As part of our opening week celebrations we are delighted that renowned nature lover Bill Oddie will be coming to visit our new reserve next Friday afternoon the 3rd June. Bill will be on hand to chat to visitors and will be leading a nature hunt.
We've also got another treat for children of all ages - star of the CBeebies Green Ballon Club, Jelly, will also be making an appearance on the same day.
This should be some special occasion!
Fifteen students from Moor Hall Primary School got the opportunity to join us for a lovely (if not a bit wet!) walk around the reserve on Monday. The students are members of Moor Hall's Bird Club and working towards their Bronze Wildlife Action Award. I got the chance to show them around and introduce them to a few birds they hadn't yet met!
The children learned how to use binoculars and got plenty of practice while looking for herons, chatty chiffchaffs and zooming in on song thrushes that greeted us on the bridleway. We made it all the way to the willow screen overlooking the lakes where we spotted dozens of house martins, sand martins, swifts, as well as ducks and geese - and the other usual suspects.
The group was also awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from RSPB Middleton Lakes nature reserve. The children managed to raise an impressive £40 for the RSPB by selling crafts they'd made including finger puppets, masks and bookmarks. (You can see photos of the kids selling their wares on the school's website, here.)
Martin Fisher, one of our volunteers, has been working with this school for years; including a fair few Big Schools' Birdwatches! Thank you to Martin for helping us link up with this primary school. We hope they'll come again!
If you know of a primary school near you that could well be interested in a fun day out at Middleton Lakes nature reserve (or having an RSPB visitor in their classroom), contact Becca (email@example.com or 01827 259756) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) about promoting our programmes. You can also direct teachers to our Living Classrooms website.
There will be an information tent where you can book for the various events.
We will have many hands-on activities taking place all week including nest box building, dragonfly making, face painting, mask masking, welly wanging, bog walking.........
Playmeadow activities start at 10am each day Sunday 28th May to Sunday 5th June
Saturday 28th May
10am Wetland Trail guided walk; 10.30am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Natural Art
Sunday 29th May
4.30am Dawn chorus walk; 10am Wetland Trail guided walk; 10.30am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Mini shelter building & bug hunt
Monday 30th May
10.30am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Middleton Lakes mini games
Tuesday 31st May
10am Wetland Trail guided walk; 2pm Story Telling; 9.30pm Night Time Stroll
Wednesday 1st June
10am Wetland Trail guided walk; 2pm Stream Dipping
Thursday 2nd June
10.30am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Story Telling
Friday 3rd June
10am Wetland Trail guided walk; 2pm Origami Duck make & race
Saturday 4th June
6.30am Family Birdsong Walk; 10.30am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Musical themes; 9.30pm Night Time Stroll
Sunday 5th June
10am Wetland Trail guided Walk; 10.30 am Family Funtime guided walk; 2pm Mini shelter building & bug hunt
We look forward to welcoming you to the RSPB's newest reserve
The Birdwatchers Spring Fair over the weekend was, as the saying goes, a game of two halves. Saturday was very busy with lots of visitors clamouring amongst the exhibits and more importantly from my point of view, taking advantage of our guided walks.
From my posting in our new car park, I was able to talk to the visitors as they came and went to and from the reserve. The amount of good comments were very encouraging and I thank all those that spoke to me and completed the dreaded 'Visitor Questionnaires'. Your feedback is proving to be very valuable and I hope to have my shed soon! (Nudge nudge Nick)
Sunday was a totally different kettle of poisson. Very windy conditions and changeable weather meant visitor numbers were down along with our car park marquee! Having said that, our guided walks were still very popular but I took pity on our visitors and reduced the number of questionnaire 'asks' because it's difficult to complete a four page form when it's flying around your earholes.
The Birdwatchers Spring Fair did draw in visitors from around the country and we benefitted by being able to show off Middleton Lakes to first timers.
Preparations have been taking place for weeks leading up to today. Except for missing one or two signs (which arrived this morning!), the reserve was looking splendid. Visitors from far and wide converged on the ballroom of Middleton Hall to be welcomed by the resident RSPB staff.
Coffee, biscuits, a quick chat and we were summoned in to the Great Hall where we listened to speeches given by a collection of dignatories including Mike Clarke (RSPB) and Les Sparks (HLF). It was soon evident we had arrived at a very significant milestone in the ongoing development of our new reserve here at Middleton Lakes and the processes involved in getting here were far reaching and dependent on an awful lot of people, organisations and bags of good will.
Project Manager Nick Martin explained the vision everyone had kept in mind over the past 4 years and that was that this reserve was to provide somewhere to enjoy nature of all types, at all levels and was for everyone.
Speeches over, we made our way after lunch to the play meadow where, to commemorate the occasion, an oak tree was planted along with native bluebells . We will watch their progress with interest as the reserve develops.
We took advantage of the unexpected but welcome sunshine and walked through the play meadow, along the Woodland Trail to arrive at our Canal View point where we looked over the newly established wetlands. Our visitors were delighted at the progress that had been made and they too shared out thoughts in that Middleton Lakes is a great place to visit now and can only improve!
Many thanks to everyone involved today, too numerous to mention but we had a really great day.