If you are visiting the reserve in the next couple of months you may hear some rumbling, slushing and crashing noises coming from the Dosthill part of the reserve. Don't worry, the koniks and cows haven't escaped! - it's only the contractors in their machines, here to do a project for us. Below, Nick (Site Manager) explains what's going on!
As is quite normal at Middleton Lakes every now and again Diggers turn up to make a mess create fantastic new habitats and features! This time they are on the Dosthill side of the river working on the north of the lake. Here the project is looking to expand some of the already mature reed fringe further out into the water and create large wet reed islands. The expanded reed will take several years to grow and thicken but will in time provide more of the rare habitat that is wet reedbed.
It is hoped that by doing this work we will be able to encourage a wide range of species to flourish including invertebrates, fish, mammals and of course birds. The wet islands, channels, winding reed edges and secret pools have been designed specifically to allow the best conditions for feeding and nesting bittern. Bittern have wintered in the past at Middleton but are secretive and hard to view. This year one has even spent the summer in the valley often roosting in the reserves reeds overnight. This is all encouraging and shows that we have good feeding areas and undisturbed wetlands for this shy species. The islands though should provide the missing piece to the puzzle for bittern and give them somewhere to nest. We will know if we have been successful when the male chooses to advertise the area with his far carrying boom call.
To compliment the new habitats we are also creating two new raised view points. These will provide great views into nearby reed features but also across the whole of the lakes maximising chances of seeing one of the wetland residents. Further improvements will also be delivered within this project including more benches, improved paths, signage and interpretation. All this work has been generously supported by Biffa Award and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Tame Valley Wetlands partnership.
The project starts this week and looks to continue until late November, for more information contact the reserve or watch this blog for updates!
Image shows the extent of the reed bed we aim to achieve over time and the location of the viewing features.
For the duration of the project, the northern part of Dosthill will be contractor access only as there are heavy machinery moving about. The rest of the reserve trails are open as usual.