Sunday, 22 May 2011

RSPB Middleton Lakes :: 22 May 2011

RSPB Middleton Lakes is the latest RSPB nature reserve to open to the public. Last weekend it opened officially and this weekend it was hosting a Bird Fair. Since the RSPB acquired the site in 2007, they have developed the lakes, reedbeds, meadows and woodlands make it one of the best birdwatching sites in the area. Still they need more funding to install hides, bridges and a visitor centre. Still a good place to visit, even as it is.

An hour up the M40/M42 saw us arrive at 10:20, doors having opened at 10:00; we took the last parking space in the Middleton Hall courtyard. After a quick look around we located the RSPB Marquee and booked ourselves onto the 11:00 guided walk.

Our walk was scheduled for 2 hrs and aimed to introduce all of the established habitats. Immediately beside the RSPB car park there is a "play" meadow where kids can run, crawl, climb in the tree, jump and paddle in the ponds. From here you progress along a 700m trail through an ancient woodland. From here you can then choose left ot right: to the right is the meadow trail, home to English Longhorn cattle and an abundance of wild flowers; to the left a wetland trail (the "wilderness") which meanders through reedbeds, lakes and at times alongside the River Tame.

As a large group we were rather conspicuous and not likey to see much before it saw (or heard) us. We did manage to see a few birds, particularly a huge Whitethroatnumber of swifts, swallow and martins. Our species total on the walk numbered 26, including: swallow, woodpigeon, jackdaw, grey heron, carrion crow, tufted duck, whitethroat, coot, black-headed gull, mallard, housemartin, mute swan, blue tit, oystercatcher, sandmartin, swift, pied wagtail, great-crested grebe, shelduck, canada goose, chaffinch, robin, gadwall, lapwing, blackbird, and cormorant.

A quick lunch in Middleton Hall (tasty sausage and egg bap!) and a tour round the various Bird Fair stalls and marquees took us to the end of our visit. It won't be long until we come back to tour at our own speed, without a large entourage in tow.

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