Swan night flights

See graceful swans illuminated against the winter night skies as they fly in to roost.

Wetlands nature reserve Martin Mere is again hosting its annual Floodlit Swan Evenings from next week, showing visitors a unique view of the lives of their migrating winter residents.

From Tuesday, January 8, guests can watch from the comfort of a heated observatory as thousands of wild swans and ducks fly in to bed down for the night.

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And, while they watch, one of the reserve’s wardens will give a talk explaining the whooper swans and their migration.

The events continue each Tuesday until January 29 at the Burscough nature reserve. Places are limited so visitors are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

Tickets are £8.50 for adults or £4.50 for children and £6.50 for concessions. The event starts at 6.30pm and visitors should meet in the main visitor carpark.

This year, the reserve is home to a record count of 2,489 whooper swans and more than 10,000 pink-footed geese – not to mention the resident family of otters.

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Those attending the Floodlit Swan Evenings are advised to dress up warmly and wear sensible footwear. It is also advisable to bring a torch with you for walking down the reserve’s nature trail.

The evenings are not suitable for young children under two.

Centre manager Andy Wooldridge, said: “At this time of year, particularly when there is a frost, Martin Mere’s landscape is absolutely stunning.”

Martin Mere is a part of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a national body which helps preserve this disappearing but vital habitat.

The Trust’s work has already given a more secure future to species such as the Madagascar pochard, thanks to work by researchers who have been monitoring wildlife in the UK for more than 60 years.

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And, through places like Martin Mere, they share what they have learned with both experts worldwide, the 200,000-plus WWT members, 60,000 school children who make educational visits to their nine wetland visitor centres and a million yearly visitors.

For more information, see the website at www.wwt.org.uk/martinmere. Martin Mere, off the A59, is open every day from 9.30am to 5pm and parking is free.

To book, call the centre on 01704 895181 anytime from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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