Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Middleton lakes RSPB

Was visited today for the first time. I'd heard a great deal about this site and its potential to be the RSPB's "flagship" midlands reserve so was looking forward to visiting today despite the less than encouraging (in terms of staying un-moistened) weather forecast.
And so we went, we saw, we conquered! Im not sure what exactly we conquered apart from managing to wander around the whole site but it was nice to see yet another chain of gravel pits being reclaimed by nature.

I do have a few complaints recommendations for the site however after this first visit. Firstly, finding the site itself proved challenging with no signposts to the site, we actually found it by accident in the end, we didnt realise the RSPB carpark is at the Middleton Hall itself. Secondly there was little in the way of paths, particularly around the wetland trail with a pair of ruts formed by a 4 x 4 the best it got for large parts, leading to confusion as to where you could and couldn't walk. My main beef however was with the total lack of hides or screens or basically anything that would stop birds being disturbed by people on the bank. Perhaps its because I'm used to birding at the Rutland reserves where you basically can't see the lagoons unless you are in a hide but I think this is a better strategy for keeping disturbance to a minimum. Plus on days like today where heavy showers keep passing through you end up rather damp without convenient hides to, errrr, hide in.

In terms of bird species that we saw the list wasn't huge and nor was it filled with "rare" but warblers were plentiful, as were hirundines. Waders seemed thin on the ground with only 3 species seen (LRP, Oystercatcher and Lapwing) although an Osprey passing overhead added a touch of excitement.

I'd never tried photographing hirudines properly before today - its challenging
So all in all its a very promising reserve considering its age although I do recommend that the paths are improved and that screens/hides be installed to limit disturbance before this can truly be classed as a "flagship" reserve. Off to Norfolk with the Drunkbirder and Mr Llama tomorrow, should be fun!


  1. I think this 'open plan', no screening approach to RSPB reserves is deliberate - Frampton is like that as well, as is Titchwell (although they do both have hides of course), and disturbance by people never seems to be a problem at either. Presumably birds get used to it, and in fact they often are more approachable (and photographable) at those two reserves than they ever are at Rutland Water. So I'm all for it.

    Not a lot reported in Norfolk today, apart from 2 Temminck's at Cley and a possible Cape Gannet (!!!) past Cley. Weather looks pretty shit for tomorrow - light north-westerlies, although anything is possible in mid-May. Of course it's going easterly on Thursday though...

  2. You certainly make a good argument there Andy, one massive downside of Rutland is the fact most of birds are about half a mile away! The open plan style certainly does give you more scope for seeing birds and I suppose the generally flat nature of flood-plain gravel pits lends itself to this. I still want some hides though!

    Yes I had a quick look at the birdmap yesterdat and noticed Norfolk was emptying itself of birds in preparation for our arrival, how nice of it!