Having had enough of the terrible customer service at my usual haunt, Brandon Marsh, I was really looking forward to trying somewhere new this weekend. RSPB Middleton Lakes is a little further than usual, but is still easily within a 30-minute drive, and we were swayed by frequent reports of interesting species there. It turns out that Middleton Lakes is literally right next to Middleton Hall, a historic manor house with attached tea room, which is an added bonus. I can now attest to their quality of their milkshakes…
Despite knowing little about Middleton Lakes, I was shocked when it turned out to be much, much bigger than Brandon, and it was just so much better. It seemed to be far more alive, too, with ducks and geese along the warren-like wetland network nearly as far as the eye could see. Being able to see Water Rail chicks within 2 minutes of arrival certainly helps, but there was a great range of species on offer. I had a lifer- Great White Egret, and I’m sure I would have had a couple more had I brought a telescope. A Marsh Harrier was spotted earlier in the day- alas, what could have been! Dragonflies and butterflies were everywhere, and even better, the site was bustling with families both young and old. Middleton Lakes has clearly found a formula that works, and it was a joy to behold!
The RSPB staff were friendly, approachable and knowledgeable, and featured a pleasing mix of young and old for once. This put into context quite how bad the ‘welcoming committee’ is at Brandon Marsh, Brandon being far more Stasi than smiley. I’ve been going there since probably before I could walk, and trust me, it can’t get any worse than it is now! Middleton Lakes was also cheaper, at £3 per car as opposed to £2.50 a head at Brandon. In short, if you are in need of a nature fix in the Warwickshire/Midlands area, then you could do an awful lot worse than Middleton Lakes. I’m pretty sure you could even see parts of Birmingham’s skyline in the distance, but I could be wrong.
All in all, Middleton Lakes is genuinely the best reserve you can find in Warwickshire, and is absolutely worth a visit! I just really don’t know why I hadn’t been sooner…