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News article created on 18 February 2015

Rez of light

Fradley Pool is a reservoir that sits near the junction of the Trent & Mersey and the Coventry canals that’s become a bird-watching haven.

Stuart Collins is a framework ecologist at the Canal & River Trust.

Fradley Pool is a small feeder reservoir for the Trent & Mersey.  It’s about five acres, surrounded by semi-mature woodlands. There’s a small bird hide and a feeding station and you can walk around the rezzy in ten or fifteen minutes. It’s a real honeypot on a weekend. It’s as attractive as the shops or the pub.

I put in the first feeder station in 2008 and since the Canal & River Trust became a charity, we’ve got volunteers in. We found people who live close by to top up the feeders. The volunteers are helping biodiversity, like making piles of grass for bugs rather than taking cuttings away. If you’ve got insects, you’ve got food for birds.

We started a bird watching class in August, just to give something back. It’s a monthly meeting, teaching people how to identify common birds. We’ve got one 18-year-old who is off to the Amazon for six months soon and a mother who wanted to bring her 11-year-old daughter along. People come along because they see birds when they’re washing up and they don’t know what they are. I am assisted by Tony Slater who signed up as a volunteer and helps out with any bird identification for the groups.

Treecreepers can get a bit showy. I’ve seen one within six foot of me on a tree. We get all the tit species: great, blue, long tail and coal. Robins, dunnocks, mallards and coots. Last year was the second year we had common terns breeding and we might get a couple more in this year. We had four lesser redpolls the other day and a firecrest in early January. I didn’t see that, but my colleague did.

Birdwatching helps you understand how the woodland changes. I have a colleague who is very knowledgeable about wild flowers and trees and I’ll get him in to talk about that when the flowers come up. In the autumn we might get a fungi specialist in. People get to see how the reservoir changes, what happens to the different birds in the summer and the winter. We try and pass on as much as we can.

I love birds. If I’m not at work I’m bird watching. Getting people to understand them a bit better, that’s wonderful. We did a little quiz at Christmas to see how people were getting on. They were learning – people knew the difference between a moorhen and a coot.

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