Thanks to Victoria Guinan from Martin Mere for sending me the gen on this Bewick's Swan at Martin Mere - they're getting scarcer and scarcer these days (but not as scarce as Glaucous Winged Gull or Steller's Eider - ooh the pain).
The pic of the Bewick's is by Richard Taylor Jones.
Take it away Victoria...
Martin Mere welcomes back a very old friend
"A 23 year old Bewick's Swan has astounded WWT staff by arriving at Martin Mere after it was first ringed at the Centre in 1991. Given the fact that the Bewick's Swan migration journey from Siberia to winter in the UK is approximately 2,200 miles, this bird will have travelled at least 100,000 miles so far in its unusally long life.
Martin Mere is commonly known for the numbers of Whooper Swans that migrate from Iceland to winter at the mere, but in the eighties, Martin Mere also welcomed thousands of wintering Bewick Swans from Siberia but as temperatures have increased the swans don't need to make such a long journey and they are now tending to spend the winter in Holland or east coast of England. As a result Martin Mere has only had 7 Bewick Swans arrive at the Centre this winter, the lowest recorded number since it was established in 1975 illustrating how global warming is affecting migration patterns of birds.
Centre Manager, Andy Wooldridge, said: "The Bewick's Swan arrived back at Martin Mere on 6 January and after reading the metal ring number we were amazed to discover that the bird was ringed at Martin Mere as an adult in 1991 when we assumed he was at least 4 years old, making him an astonishing 23 years old in 2009. Throughout his life he has been logged in the Netherlands and in Denmark, but was last seen in the local area on 24/01/2006 at Bradshaws Lane at Pilling by Charlie Ligget, a former warden at Martin Mere. "
We know that he is a male swan because the ring was placed on his right leg, the identification tool for knowing the sex of a swan. Bewick Swans are much smaller than Whooper Swans and they can be identified by just having a small yellow dot on their bill in comparison to the Whooper Swans who have the majority of the bill covered in a yellow triangle.
Visitors to the Centre can now come and spot the Bewick Swans in the daily swan feeds and there are two final opportunities on Saturday 7 February and Saturday 14 March to see the birds as they leave the roost at our Dawn Flight events. The event costs ÃÂ£14.00 and includes a full English breakfast. Please call 01704 891220 for further information.
WWT Martin Mere is open every day from 9.30am to 5.00pm and parking is free of charge. Situated off the A59, it is signposted from the M61, M58 and M6. The Centre is also accessible via the Southport to Manchester and the Liverpool to Preston line by train from Burscough Rail Stations. Visit the web site http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/martinmere/ to find out what's on all year round at Martin Mere and the other eight centres."
It's certainly the case that Bewick's Swans are changing their mgration patterns, but I'm sure I've read somewhere that Whooper Swans are (not surprisingly given their larger size) the dominant species at food sources, so another reason for their scarcity round here now could be the increase in Whooper numbers too.
Birders of a certain age will remember when Bewick's was the common swan at Marshside in winter, and Whooper was the tricky one to find - how things change!
Speaking of Marshside, thanks to Graham Clarkson for sending me these details of a colour ringed Ruff seen on the reserve recently.
It was first caught on April 4th, this year at Workum in Holland (ring colourcode: B2RWBY)
19-4-2008: Workum, Workumerbinnenwaard-Zuid, Netherlands;Theunis Piersma.
11-7-2008: Workum, Workumerbinnenwaard-Noord, Netherlands; Theunis Piersma.
30-9-2008: Martin Mere WWT, Sunley's Marsh; David and/or Estelle Walsh.
3-10-2008: Martin Mere WWT, Sunley's Marsh; Kane Brides.
14-12-2008: Marshside RSPB Reserve;Graham Clarkson.
And, not forgetting these excellent shots that Graham Moreton has sent me from the over the festive period....wish I could blatt a Barn Owl like that Graham!
Thanks all - nowt much else to report, although an egret I saw flying westward over Formby by-pass near the Lighthouse roundabout yesterday afternoon looked mighty small.
No way of stopping in the traffic, but I'm sure it was just a Little.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...