Brockholes – The Story So far…

1 November 2013

It is two and a half years since Lancashire’s newest nature reserve opened to the public and what a journey it has been so far. The reserve is growing and changing as it matures and each season brings an exciting array of landscape colours and wildlife.

Out on the reserve our winter duck populations are starting to build in numbers now and they return from their breeding sites to flock together for safety through the winter. We will reach our full complement of a few hundred by December. These numbers currently consist of mallard, gadwall, goldeneye, tufted duck and pochard.

Most of the Autumn migrants will have passed through now using the reserve as a pit stop or bed and breakfast on their way to sunnier, southern climes although you can still see redshank, green sandpiper, snipe, great crested grebe and the odd late greenshank.

As with all wildlife in Autumn the aim of the game is to build up enough fat reserves to survive the winter, so the daylight hours are spent in an almost continuous search for food. The diving ducks (pochard, tufted duck and goldeneye) are found in the deeper parts of the larger lakes, the dabbling ducks (mallard, gadwall, shoveler) are found in the shallower parts of the lakes sifting through the surface water finding enough morsels of food to see them through the colder nights.

The wading birds can be found mainly on the large island in the centre of No 1 Pit probing the mud searching for unwary invertebrates that will make a tasty snack. The rare tree sparrow (country cousin of the house sparrow) flocks together this time of year and up to 25 can be seen around the office and visitor centre along with brambling and winter finch and tit flocks all joined together by a single goal, to find food.

Hares and roe deer are far more visible this time of year as the colder nights are also forcing them out during daylight hours to find food.

Elsewhere it’s not just the wildlife preparing for the winter as Brockholes gears up for a fantastic Christmas packed with festive fun, food and shopping!

Father Christmas will be the special guest at the Brockholes Christmas Festival, which is three days of festive fun for all the family, and is taking place on December 21, 22 and 23 (11am-3pm).

Children can experience the magic of meeting Santa, as well as receiving a gift and having their photo taken with him. In addition, children can visit our Christmas stable that will feature donkeys from a local sanctuary.

The festival will play host to a variety of other festive-themed events, including making a wreath, crafting your own snow globe, a special children’s Christmas storytime, while there is also a special Christmas Trail out on the reserve. Here nature lovers can head off around the reserve in search of some festive clues. Trail cards are available from reception. Day passes for the festival, which guarantee you will take part in all of these great activities, are available for £12.

There is a day of Christmas Activities on Sat 14 Dec (11am-3pm) where we will be enjoying a series of festive themed drop-in crafts and activities. These will include card making and hobby reindeer making!

There will also be Withy Lantern Making (27, 28 & 29 Dec, 11am-3pm, £3 per lantern) which will give you the chance to get creative between Christmas and New Year. The lantern is ideal for you to take home and light your garden with on these long, dark evenings throughout the winter too!

For Christmas shoppers we have a magical and unique range of goodies in our two shops that will put a smile on any face this Christmas morning. Remember, all proceeds from sales are reinvested into maintaining and developing the reserve, meaning you get not only a bargain but make a conscientious purchase too.  And after all that wildlife spotting, fun and shopping, visitors can also enjoy a pre-booked three course Christmas lunch (weekdays Nov 25-Dec 20) or a Christmas Carvery (Sundays 1, 8 & 15 Dec). Our restaurant is the perfect venue for these tasty treats, as it offers stunning panoramic views of the lake and (hopefully some) wildlife.

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