafeteria stopped doing hot food a little early.
There is a map on the website , just not that obvious look for blue writing on centrepage : 'Click here to see a map and some stunning images of what a visit to WWT Martin Mere has to offer ' Liverpool RSPB also have a copy of the map on their Website:www.rspbliverpool.org.uk
Best time to visit is probably winter, when all the whoopers have arrived. Spectacular against a winter sunset. The reserve is now larger and as you say an hour just will not do.
A year's WWT membership for an adult is �30, entrance then free to all WWT reserves, so if your planning further trips/visit other WWT centres it could save you a lot of money. Pros
- Rural area
- quiet location
- lots of hides. Other reserves close nearby i.e RSPB Marshside and Mere Sands Wood LNR
- You'll probably need an A-Z to find it. Busier at weekends
Malcolm Stewart's review
Thanks for your note about the map of Martin Mere. I'd completely missed it. It took some time to download on my dial-up connection, and it's a pity that the map is buried in a pdf file, instead of being available separately and more quickly.