With the excessive precipitation and topsy-turvy weather over the last few months, it has been difficult to get out and about at the weekends for a ‘proper walk’, but a couple of weeks ago it was warm and dry enough for an excursion to a nature reserve. It was easy to pick which one – RSPB Middleton Lakes in Staffordshire – as myself and partner Ed had visited in 2016 and really enjoyed it, so had been keen to return ever since.
We arrived just before lunchtime and parked up in the well-kept car park which is free for RSPB members or a reasonable £3 for non-members. From the car park you can either head through a small wooded area to a little square of shops and eateries, as well as Middleton Hall, or in the other direction past the RSPB hut straight to the reserve. We decided to have some lunch first in Bake180 Coffee Shop which offers a variety of light bites, treats and drinks, and also sells the RSPB pin badges if you want to add to your collection, which is exactly what I did. I donated some money and chose a blue tit and pied wagtail. Once we had finished eating, we headed back through the car park, picked up a map from the RSPB hut, which also has lots of information leaflets, badges and a chalkboard with interesting daily sightings written on it by visitors, and then we made our way into the reserve.
Middleton Lakes is a relatively young RSPB reserve, having been acquired in 2007. It has since been developed into a lovely site which benefits numerous bird species as well as other wildlife such as otters and of course, the visitors. The site is described as “one of the best birdwatching sites in the area”, which I certainly agree with as it is divided into sections – water, woodland, grassland and reedbeds, and has various viewpoints, a large lookout, nature trails, a rookery and a heronry! The conservation work and management that has been done already and continues to take place at Middleton Lakes is ultimately creating a ‘refuge’ for many beautiful birds and excitingly, the RSPB say that it “will become the most important site for breeding waders in the Midlands”.
It was really enjoyable exploring the different areas of the reserve and spotting the wildlife related to the surrounding nature and environments. Our favourite spots were a large grass snake (the first either of us had seen in the wild) and a beautiful pheasant who casually wandered up to us through the grass and took a liking to Ed. He stayed at our feet for a lengthy photo-shoot and good old feather study, and followed Ed’s steps until we could stay no longer. I was very pleased with my photographs of the pheasant and many stunning plants throughout the reserve, some of which you can view on my Instagram page.
I plan to visit Middleton Lakes more often and explore it further, so keep your eye out for future posts about my current favourite nature reserve. In the meantime I would love to hear about your favourite nature reserves!
© RSPB Middleton Lakes, April 2018