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Published May 31st 2020
Birdlife in abundance during visit to lake at nature reserve
Sometimes in life, good things can come out of modern man's progress. And a wonderful case in point sits at the centre of the Tameside Nature Reserve just outside the centre of Tamworth in Staffordshire. In fact, the 'good thing' in question is the reason why the local nature reserve is even there. When the nearby main A5 was constructed less than 20 years ago, much of the gravel needed for the massive project was extracted from land off Fazeley Road, just to the south of the enormous Ventura Retail Park. And the powers that be, thankfully, made the decision to turn the resulting giant hole into an attractive lake. This man-made body of water comprises 3.2 hectares and, following my visit, it is easy to see why it attracts visitors, both human and feathered! The lake is easily the main focal point of the Tameside Nature Reserve, which covers around 20 hectares and occupies a 940 metre stretch of the River Tame on its eastern side. The wildlife site is also partly bordered by the Coventry Canal, with a popular, well-used cycle path running alongside Fazeley Road.
Entrance to the site is also from Fazeley Road, with parking available in adjoining side streets. Surprisingly, on the lovely sunny day I visited, most people were content to either ride or walk along the cycle path - perhaps on their way to do some shopping therapy at the nearby retail park. But after crossing a small bridge, the full delight of the lake was plain to see. And, surprisingly on such a fine day, there was only a woman and her young son there ahead of me. Close to the entrance is a sizeable wooden platform where a great deal of birdlife was congregating, possibly attracted to the possibility of a free meal. On immediate inspection, it was possible to see a swan, ducks, coots, and a couple of Canada geese with little fluffy goslings.
The lake contains four small islands of varying size which were created to provide vital nesting sites for ground-nesting birds such as ducks, terns and waders in order to protect their eggs and chicks from predators such as foxes. They were certainly well used on my visit. A notice board at the lake's edge encourages visitors to keep an eye out for such birds, as well as other creatures including water voles and frogs. A boardwalk runs around the perimeter of the lake to make it easier for people to navigate their way, with various viewing points along the way. And, if you explore further into the nature reserve you will also come across different habitats including marshy grassland and copses of mature native trees which also make up the site.
Tameside Nature Reserve is owned by the local Tamworth Borough Council and run by the Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group which was formed in 2006 under the auspices of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. For more information about the Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group email TWCG@aol.com. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust manages more than 2,000 acres of land across the county.