Monday, August 6, 2012

A Day Out at Martin mere

Martin Mere is a wetland, a wild bird preserve. Although it’s quite near us, we never got there before, for lack of a car. This time, we went there with Margaret and her daughter, Lizzie.

Margaret is a nurse who used to work with Demetrios back in the mid-sixties and I think she’s 92 or something like that, now, with her mind entirely intact. She even remembers nursing the soldiers returning from Dunkirk. She’s red-headed and definitely has the firecracker personality stereotypically associated with that, delightful.

Her daughter, Elizabeth, is my age. Lizzie is an avid bird watcher, so avid that she carries not only the world’s best binoculars, but also a tripod for holding them. She knows every bird in Great Britain, making her the best guide anyone could ask for to this wetland preserve.

Martin Mere has a great lake, marshy spots, artificial ponds, bird nurseries, bird boxes, trees and bushes and perfect spots for a huge variety of birds to live and/or breed. There are paths and several hides. The hides are buildings you go inside so the birds can’t see you. There is a certain etiquette for hides, such as being quiet, closing any windows you open, closing the door after you.

We saw all sorts of birds, of course, but we concentrated on a few, of Lizzie’s choice.   I wanted to show you pictures of these birds, but the outdated browser on these library computers won't let me insert an image.  Anyway, Lizzie, mounting her binoculars on a tripod, showed us:

Avocets, waders with long, upturned beaks they waggle from side to side in the water to dislodge and catch shrimp;

Lapwings, with crests longer than I ever thought any bird would have;

Godwits.

Among the ducks, besides the usual Mallards, we saw Eiders, with their wedge-shaped blue beaks and Shelducks, the size of geese, with red beaks and a conspicuous red knob at the base of the beak.

We ended up buying me a pair of binoculars, too; I’ve wanted them for a long time. My mom gave me the money for them last year for my birthday. The binocular shop had a large range from which to choose, and despite Lizzie’s resolve to stay silent, I did manage to get her advice; she thinks I ended up with the right pair for me (i.e., for an only moderately avid birdwatcher).

We had lunch in the cafĂ©, and then drove Margaret home, as she tires out by lunchtime. Lizzie, with Margaret’s car, stayed all afternoon. I went home and in my birdbook, marked the birds I’d seen.

1 comments:

Anam Cara said...

I think the links to pictures worked very well. The Shelducks are really stunning, aren't they? And I love the name "godwit." It sounds so Chaucerian!

Are you practicing to do a "Big Year?" If you haven't seen that movie you might enjoy it.