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
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.
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