Feeling a bit down a week or two ago, my family and I decided it was time to have an afternoon out somewhere. I’m super lucky in respect of where I live because there is so much, so close. Just on the edge of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Manchester are both under an hour away meaning we had a lot of choice. After a bit of discussion, we decided to head somewhere I’ve not been since I was little, Martin Mere Wetland Centre.
After a 40 minute car drive, we arrived at the Centre, a wildfowl and wetland nature reserve run by the WWT. On a grey and drizzly day you might not think walking around outside would make for the perfect afternoon outing, but you are wrong. It was perfect.
Walking through the main building, the roof of which has fascinated me since I was little, we made our way to the actual reserve. When I was little we used to spend ages in the main building because they do family activities such as crafts, which I was obsessed with. The day we went they were holding the North West Puddle Jumping Championship and it honestly took every inch of my will-power not to queue up with the children for a go. Kid’s get all the fun.
Walking round the Centre
The Centre is set out so there is one big lake in the centre, then lots of little areas leading off it with different birds, animals and environments. There is also a natural wetland at the back where they have Hides that keen bird watchers can sit and spot rare fowl. You can usually buy bags of bird food to feed all the birds as you walk round the reserve but unfortunately, due to the detection of Bird Flu in Europe, and a few cases here in England, the centre has had to temporarily stop this. That didn’t stop us having a good look around though.
It always amazes me how close the birds come to you, even without food. It should be pointed out that these are wild birds too. Some have been clipped, but the birds at the centre vary from season to season, day to day, depending on migration patterns. Now, I’m no bird expert at all and only know the most common, but I loved seeing all the different species, and there was something quite soothing about walking round and listening to all the different calls and tweets mixing together. Even if we did have a giggle at some of the more bizarre ones.
After having a walk round, we made a determined effort to watch the scheduled feedings the Centre offered visitors. The first on my list was to see the Short-clawed Asian Otters. The keepers explained that Martin Mere had actually successfully bred these rare animals and as a result, had sent some to other centres. Luckily they had kept 3 sisters to continue to educate people about why it’s important to work with nature rather than against it. I’m such a wildlife fan so watching the otters try and find the crabs in their pond and break them open was something I really loved. They were so active and fun watch, each having their own personality.
Dragging myself away from those little cuties, we headed to the main Discovery Hide, right in time for the big Swan feed. They call it the Swan feed but really it’s a massive free-for-all on the natural wetland. What I loved was that there were super keen bird watchers there that were happy to share their knowledge with others, pointing out rare birds from other countries that have migrated here. Now I’ve fed a lot of ducks in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many birds in one place. It was crazy and something definitely not to be missed if you visit.
Our visit was the best pick-me-up and I’m already planning on going back in late May/June so I can see all the ducklings.
Where’s you favourite place to get up close to nature?