After several months of agonised waiting, the day finally dawned for the North West trip to the Wetlands and Widlfowl Trust reserve at Martin Mere, near Southport. Myself and Mrs. Mad turned up on time to be greeted by almost all the people who said they were coming, which was a pleasant surprise. One notable exception was StevieB, who was en route having had to leave his wife at the shops (not sure if it was bring and buy).
We had a turnout of 11 people, some of whom I had not seen before so it was good to put faces to some more names. Ed (kit-monster) once more took the prize for longest journey, but at least he was making the most of the trip by staying over for the weekend (thanks to Matt for his hospitality).
Is it supposed to do that?
Our reserve guide spent some considerable time showing us around and answering all the dumb questions we could think of. He remarked that it was nice to have people who actually showed an interest but maybe he was just being kind. We hadn't gone very far before we lost Ed, Steve and Matt, who had found some interesting funghi and got left behind.
Martin Mere is divided into 2 main sections, the wild area and the collection ponds. The latter contain birds from all over the World, including 22 of 40 endangered species. Being used to people they seem not to mind having a dozen cameras pointing at them from various angles and heights. We couldn't get as close to the crane as we would have liked as we all valued our eyes, but it eventually came out of hiding long enough for some reasonable shots to be taken.
After showing us around all the hides and explaining the types of birds we were seeing, mainly 10s of thousands of pink foot geese, the guide made good his escape, which was the signal for lunch. Everyone trooped back to the cafe to refill with curry and bacon butties, before heading back out on a mushroom hunt. The wet weather has been perfect for fungus and we were spoiled for choice, although the thick cloud was making it difficult to get some of those which were buried in the undergrowth. On the way around, Ed decided to lie down for a low level shot, forgetting we were by the goose pond. Let's just say we all hope he washes his jacket!
Ed collapses under the weight of his lens
Colin and Steve testing the Mk1 Poly Bag.
After wandering past Swan Lake and through the Frozen North, we wandered through an aptly named 'Summer Walk', managing not to lose anybody to the bottomless mud on the way through, still in search of that perfect mushroom shot (the birds were just too easy). StevieB found a likely looking tree stump. which kept him occupied for a while trying to decide which ones to take.]
I doubt if any of us got a decent shot of the wild bird section, there were just too many and they were just that bit too far away, even for the big lenses, but there were enough geese, ducks, swans and flamingos to keep us happy and the rest of you bored to death for many weeks to come.
After another few circuits and a few dozen more bird shots we called it a day. Well most of us did, some decided to have just one more look for that perfect mushroom shot.
Many thanks to (in no particular order) Simon, Alan, Matt, Colin, Steven, Ed, Stevie, Tony and Tony's wife (sorry I can't remember your name) for turning up and making this an enjoyable meet.