Posted on 9 March 2012
If you watch the nature watch programs on BBC TV, Spring Watch, Autumn Watch, etc, you may be inspired to see with your own eyes rather than through the cameras on TV.
So, where to go for us city dwellers that won’t take all day driving rather than observing?
One well populated place currently is Sandwell Valley, just north of West Bromwich Albion football ground. See Google map.
In the Swan Pool at the point indicated I found Coots, Tufted Ducks, Mallard Ducks and Great Crested Grebes. Two of the Grebes we believe have a nest there on the South of the island, and with a bit of luck you might witness them doing a courting dance lifting themselves way out of the water during it.
South of there are three smaller pools with Swans. More spectularly, these are the current nesting places for several pairs of Grey Herons. These, not very pretty, but huge birds are darting around the two islands gathering large twigs for nest-building. It’s all very spectacular and any action is sudden and unexpected, so you have to keep watching.
They are large birds:
- standing up to 100 cm (39 in) tall.
- in length 84–102 cm (33–40 in).
- wingspan 155–195 cm (61–77 in) (my armspan is 176cm!).
- body weight can range from 1.02–2.08 kg (2.2–4.6 lb). (No wonder I can’t fly!)
Take binoculars (or a long focal length camera) to catch these sights. It’s very rewarding and a very beautiful setting.
Below, is a placard seen at the South side of Swan Pool showing what birds you might see.
Also, just round the corner from KEW is the Edgbaston Reservoir. This has just been awarded Local Nature Reserve status by Natural England.
It currently is a little depleted of water (like most other reservoirs) so the water doesn’t reach the trees, bushes, etc, that normally rise out of the water. I think this probably has also depleted visiting bird species. All I saw there were Canada Geese, Malard Ducks and Coots which are a common sight in local canals, of course.
Article by Geoff Caine