Christmas Walk Group at the Main Entrance to the Reserve

The Friends of Marton Mere arrange regular walks around the Mere and adjacent Lawson Wetland to introduce people to the habitats, explain the history of the site, the plants and animals likely to be encountered and most importantly, to try to get them engaged and interested in the reserve and hopefully volunteer at some point in the future. It’s always better to try and do this in the sunshine, but you can’t always get what you want!

To follow is a brief report about the 2023 Christmas Walk and I hope you enjoy the read:-

Despite the best efforts of the opening act of storm Gerrit, just before 9am on Wednesday 27th December, 18 hardy souls assembled in the pouring rain for the initial welcome (confirmation of their madness) and introductions to the guides and experts present on the days walk – formalities out of the way, we were on our way just after 9am.

The walk was led by experienced Wyre Ranger (ret.) and lead volunteer, Len Blacow, and as usual he was able to regale everyone with his extensive first hand knowledge of the modern history of the Mere (>1950’s to the present day) along with his extensive knowledge of local, over-wintering and migratory birds present and thoughts of those migrants anticipated in a few months as Spring is sprung; Len was ably supported on the flora side of things by local botanists Owen and Carol whose enthusiasm for and knowledge of, plants, mosses, lichens and fungi (and poetry) is extensive and infectious.

It is this knowledge, engagement and sunny disposition that ensures, despite the conditions, we were all still able to have a thoroughly interesting and engaging three hour walk around the Mere, the adjacent Wetland and learn all about the habitats and how they are managed. Thanks also go to Owen and Carol for the printed resources that were pinned to the gate prior to the arrival of the guests and which all helped to set the tone for the day.

The wind and the rain put paid to any realistic opportunity to observe any birds, both from the fact they would likely all be sheltering from the rain and even if they did venture out into the open, you couldn’t keep the lenses of your binoculars free from rain no matter how hard you tried.

However, despite the weather, there is always something to see (usually with the naked-eye) and the avian highlights for the day were the several hundred pink-footed geese flying over the Mere from the North and descending into the stubble-fields to the East of the Mere to feed, a pair of Ravens flying over the Mere from Staining toward the holiday park and a small group of Fieldfare in and around the northern scrub. The resident male Mute Swan (Cob), also put on a bit of a performance as one cue, it arched its wings and powered towards three Greylag Geese that were a little to close to his patch for comfort – they didn’t hang around for long!

After a break of almost four years, it was also really good to see the Visitor Centre being used again and for many people this was their first visit to what is sadly a very under-utilised resource; we hope that 2024 sees the Visitor Centre being used more frequently for walks like todays but also in a more education-based manner through projects being run by the Ribble Rivers Trust and Blackpool Zoo Education team to name but two. It was also great to hear some words from Harry Handford, Senior Education Officer for Blackpool Zoo, who, on behalf of his colleagues Christian and Samantha, gave the assembled group a brief overview of what we hope will be a productive, long-term project / partnership between Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool Council and The Friends/Volunteers Group. That partnership will focus on the conservation of native species on the site and we are really looking forward to getting started. A special mention also to fellow volunteers Jan and Helen for making sure the kettle was on and there were plenty of hot teas and coffees to go around – most welcome they were too!

We also hope that we can start to get volunteers to start opening the visitor centre on a more regular basis in 2024, and if greeting visitors and providing them with information on the Mere is something you’d be interested in, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to have you join the team.

To follow are some photos taken of the group at various locations around the reserve and you’ll just have to trust me when I say that on the other side of the hoods were happy, smiling faces 🙂

Some additional photos to follow from the walk of a few of the many fungi / mushrooms, and an earthworm, seen including Candlesnuff, Glistening Inkcap and Turkey Tail amongst others.

Signs of spring were also present with Alder and Hazel catkins, Hawthorn buds just waiting to burst and Snowdrop, Bluebell and Daffodils plants already several cm above ground.

There is always one part of the Mere’s history that most people find hard to believe and that is that the entire area on which the reserve is situated was, until 1972, the site of the Blackpool Council’s municipal tip with ‘bin wagons’ rumbling to and from the site from the adjacent Lawson Road on the still present access road. The site subsequently gained its Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status in 1979 and was granted Local Nature Reserve Status in 1991. These protections and the management and habitat works performed mainly by the Friends Group and Volunteers will hopefully ensure that this environmental jewel will still be here and being enjoyed by new generations of locals and visitors alike in another 50 years.

There will hopefully be further guided walks in Spring, Summer and Autumn and we’d suggest that you keep an eye on the Marton Mere Facebook page for future events and instructions on how to book your place.

If you’d like to have a browse through some of the 70+ years of archive material associated with the Mere, that can also be accessed through the Fylde Bird Club page where that information is presently hosted – Marton Mere Archive

Finally, thanks to everyone who braved the conditions and please keep your eye on this page for more walks that will be held in the coming months across all of the seasons – hopefully in better weather conditions than were experienced today.

Marton Mere and Lawson Wetland – Christmas Guided Walk

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *