Newsflash: In January 2010, we doubled the capacity of the car park at Belvide, to accomodate 25–30 cars, which will cater for the increased amount of visitors to the reserve, especially when rare birds are present. The car park gate and gateposts were also re-aligned for efficient operation. Don't forget you can also reach the reserve by public transport.
The a 180-acre canal feeder reservoir was constructed in 1834 to supply what is now the Shropshire Union Canal, but did not attract the attention of ornithologists until the 1920s, when A.W. Boyd (who referred to the reservoir as 'Bellfields', to disguise its identity) began visiting regularly and published many of his observations in the magazine British Birds.
Boyd, and H.G. Alexander who was a regular visitor in the 1930s, were responsible for putting Belvide on the bird-watching map and the reservoir was soon established as one of the most important ornithological sites in the Midlands. It is now scheduled as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Despite its proximity to Wolverhampton, the reserve is essentially rural in character being situated in gently undulating mixed farmland. Apart from the reservoir itself there are a variety of habitats, including woodland, reed-beds and unimproved pasture, within a relatively small area and as a result there is a rich diversity of bird life throughout the year.
In winter the focus is mainly on wildfowl. All the commoner surface feeders occur with Mallard, Wigeon and Teal numbers all having peaked at over 800. Diving ducks also feature prominently and in recent years the water seems to have been particularly suited to Goosanders. Belvide is also the regular haunt of that controversial, but attractive, species, the Ruddy Duck, numbers of which have reached over 400.
Divers occur most years, with Great Northern Diver the most frequently seen. Bewick's Swans and small parties of grey geese are also annual visitors. From November to March large numbers of gulls present a spectacular sight as they gather each evening to roost. From time to time Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls can be found amongst hundreds of the commoner species.
In spring an autumn the number and variety of wading birds can be quite outstanding for an inland site. With a suitable water level and shoreline conditions a dozen or more species might be seen in one day. Some of the rarer waders that have visited the reserve include Marsh-, Spotted- and Pectoral Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilt, Temminck's Stint and both Red-necked- and Grey Phalaropes.
Flocks of migrating Terns are a feature of both passage periods, but especially the spring. As many as 200 Black Terns have been counted on exceptional days and Arctic Terns can also occur in large numbers. Little and Sandwich Terns pass through most years and White-winged Black-, Whiskered- and Caspian Terns have also been recorded.
In recent years Marsh Harriers and Black-necked Grebes have occurred annually in spring and a pair of Hobbies can usually be relied upon to appear from the end of April onwards.
During summer the hedges and reedbeds are alive with warblers — nine species nest on the reserve, including Reed Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. In July 1993 an Icterine Warbler was found, the first record of this species in Staffordshire. Over the water large flocks of Swifts and hirundines feed and in the woodland Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Spotted Flycatchers are amongst the breeding species.
Breeding birds in 2002 included Oystercatchers and Common Terns, while recent visitors have included Spotted Crake, Long-tailed Duck, White-headed Duck and a Wood Sandpiper.
Since Belvide was made a West Midland Bird Club reserve in January 1977, a great deal of habitat management work has been undertaken by Club members to improve the area for birds. Three observation hides have been built and these provide excellent vantage points from which to look out over the reservoir. Work in the area known as West Marsh is going to start this year. With the help of British Waterways, we hope to increase the number of waders that visit Belvide, on their Spring and Autumn passage. Target species include Snipe, Jack Snipe, Curlew, Water Rail and various Sandpipers. The work will also be beneficial to dragonflies and water voles.
A work management plan is taking place in the woods; the aim is to take down damaged trees and some Hawthorn, which will be replaced with Oak and Elm. A pond will be cleared and a new feeding station will be erected.
These projects will only be achieved with the help of Club members. If you would like to become involved with any of the projects, please contact Rob Swift at email@example.com or 'phone 07702 207392 (mobile)/ 01785 257582 (home).
Bird ringing is undertaken on behalf of the club, by the Brewood Ringers
On a warm spring day, with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing, Lapwings tumbling and calling in their crazy nuptial flights over the surrounding fields, newly arrived Redshanks that will nest in the long lush grass of the reservoir margins proclaiming their presence with wild yodelling calls, and summer's first Swallows dipping low over the water, Belvide is indeed a birdwatcher's delight — a place where the whole family can visit and enjoy the pleasure of watching birds together. It is hard to imagine that this tranquil haven of wildlife is but a stone's throw from the busy A5. Now virtually the only major water in the Midlands which remains free from sailing activities, Belvide is a bird haunt of the greatest importance which, with continuing planned and careful management, controlled access and the goodwill of landowners and users alike, will remain one of the finest wetland reserves in the area.
Busses serving Kiddemore Green, about an eight-minute walk from the reservoir, include:
To plan a public transport journey in our region use the Traveline Midlands journey planner.
Routes to and around the reserve are shown on our maps of Belvide, which also indicate the features of the site.
Combination padlocks are used on the gate and hides, and the code will be issued to all permit holders. The code will allow access to the Belvide car park where limited car parking space is available, and to the hides. Please park with reasonable consideration for others. Do not leave valuable items in your car and ensure that the vehicle is locked.
The Munns Hide was especially built for disabled access after money was kindly donated by Mrs. Munns whose husband was a member of the Club. Viewing from wheelchair is easy and the pathway from the car park to this hide is flat and manageable. A companion would help towards an enjoyable visit due to the gates on the site.
Visiting is by permit only — the reserve is not open to the public.
Permits are supplied free of charge to "inclusive" members of the West Midland Bird Club and allow all members of the permit holder's family, resident at the holder's address, to visit Belvide and Gailey reservoirs (and also the Blithfield and Ladywalk reserves) either as a group or singly, and to escort up to two guests onto the site.
"Standard" members wishing to upgrade to "Inclusive" membership should contact our Membership Secretary.
For other individuals, combined permits to visit Belvide and Gailey can be obtained, on an individual basis.
Organised groups wishing to visit should contact our secretary.
All reserve visitors must read and follow the rules and regulations for the site which are posted in the hides. The protocol arrangement for the Angling Club that uses the water is also available for inspection in the Munns Hide.
Please note that:
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Thursday 23 May 2013 14:23:28
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