An ex­cel­lent site for win­ter wild­fowl on Black­pool’s doorstep

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - MAU­RICE JONES

MARTON MERE LAKE was formed af­ter the last ice age when a huge block of ice melted, leav­ing a large wet­land across much of what is now Black­pool. More re­cently, it has been de­clared a Lo­cal Na­ture Reserve and is des­ig­nated a Site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est for its bird life. It’s cur­rently un­der­go­ing im­prove­ment work to cre­ate a new visi­tors’ cen­tre, class­room in the car­a­van site, new hide, Sand Martin bank, scrapes and ponds. Win­ter vis­its pro­vide a good va­ri­ety of wild­fowl and the ex­ten­sive reedbeds have Wa­ter Rails and sev­eral pairs of Cetti’s War­blers. There are five hides on site giv­ing views across the reeds and mere. The hide at the west end has feed­ers which pro­vide close views of Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Great Spot­ted Wood­pecker and win­ter Reed Buntings. The ex­ten­sive scrub and ap­ple trees along the north side of the reserve have roost­ing Long-eared Owls and Field­fare and Red­wing. Wheatears visit the fields east of the dam and Whin­chats are oc­ca­sional mi­grants. The wa­ter at­tracts good num­bers of Swal­lows, martins and Swifts. A small num­ber of waders visit the scrapes, such as Com­mon and Green Com­bine with a day out in Black­pool – a sum­mer visit is good for a va­ri­ety of dragon­flies Sand­pipers, Black-tailed God­wit, Snipe and Gar­ganey. Woodcock are seen at dusk in au­tumn, and stay the win­ter. The Mere has a long list of rar­i­ties to its name, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can Bit­tern, Lit­tle Bit­tern, Laugh­ing Gull, Ross’s Gull, Col­lared Prat­in­cole, White-winged Black Tern, Alpine Swift, Fer­rug­i­nous Duck and also Lesser Yel­lowlegs.

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