Birdwatching hide at Wood Lane
The bird-watcher's paradise
Ellesmere is well-known for its collection of glacial lakes, but just a short distance away lies a man-made lake which in just a few years has become one of the best bird-watching sites in Shropshire.
In 2000 this site was a disused industrial wasteland, a worked out part of a sand and gravel quarry. But while the quarrying continues on one end of the site, the disused portion was re-modelled into a series of islands, surrounded by a series of lagoons.
Lagoon at Wood Lane
In five years, Wood Lane has become a haven for long-legged water birds, with spring and autumn visitors including greenshank, redshank, whimbrel, dunlin, green sandpiper and little stint. These use the site as somewhere to rest during migration, while the variety of ducks to be seen are visitors all year round.
Their presence is no doubt helped by the reserve's location close to four of Ellesmere's natural lakes.
Lapwings - in decline just about everwhere else - and little ringed plover also come here to breed, and curlew roost here over winter. In fact more than 170 species have been recorded at Wood Lane, including Shropshire's first sighting of an avocet and the occasional osprey.
Now managed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, the site has two hides for observing the wading birds on the carefully-managed lagoons. Some of the lagoons can be fished with permits, and their water levels can be adjusted in order to expose areas of bare mud flats - an open invitation to hungry wading birds.
Wood Lane is north Shropshire's largest quarry still working, and since the 1930s the sand, gravel and clay excavated here has been used for all sorts of purposes.
Bridges take you across to the islands
Here can be found deposits of sand, gravel and clay transported to the area from as far away as Ireland, Cumbria and north Wales which have been used to build airfields, factories, hospitals, houses and schools in north Shropshire and beyond.
The nature reserve occupies 2.5 hectares of the 81 hectare total site. It peters out at the point where the quarry is still worked, but the wildlife doesn't!
The huge piles of sand and freshly-exposed quarry faces have become popular with a huge colony of sand martins - up to 500 pairs have been recorded here.
To find Wood Lane Nature Reserve take the Colemere road (including a brown sign pointing towards Colemere Sailing Club) off the A528, 2km south-east of Ellesmere at the Spunhill crossroads. The car park is ¾ mile down on the right. Top car park is often closed and locked, but the second car park - easy to miss - is usually open.
Sand martins nest in this sand heap
Access: Apply to Shropshire Wildlife Trust for a permit for access to the hides. For more information call 01743 284289 or email: email@example.com.
This reserve is accessible to people of all abilities.
last updated: 22/06/07
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