Something for everyone throughout the year
THIRTY YEARS SINCE the original opening, the reserve boasts a great new visitor centre offering panoramic viewing across marsh, lake and woodland. The reserve was the first RSPB’S urban nature reserve, and has been well utilised by visiting schools over the years. Although just 23 hectares, the varied habitat supports a good range of breeding birds and passage migrants, often allowing close views. Throughout the year there is something of interest, from the gaudy and raucous Ring-necked Parakeets to the more delicate Willow Tits. The marsh area is notable for wintering Jack Snipe and Snipe and Water Rails, while Forge Mill Lake hosts Goosander, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard and Goldeneye from autumn. Spring passage can bring waders such as Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Dunlin joining the breeding Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Common Terns. Summer is quieter with good numbers of breeding warblers, while low water levels in autumn bring Green Sandpiper, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit and the chance of Hobby. Whinchats and Stonechats herald autumn while Buzzards and Sparrowhawks are conspicuous overhead. Over the years the reserve has attracted a good many scarce birds, pride of place going to a Great Snipe in August 1995, while the reserve also boasts records of Caspian Tern, Leach’s Petrel, Pectoral Sandpipers and others.