A highlight this week has been going to Lancashire. We set off early in the morning mist. We were going to a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre. Not too sure how to get there we used the Satnav – well I always do. You can’t go wrong, but somehow, we did, and we missed the turning and had to double back. No great problem though and we were soon nearby. The road names gave us a clue Robin Road and Curlew Lane. I could hear the call of geese and soon saw flocks in the low-lying fields. The trees were wet-land trees – alder and willow.
I had bought our tickets online, so we were able to get through to the centre without any fear of contact. It was still misty and there, looming above on a plinth, was a bust of Peter Scott. I am always taken by surprise by these busts, not by Peter Scott who founded the organisation, but he looked slightly strange as there was only the top part of him floating there. A bit like at the Proms where the founder Henry Wood ‘sits’ above the orchestra as a bronze bust.
No one was in the hide as we looked out of the window over the large lagoon. We saw bald coots making their loud honking noise, black headed gulls changing into their winter plumage without their black head and a strange looking godwit with its long beak. But I had come to see another bird.
The whooper swans are here, a thousand of them have come south from Iceland with their young grey cygnets. They are a sight to see and worth a trip just for them. There were some smaller Bewicks too which travel here from Siberia in the winter. How do they do it? How do they find their way? No one is very sure, but it seems likely that they use the angle of the sun, the landscape, and perhaps magnetic fields. There is no GPS for them.
They are fed with corn at about 3pm each day, and the visitor numbers were building up to see this spectacle. I could already hear the anticipatory calls of the birds as the now bright sun moved westwards. We did not stay but set off home hoping to arrive before dark. It would be simple this time, going back with Satnav as guide.
But it was not simple. For one thing the low horizon sun was in our eyes and the Satnav took us to the Mersey toll bridges. The one we chose had no barriers. You had to pay on the internet. Thank goodness for technology (I think).
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)