"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Brilliant Discovery

For many years I've been trying to find a good local Nature Reserve that has a good range of habitats and species and is close enough to home for me just to be able to pop along for a couple of hours. Brandon Marsh will always be my favourite Nature Reserve but it takes about 45 minutes travelling time just to get there. Middleton Lakes a fairly new RSPB Reserve in the Tame Valley takes as long and there is a long walk to reach the reserve from the car park. There a couple of other reserves closer to home I sometimes visit with Brian but to be honest for various reasons I have never been that keen on going to them on my own.

I've known about Marsh Lane Nature Reserve for many years and it is by far the closest to home but its fairly expensive to become a member for a year and to take out a day permit you have to leave a £50 deposit for the key collected from a Fisheries close to the reserve. Its just been one of those things I've never got round to. Yesterday, feeling rather fed up that I hadn't had time to visit Brandon Marshes for ages and, having a couple of hours to spare, I decided to go and fetch a day permit and have a look round Marsh Lane as every birder I chat too is full of praise for the site.

The reserve is located at Berkswell, between Solihull and Coventry and lies adjacent to the River Blythe and within its flood plan. RMC Aggregates extracted sand and gravel from the area from 1995 to 1999. Since quarrying ceased the land has been reinstated by the quarrying company and the site's owner - Packington Estates and it opened as a reserve to permit holders in 2001.

There is a good range of habitats - 3 pools (2 with islands), reedbeds, woodland, grassland, agricultural land, wet grassland with scrapes, lots of hedgerows, and a 5 acre field set aside to provide food for finches and buntings. There are five hides, a couple of feedings stations and several locked car parks. Up to March 2013 the bird site list stands at 195.

The photos aren't very good but will give you a flavour of the Reserve

Grey Heron

Greylag Geese

If you enlarge this photo you might be able to see a Bar-headed Goose - a bird from Asia and no doubt an escapee! Yesterday when I hadn't got my camera with me I spotted a Black Australian Swan.

This is the set-aside field adjacent to the car park. In fact the Car Park Hide is only about 50-100 metres from the car park - so a good place to go if its raining!!

The hedgerows were full of berries - rowan, sloes, elderberries and several apple trees full of fruit too.

I was really impressed with the reserve and have decided to join so I can hopefully make regular visits. I just wish I had checked it out years ago. It was one of those places that you occasionally visit that seem immediately familiar as if you have been visiting all your life!!! It reminded me very much of a smaller Brandon Marsh.

I will do a moth post in a few days. I have been trapping every night during this warm, humid, dry weather and have been trapping a lot of species new for the year and even some (when id confirmed) completely new for the garden. Am still in the process of identifying a few from photos and listing all the species seen each night.


Countryside Tales said...

Great to have found such a lovely place closer to home :-) Everywhere is looking very seedy now (that sounded wrong but hopefully you know what I meant!).
Looking forward to your moth post, very excited at all the new ones and be interested to hear what they are. I'm putting mine out tonight - haven't had any time this week with college so hoping to get a good return tomorrow morning! x

Stewart said...

Nice find Caroline, it can be your new local patch. You can start to keep records and lists of your own discoveries ( take no notice at all of other peoples'!)
I'll look forward to seeing how your seasons progress...

Best of luck.

Wendy said...

It is wonderful discovering a wildlife haven on your doorstep, isn't it? I hadn't really fully explored a patch of woodland and meadow close to me before this summer - and when I did I found it full of different butterflies. Marsh Lane looks a fantastic place.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Yes, I am really rather chuffed with the discovery - I was going to join a few years back and then husband moaned and said it would be another excuse for me to keep going out!!!!!! This time I will not be deterred!!!

Lots of moths around at the moment. Having trapped for 6 nights in succession I was going to give it a break tonight but last night caught 2 new species not just for the year but for the garden so its on again now!!

Stewart - Thanks so much Stewart :) I was going to call it a new local patch - but worried that might be cheating as I can't walk there!!! Yes have already started a list of species seen :) I am really quite excited about it all as I have so longed for somewhere local to go birding on a regular basis. Hopefully, the permit and key will come through quickly :)

Wendy - Many thanks. In recent years I've explored a lot of local places not visited before and as you say amazing what can be on your doorstep :) But I am so thrilled with this reserve :)

SeagullSuzie said...

I'm sure you will have lots of interesting visits and photos for us too, so well done for joining. Its the same here for me, I have two NT properties called Coleton Fishacre and Greenway very near and have never been. Anyway March Lane looks lovely and I look forward to your posts.

Em Parkinson said...

What a fabulous find and a really good haul for a first visit. I'll look forward to future visits.....

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Many thanks :) Am really looking forward to exploring further and regular visits when permit and key arrive :) Not heard of Coleton Fishacre but have read about Greenway - hope you get chance to visit soon.

Em Parkinson - Many thanks :) Can't wait to go again!!!

Lou Mary said...

It is a shame when it takes a long while to reach a favourite reserve, but to find a new place to take in nature which is also close to home is fantastic. Hopefully you will grow to enjoy this new reserve as much as others!
The rowan trees around us are also heaving with berries... hopefully this year will be another great one for waxwings, fieldfares and redwings!!

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary - Thanks - so pleased I have finally visited. Looking forward to year permit and key arriving so I can revisit asap :) Looks a great year for berries all round and won't be long now till winter visitors arrive :)