Access to birdwatch at Blithfield Reservoir is by Inclusive Club Membership only.
Individual day permits are not issued
Blithfield Reservoir is a large expanse of water covering some 324 ha and owned by South Staffordshire Water plc who lease the right to birdwatch at the site to the West Midland Bird Club. A Bird Club Management Team act in an advisory capacity in connection to the birding and conservation administration of the site. Blithfield is regarded as one of the region's best bird-watching sites that provides interest year round. The reservoir and much of the surrounding woodland is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the stewardship of Natural England. This woodland and surrounding mixed farmland add a diverse mixture of habitat that, along with the reservoir, its exposed shoreline and reed-beds, plays host to an equally diverse mixture of bird species. The physical expanse of the water is an attraction to waterfowl and migrating wading birds while spring and autumn passage would not be complete without the appearance of Osprey.
Reserve Management Team Contacts
John Holt - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Main Access - South Staffordshire Water plc Education Centre, accessed via Newton Hurst Lane - O/S Grid ref: SK053250
The most productive areas are Tad and Blithe bays that are situated at the north-west shallow end of the reservoir and these are accessed via the South Staffordshire Water Company Education centre where parking is available and footpaths from here lead to the reservoir shoreline and observation hides, Tad Bay is a designated reserve area. After proceeding along the main entrance road and parking near the education centre, Tad Bay is easily reached through a gate to the left of the drive and Blithe Bay via a locked gate to the right. It is possible, however, to drive around Beech Tree Point into Blithe Bay. Vehicular access to Blithe Bay is also possible from the western end of the causeway but the track is often unsuitable for cars or it may be closed altogether. Similarly it is possible to drive around the tracks of the reservoir to the south of the causeway, known as the Deep End where the tracks are better maintained. If you plan to visit the reservoir for the first time and feel that you require some assistance, please contact the management team through the e-mail address provided above. Several gates around the reservoir are locked and can be opened by a key which can be obtained from the Estate Office that is located on the approach road to the dam and on the production of your WMBC Inclusive Membership card, for a charge by the South Staffs Water Company of £5.00. If you have any difficulty with this, again please contact our management team through the e-mail address provided above. Access to other areas is via footpath from the causeway or the Sailing Club. A relevant car sticker that announces your presence is supplied annually to Inclusive members and these stickers must be displayed in your vehicle/vehicles at all time when visiting. Your inclusive membership card should also be carried with you at all times as the Water Company insists that regular permit checks are made by bailiffs and Club wardens. Additional car stickers may be obtained from the WMBC Membership Secretary or via the contact details above. Failure to comply with these requests may result in a request to leave the Blithfield Reserve.
Notice - Tad Bay access limit. In order to avoid disturbance to the birds in Tad Bay there is strictly no access to this area beyond the Forward Hide - Thank You.
Blithfield Reservoir Location Map
One of a great variety of wading birds that visit the site and in the case of this species, Little Ringed Plover, breed at Blithfield - photo - Steve Edwards
Use the Staffordshire Bird News link to access all up-to-date bird sightings for the area. Blithfield Reservoir sightings will be posted when relevant
Blithfield Reservoir News
The management team feel that in view of the recent and continuing development of this reserve, it would seem highly appropriate to include a site map on this page. This map provides a full layout of the site, how to gain access to the site from a variety of routes and most importantly, the whereabouts of the bird observation hides. As stated elsewhere on this page, being familiar with your location at all times while visiting Blithfield is of prime importance to a good health and safety policy.
Originally designed and produced by Andy Lawrence as West Midland Bird Club publicity literature, this map has now been amended by the reserve management team to include all named bird hide locations, subsequently being reproduced by Andy to form this new version. Please use the link below to view the map.
"Let's put up a couple of nest boxes"
easier said than done
Take a look at the accompanying photograph of Little Owl and Barn Owl nest boxes to appreciate the amount of work that goes into their construction and, it doesn't end there. These beautifully constructed boxes are of considerable size, transporting them to site and then erecting them is another major task for our reserve team at blithfield.
Little Owl - Blithfield - Steve Edwards
Attracting breeding owl species can be a hit and miss affair but these two well constructed boxes will certainly go a long way toward enticing the owl population at the reserve to take up residence.
photograph of boxes - Jerry Ray
Blithfield Access Keys
Any WMBC member wishing to apply for a key to gain access to certain parts of this reserve will benefit by reading the information provided in the link below
Developing all of our reserves is of prime importance and an on going task in
making certain that we provide the best of facilities.
Spotted Flycatcher - Blithfield Reserve - Steve Edwards
As part of the on-going Blithfield nest box scheme, boxes that will hopefully attract breeding Spotted Flycatcher have been placed appropriately. The adjacent photograph by Jerry Ray shows a box in a riverside Oak on the Blithe. This species has seen a massive decline in its breeding population and is RED listed here in the UK. The first birds will begin to arrive back here in our region from their African wintering grounds around the end of April with the main influx arriving in May, let's hope that our efforts here at Blithfield will contribute to a recovery in their numbers.
