......and if you're a marked bird hunter like me - in the first five weeks of winter 2006 - I had the good fortune to find and read 15 Whooper Swan's with ring's - then this winter there is an added interest in that 40 birds - 50% at Martin Mere - were fitted with solar-powered satellite-tags during the winter of 2008/09 to determine their spring migration routes 34 of which were known to have flown from Britain to Iceland resulting in high quality data on routes taken and summer quarters in Iceland.
Several initiatives have been set out by the UK government to tackle climate change including current and proposed wind turbines, and as a result the WWT have set out on a funded project using this latest satellite-tracking technology to describe the Whooper Swans migration routes in relation to offshore turbines along the British coastline.
Obviously the main concern is of the potential impact wind turbines have on a bird the size of the Whooper Swan which renders them much less manoeuvrable than smaller birds which in turn increases the risk of collision, another one of which is the fact these birds flying a low altitude on migration also increases the collision risk.
The tracking of birds from reserves like Martin Mere is hoped to also provide detailed information on routes taken to the southern parts of their migratory range and more transmitters are being/have been fitted in Iceland during this summer which will provide data on autumn migration in 2009 for birds known - through ring re-sightings - to winter at locations like Martin Mere.
So......the Swans are coming, and of the 20 tagged at Martin Mere I reckon with any luck we should see at least the odd bird or two during the coming months and I am very much looking forward to seeing my first of the winter soon. My first in 2008 were found on 2 October when I observed four birds at - what I intend to call today - Braides Scrapes which are SW of Cockerham from the A588.
In the pic above the birds are of course Bewick's Swan's and is a copy of a photograph John Leedal gave me of four birds found on Jeremy Lane on 4 March 2004 and on the back of the picture he epitomised himself with the words......'Bewick's Swan's are beautiful creatures, the knowledge that they share their life between Lancashire and Siberia enhances the wonder'......
......Bring on the Swan's.