Some­thing for every­one through­out the year

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - PETE HACK­ETT

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.

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