Winter birds of prey at WWT Martin Mere

Winter is starting to set in the mere is full of ducks and waders which also attracts a variety of birds of prey.

Peregrine falcons are seen most days, they fly really high and the flock of lapwings see them as soon as they arrive and fly up into a swirling flock to confuse the peregrine. Go down to the Janet Kear hide and we have birdfeeders that attract a wide variety of small birds and mammals. A sparrowhawk can often be seen sat in the tree waiting for a rat or mouse to come out or it can be seen darting through the trees trying to catch a blue tit unaware.

We had a great year for Marsh Harriers with 3 pairs breeding on site and fledging 4 youngsters, over the winter more marsh harriers come onto the reserve as it’s a great place to hunt and roost in the reedbed, a stunning male has been seen just this week. Look out at dusk as the harriers come into roost and you might see a hen harrier amongst them the males are a stunning grey with a white ring around the base of the tail.

While you sit in the United Utilities hide scan the fence posts for a buzzard they can often be seen rain or shine sat looking for a hunting opportunity. Another bird of prey to look out for when you are scanning the fence posts is the merlin they are really small and when they fly they are very direct they know exactly where they are going and they like to fly the quickest way there possible. Kestrels are a stunning orange colour and can often be seen near the Janet Kear hide waiting for a rat or mouse to come out under the birdfeeders. The kestrels hoover keeping their head perfectly still, they can see in infrared, when the mice are running around they pee constantly and this shows up to the kestrels like a trail.

A visit to Martin Mere in the winter is an amazing experience and some days you can see 7 species of birds of prey, but I feel just seeing one of these amazing birds is a fantastic experience.

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Pictured is a sparrowhawk by Nick Brooks