RSPB Walsall Local Group

a million voices for nature

Field Trip: Mill Lane

18 June 2003

Every year our final "indoor" meeting before the Summer break is held outdoors, in the form of a local field trip. This year, we paid our first visit to Mil Lane, a new nature reserve close to th centre of Walsall. The reserve was created by Walsall Countryside Services with the aid of a grant from the Local Heritage Initiative and is named after a mill which was formerly on the site. This mill is listed in th Domesday Book and is known to have been in use up to th nineteenth century. Latterly, the site house Ryecroft engine sheds ad was crossed by several railway lines, evidence of which are still present although much overgrown.

Our walk followed th new nature trial and was kindly led by Diana Miles of Walsall Countryside Services.

The start of the walk is from a signboard on Mill Lane - there is no car park. From here, several Wood Pigeons were seen, as well as swifts circling overhead, taking insects with ease in th evening air. Moving along an embankment we passed Willow Warbler in the trees and heard Blue Tits calling. From here, there was a good view of the reserve and across to Rushall Church. The most surprising aspect of the view was the number of trees, the reserve itself is quite new, but clearly has been left relatively undisturbed for several years.

The trail carries on alongside Ryecroft Cemetery for a short way, before turning right up a steep path. A Whitethroat was calling here, with a Song Thrush somewhere in the distance. By now, it was clear that we were not having much success seeing birds - the trees were of course I full leaf - but the wild flowers more than made up for this. The site is apparently a mix of areas of acidic and lime soils, as a result of years of industrial use.

There are three pools which are popular with local anglers, although there were none present on this evening. At the end of the pools, a Reed Bunting was calling. (On a previous visit, I heard Reed Warbler from here.) This was also a good spot for Orchids, believed to be Southern Spot and Common Spotted.

Crossing the lane, we climbed the old spoil heap, from where we had good views of Walsall Town Centre. Returning to th starting point, we saw a party of about half a dozen Long- tailed Tits.

To sum up, I think Mill Lane surprised quite a few people. Firstly that it existed, and so close to the town centre. Secondly, the abundance of wild flowers, some rare. Walsall Council are to be commended for creating this reserve - hopefully, they will be able to find funds to maintain it in good order.

On behalf of the Walsall RSPB Local Group, I would like to thank Diana Miles for taking the time to show us around and point out many interesting features.

Mike Pittaway

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