Wakepark Wildfowl

Close season waterski ramps and unusual accommodation

I don’t know as much of the history of late at Ream Hills as I should. It’s on the outskirts of Blackpool, just about visible from the eastbound M55, and I first became aware of it when it was a field sports venue along with the neighbouring woods. As you may have deduced from the ‘wakepark’ tag it’s now a watersports venue, but I still do Wetland Bird Survey counts when I get chance.

When it was baited for shooting the grain attracted good numbers of Wigeon, Coot and Mallard. There were often other things among them as well, including on occasion a few Pintail and back in the day Ruddy Duck before DEFRA began culling them.

The other standout species in the area a decade or so ago was Whooper Swans. Checking my WeBS records on Boxing Day a decade ago there were 65 present, and I can recall the herd being over 100 strong. They’ve deserted this area now. Whoopers aren’t declining particularly so they’ve relocated, presumably to either Martin Mere or the flocks around Pilling and Cockerham. I should ask if the ringed birds that I used to see ever turned up anywhere else to enable to know where their new winter des res is.

There are sometimes good numbers of Canada Geese and Mallard on the lake, and today there were 68 of the former. But the main reason for carrying on the counts is it’s consistently the best site for Little Grebe in Blackpool. There have been double figures in the past, today there were at least three. In summer when the Wakepark Cafe is open it’s also a pleasant venue to watch Sand Martins hawking, they nest in excavations in nearby fields.

There are other water expanses in the Mythop area, more transitory and seasonal. Unfortunately these are reduced in number and some of the better ones have been deliberately drained to reclaim land for grazing. In a future blog I will do a site guide to the whole area with a nod to some of the past glories.

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