On our way home from Southport, we stopped at Martin Mere wetland centre, part of the Wildfowl Trust, founded by Sir Peter Scott. ( bust of him above). He was one of the founders of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, and designed it's panda logo, and founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, the home of Peter Scott, was the first wetland centre, opened by him in 1946; Martin Mere, Lancashire, was opened by Peter Scott in 1975. The BBC filmed its Autumn Watch programme from Martin Mere in 2007.
I am a huge, huge fan of both Peter Scott (1909 - 1989) artist and ornithologist, and his wife Philippa(1918 - 2010) wildlife photographer, now both deceased, for their creativity, prolific conservation work and their love of nature and wildlife. Peter was the son of explorer Scott of the Antarctic, who wrote a letter before his fateful death to his wife saying that 'the boy should study natural history.' Peter was two years old when his father died. He had a privileged and fascinating life, that led to his interest in, and service to, protecting wildlife, which, as a result, we can all enjoy today. Sir David Attenborough said, " The Scott partnership put conservation on the map at a time when conservation was not a word people understood, at least not in the natural history context, and that if people did conserve and protect the natural environment in future much would be due to the Scott's legacy".
When I got home I looked out some old photos and found these of Brian, and the boys when they were young at Martin Mere. Like many children who grew up in the countryside my own fascination for wildfowl started when a skein of migrating wild geese flew in a v-formation overhead. Who doesn't like the marvellous spectacle of flying geese and their melodious sound? They make long and still not completely understood migrations, flying at dawn and dusk, and gather in vast aggregations, making for the most magical displays in different countries around the world.
I have admired prints of whooper swans and pintail geese by Peter Scott, since the late 1970s, when I first saw them on a dear friend's wall. They were not very fashionable, but I was enthralled; I then bought similar prints enthusiastically from junk shops every time I saw any for sale. Very few artists paint the individual features of wildfowl birds like Peter Scott, taking drawings of individual markings on swans beaks, rather like having fingerprints. His knowledge of wildlife is extensive. From his books, I learned that as a society wild geese and swans mate for life and keep their young with them until the next breeding season. Scott also wrote that the reason he learned to paint was mainly so that he would be able to paint his beloved wild geese better. They were so close to his heart. If you are not familiar with his work take a look on line, look again at his wild geese pictures, look at the skies at dawn and dusk, look at the patterns the birds make, the patterns where birds are landing as well as in flight. So beautiful!
The hides at the wetland centres are a wonderful way to see wildfowl, particularly in winter. In Herefordshire, where I used to live, there is a little hide where you can get a fabulous view in winter, at Bodenham Lake. You might also see otters running around the river bank.
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