Spotted Flycatcher nest box sited in a riverside Oak on the Blithe - Photograph Jerry Ray
All of the bird observation hides at our Blithfield Reserve are in the process of having name plates placed on them. This project will be completed during the summer months. Other than providing a personal touch, this is an excellent way of providing whereabouts details, whether for birding or personal purpose. Naming the hide that you are in or closest to, provides perfect site location details.
Safety and the well being of all visitors is of paramount importance at all times. At every opportunity this will be acted upon and this project is in keeping with the overall improvements of this reserve for all facilities.
The adjacent photograph by Jerry Ray gives an example of the new name plates.
Success with the Blithfield Tern Raft
The Blithfield management team are delighted to report that Common Tern have bred successfully on the Blithfield Tern raft. Currently, 27/06/2017, there are 6 chicks and as yet, 8 unhatched eggs.
We had become increasingly optimistic that something was happening. The Terns had become very aggressive to gulls and we noted that they appeared to be fishing and then dropping down onto the raft. Because of the perspex Mink guards it was difficult to see what was happening on the pebbles so Becky Owens and myself took a boat to see what was happening. The photographs tell the tale. Jerry Ray
First sign through the perspex Mink guard Trying to make themselves invisible
Orange legs and feet are the give away Two of the unhatched eggs - all photographs by Jerry Ray
Rhododendron removal grant for Blithfield
South Staffs Water has been working jointly with the Woodland Trust to make an application for a grant to remove Rhododendron at Blithfield. This application has been successful and contractors will be in later this month to complete the work.
Rhododendron is extremely invasive and has taken over a large part of Duckley's woodland. It creates acidic conditions which native plants cannot survive in and trees struggle to regenerate amongst it. By removing the Rhododendron, native species will be able to return, thereby bringing the woodland back into its natural state which will increase the biodiversity of species.
Blithfield Management Team
Rhododendron in Duckley's woodland
Photograph - Jerry Ray
New Appointment at Blithfield
South Staffordshire Water have recently made a new appointment to the position of Estate Warden at Blithfield Resevoir.
I’m delighted to inform you that Richard Whiting has joined the Estate Team. Taking up his position in January
Here is a little bit about Richard in his own words.
“ My practical experience and love of natural history has kept me focused on the outdoor
delivery of conservation work. Seeing the natural environment better managed through
my endeavours and peoples enjoyment of wildlife, enhanced through enthusiastic
interpretation, are what really drives me.
Having attained a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science at Bradford University. I have since
worked for Charities and local authorities over a 22 year period. Undertaking, practical habitat
management and estate management at nature reserves, country parks and green spaces.
I get a genuine buzz by taking pride in site management and sharing my knowledge of nature
through guided walks and events.
I have recently worked as a self- employed conservation contractor, but previous to this I was a Project Manager and Officer with Cheshire and Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts. With responsibility for grant funded projects in Living Landscape projects. From 1994 until 1999 I worked as a seasonal Ranger, Naturalist and Forester for Natural Trust Scotland (Culzean & Crathes) A period in my career I very much enjoyed. On my return to England I took up a role as Countryside Ranger for Staffordshire County Council until 2012. I then moved closer to my home in Leek and worked as a Practical Projects Officer for the Churnet Valley LLP . Working closely with the RSPB Woodlands Officer and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Grassland / Wetland ecologists on varying conservation projects.
I am very much looking forward to my new role at Blithfield and working with the WMBC volunteer groups. In my wider role I have much planned, and one of my objectives is to improve habitat to encourage back some of the species not seen here for some time.”
Richard is married and has two young daughters. His interests apart from time with his family are fishing, walking and enjoying the many facets the countryside brings.
The WMBC Blithfield management group are genuinely excited by Richards appointment and look forward to working alongside and supporting him as he gets to grips with his new role.
Taking a well earned break
This was our first work party of 2018. The group were assisting Richard Whiting and Alan Shenton from South Staffs. Water on a woodland management project in Stansley Wood. Thinning out of invasive Sycamore, thus allowing in more light and creating habitat improvement for Willow Tit in Hazel and Birch stands being some of the work undertaken. The thinned Hazel was being separated and graded, later to be made in to Hazel Screens for other parts of the estate.
My thanks go to Judith Blair, Keith Dunton, Darron Hayes, Trevor Hardiman, John Holt, Jamie MacLauchlan, Dave Pantry and Roger Rooke for once again supporting this important ongoing work.
A staggering picture of Blithfield feeling the effects of Storm Emma.
Photo Credit- Graham Manton