Severn Trent's Tittesworth site comprises a 76-hectare (188 acres) reservoir, principally fed by the River Churnet, with surrounding woodland and meadows. It was built between 1959 and 1963 in place of a 1858 dam, which had been used to regulate the flow of the Churnet for use in Leek's textile mills. The reservoir holds 6.4 billion litres (1.4 billion gallons) and provides 455 million litres (10 million gallons) of water per day, to Leek, Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area. The northern end of the reservoir is crossed by a causeway, which forms the southern boundary of the site's Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). The ESA consists of that part of the reservoir known as the Conservation Pool and its bordering fields and woodland. Recently a feeder stream to the pool has been partially dammed to form a marshy area in order to attract more waders and, hopefully to encourage breeding of Lapwings and Curlew. In addition several shallow pools have been made in the ESA. Two bird hides overlook the Conservation Pool and this is the only public access allowed in the ESA. Many birders take the opportunity of viewing much of the Conservation Pool and the northern end of the main reservoir from the causeway.
A footpath allows the visitor to walk around the reservoir (including two very short stretches of public road), a distance of almost 8 Km (5 miles). The footpath (signposted "Long Trail") passes through all the site's major woods and meadows. There is, however, a shorter walk, signposted "Short Trail". Starting from the visitor centre it takes in the end of the Churnet valley, the Churnet Bay meadow and Foster's Wood. The distance of this circular walk is about 3 Km (~2 miles). As well as the natural wildlife and plantlife that can be enjoyed on site, there are spectacular views of the rocky Roaches, Hen Cloud and Ramshaw Rocks.
The site is 4.8 Km (3 miles) north of Leek.
TheTittesworth Visitor Centre is at Meerbrook, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 8SW; map reference: SJ9960 .
Tittesworth is off the A53 Leek to Buxton road. Look out for the brown and white site signs. When approaching from Leek turn left at the Three Horseshoes, Blackshaw Moor. When approaching from Buxton turn right at the same point. When travelling from the Macclesfield direction along the A523, on reaching Rushton, follow the signs to Meerbrook village. The causeway is at the eastern end of Meebrook.
Bus number X18 from Leek bus station can take the visitor as far as the Three Horseshoes. Walk for about 800 metres (half a mile) along Blackshaw Lane and enter the site via a footpath next to the River Churnet.
The site is open everyday except Christmas Day, from sunrise to sunset. The modern visitor centre has a small shop, toilets, a restaurant with views over the main reservoir, information desk and display area. It is open from 10am to 6pm in the summer and 10am to 4pm in the winter. The ranger base is attached to the visitor centre. There is a large car park, covered barbecue area and a safe children's playground. People using wheelchairs can access the two bird hides, overlooking the Conservation Pool. Activities organised by the Ranger Service throughout the year are designed to encourage the public to appreciate wildlife and the local landscape.
Tittesworth is arguably an under-watched site; nevertheless, well in excess of 200 bird species have been recorded. The site has become well known as a stopover point for migrating Ospreys. It is also a good site for winter thrushes — Fieldfare and Redwing, often topping 400 for each species. In 2001 the heronry was re-established for the first time in over 40 years. Pied Flycatchers have taken to the Churnet valley on the site and have bred in the last two years. Crossbills bred on site for the first time in 2003.
For the scientific names of these birds, and their local status, see our county lists.
Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Kestrel, Pheasant, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dipper, Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay and Bullfinch.
Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Redstart, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher and Reed Bunting.
Passage migrants include Hobby, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Tern, Black Tern, Cuckoo, Sand Martin, Whinchat and Wheatear.
Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Gull, winter thrushes, Brambling, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.
Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Fulmar, Shag, Bittern, Little Egret, Great White Egret (October 2003), Spoonbill (2002), Brent Goose, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal (2002), Red-crested Pochard (2002), Ferruginous Duck (2001), Scaup, Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Smew, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Rough-legged Buzzard, Water Rail, Avocet, Temminck's Stint, White-rumped Sandpiper (1984), Purple Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper (September 2003), Jack Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Grey Phalarope, Great Skua, Ringed-billed Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Little Auk, Turtle Dove, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Shorelark, Bluethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Wood Warbler, Firecrest, Arctic Redpoll, Crossbill, Snow Bunting and Yellowhammer.
Rudyard Lake is just over 3 Km (two miles) to the west of Tittesworth. The resident, seasonal visitors and passage migrants are similar to those found at Tittesworth.
Thanks to Ray Perry for writing this page, and for his photographs.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Friday 06 December 2013 09:18:16
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