Easter ‘chick’ joy for Martin Mere

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WAR­DENS at WWT Martin Mere Wet­land Cen­tre in Burscough are cel­e­brat­ing an early Easter present af­ter one rare Nene gosling re­cently hatched in mid-March.

Only about 3,000 Nenes – pro­nounced ‘nay-nay’ af­ter their call – sur­vive in the wild in their na­tive Hawaii.

The gosling has spent his first two weeks in the duck­ling nurs­ery to en­sure he is safe and well be­fore go­ing out in the grounds in time for the Easter hol­i­days start­ing this Satur­day (April 1).

The Nene (also known as Hawai­ian Goose) is pop­u­lar at the cen­tre for be­ing one of the birds that will ac­tu­ally take bird food from the hand and is an en­joy­able at­trac­tion for chil­dren and adults.

The Hawai­ian goose rep­re­sents WWT’s great­est con­ser­va­tion suc­cess story by breed­ing the birds in cap­tiv­ity and re­leas­ing them in the wild.

The rein­tro­duc­tion pro­gramme started at Martin Mere in the 1980s when just three eggs were de­liv­ered to the cen­tre and there are now ap­prox­i­mately 60 Hawai­ian Geese in the grounds.

Some­times known as Lava geese, Nene’s are the only wa­ter­fowl adapted for life on lava flows.

An es­ti­mated 25,000 Nenes used to in­habit the Hawai­ian is­lands, but fol­low­ing the ar­rival of Euro­peans in 1778 their num­bers im­me­di­ately be­gan to de­cline.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the mon­goose in 1883 then seemed to seal their fate as it prayed vo­ra­ciously on eggs, chicks and adults alike.

By 1907, the Nene was recog­nised as a pro­tected species, but this seemed too lit­tle too late and only 20 or 30 birds sur­vived by 1949.

A ma­jor re-in­tro­duc­tion pro­gramme was launched which saw Sir Peter Scott bring over two of the only re­main­ing Nene’s in the world from Hawaii.

The WWT then went on to re­lease more than 200 of them back to the wild over the years help­ing to save the Nene from ex­tinc­tion.

WWT Martin Mere Wet­land Cen­tre is open every day (ex­cept Christ­mas Day) from 9.30am to 6pm and park­ing is free of charge. For more de­tails visit www.wwt. org.uk/mar­t­in­mere

A rare Nene gosling has hatched at WWT Martin Mere in Burscough Bruce Fal­con

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