Mar­tin Mere

Midweek Visiter - - Martin Mere -

BEWICK’S cygnet num­bers in Arc­tic early sign of bumper breed­ing sea­son Mar­tin Mere is a lo­cal tourist at­trac­tion, but we are also a global char­ity pro­tect­ing wet­lands and the species that in­habit them.

Our ex­perts from WWT, made the ex­cit­ing dis­cov­ery dur­ing their an­nual 2000-mile trip to the Arc­tic to ring the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered birds.

Af­ter spot­ting just one cygnet last year, Con­ser­va­tion Sci­en­tist Kane Brides and Re­serve War­den David Dins­ley sighted 24 cygnets and 10 fam­i­lies dur­ing the suc­cess­ful ex­pe­di­tion.

The young birds were well-sized and ex­pected to fledge, hope­fully ad­ding to the num­bers that will visit us over the win­ter.

Kane said:“This is a def­i­nite in­di­ca­tion of a bet­ter breed­ing sea­son than last year when spring was late and the birds didn’t have as much of a win­dow to breed.

“Thank­fully the weather was OK this year, al­low­ing the swans to get on.

“In the next four weeks the Bewick’s will be­gin leav­ing the Arc­tic to be­gin their epic jour­ney through Europe.

“We hope this snap­shot means there will be more cygnets in tow with their fam­i­lies.”

The team man­aged to tag 74 birds in­clud­ing 60 Bewick’s swans, ten of which had been ringed be­fore.

Amaz­ingly, two of the swans were known to visit Wel­ney on the Ouse Washes.

Nine mutes were also ringed as well as five whoop­ers.

The team will then carry out three as­sess­ments over win­ter in the UK and col­late the de­tails to es­tab­lish how suc­cess­ful the breed­ing sea­son was.

The yearly Arc­tic trips give our con­ser­va­tion­ists an early idea of how it’s gone.

Ring­ing the birds in the tun­dra is no nor­mal busi­ness trip.

Bewick’s swans are truly wild and as such favour the re­mote.

Kane and David were camped seven hours from the near­est town which meant drink­ing wa­ter from the lo­cal lake, eat­ing fish from the lo­cal lake and wash­ing in the lo­cal lake in tem­per­a­tures as low as three de­grees.

The only shel­ter is an empty fish­er­man’s hut which had to with­stand one of the big­gest thun­der­storms wit­nessed on a ring­ing trip so far.

These dif­fi­cult ex­pe­di­tions wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out the guid­ance and sup­port of staff from the Nenet­sky Zapoved­nik who help the team tough it out. But it’s all worth it. The vi­tal data these vis­its pro­vide is an in­valu­able source to WWT which has been ring­ing Bewick’s at their win­ter­ing sites in the wild since the 1960s.

Con­ser­va­tion Sci­en­tist Kane Brides at work on the Arc­tic trip

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