Yet another new reserve today – the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes reserve near Tamworth in Staffordshire. Helen and I had been meaning to visit here for some time and today was the day it came to pass.
It was late afternoon on a fairly warm day when we arrived. There aren’t a lot of facilities at Middleton Lakes, as yet, but tents and gazebos were busily being erected at the entrance point to the reserve, by the car park, as we arrived. One of the RSPB staff informed us that they were in the process of setting-up for a barbecue for the reserve’s volunteers. And why not – good for them. They’d certainly chosen a very pleasant evening for it!
Starting out on the trail leading around the reserve, we soon came on the location of a large heronry, as marked on the site map. Although there were no Herons currently breeding here, we could see that it would be an interesting place to visit when they were.
From the large viewing point adjacent to the heronry, we soon moved around the corner to the viewing screen infront of a number of bird feeders. This was a fabulous spot; the feeders were swarming with birds, whilst in the nearby trees a Great Spotted Woodpecker was flitting up and down the branches. We stayed here for around twenty minutes watching Sparrows, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and a single Nuthatch, all busy at the feeders, whilst underneath them, a Mallard and some ducklings hoovered-up the grains that were falling from above.
As we carried-on along the woodland path, we saw (and heard) a variety of small birds flitting around in the undergrowth. At one point we stopped by a stream to photograph a group of Wrens by the water’s edge. It was unusual to see a group of Wrens together, as they’re normally solitary birds.
Whilst watching the Wrens, we suddenly heard a very distinctive birdcall from the trees around us; the unmistakeable ‘yaffling’ of a Green Woodpecker. Due to the sheer density of the foliage on the trees amongst which we were standing, I decided it was very unlikely we’d actually spot the bird itself. However, as neither of us had ever seen a Green Woodpecker before, it didn’t stop us from eagerly scouring the trees.
We followed the path a bit more until it opened up into a bit of a clearing, and then, very briefly, I spotted the bird flying up into the branches of a large oak tree, and out of sight. After holding our breath for a few seconds, it reappeared and flew off into some other trees. No time to catch it with a camera, alas, but it was nonetheless exciting to have finally seen a Green Woodpecker for the first time.
Next we walked up to the West Scrape, viewing Common Tern and catching a brief glimpse of a Sedge Warbler on the way. The viewing point at the scrape is a large and impressive structure, where we sat and watched a variety of waterfowl for about twenty minutes before we decided to return back towards the car park.
Back at the car park, the staff barbeque was in full-swing, and the burgers smelled fabulous!
Just as we were packing our equipment away in the car boot, we suddenly heard the Green Woodpecker again, off in the distance somewhere. We decided we’d come back to Middleton Lakes for a full day visit next time.