“ Address: Arpley Landfill Site / Forrest Way / Sankey Bridges / Warrington WA4 6YZ / Cheshire / England „
Moore Nature Reserve is located in a narrow strip of land between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, near the busy towns of Warrington and Runcorn. The 200 acre site was previously farmland, then a sand quarry and has been managed as a nature reserve since 1991. The site is managed by wardens employed by Waste Recycling Group Ltd who operate the adjacent Arpley Landfill tip. Waste Recycling Group have made a marvellous job of converting the disused quarry into a mosaic of woodland, meadows, lakes and ponds, and at the same time creating a network of paths for visitors to walk, with a variety of bird hides for people to watch from. The reserve is both a wonderful resource for local people to use, but as one of the best bird watching sites in Cheshire, it's visited by people from miles around. The reserve's website (http://www.wrg.co.uk/moorenaturereserve) contains lots of useful information about the reserve including a reserve map and directions to get there. There's also a section on the website to report any interesting sightings; recent sightings include escaped chipmunks(!), ring necked parakeets, terrapin(?!), stoats, as well as rare birds such as bitterns. This is one of my local walks; I visit here every fortnight. The reserve has a good range of paths so a different walk can be embarked upon each time I visit without covering the same ground. There are, however, no facilities on the reserve, but plenty of roadside parking. My main interest is the birds as Moore is great for bird watching. At least one, sometimes more bitterns spend the winter here every year. Black-necked grebes breed here most years, which is quite special as these are extremely rare indeed. Other scarce birds such as long-eared owls and lesser spotted woodpeckers can also be found here so the site has a good range of common and rarer species to track down. Another feature of the reserve is its gulls. The presence of the landfill site next door ensures that, during the winter, thousands of gulls visit to feed and bathe in the reserve's pools. Amongst the commoner species can often be found rarer gulls such as Iceland and glaucous gulls. I've heard it said that this is the premier gull watching site in the UK! For the non-birdwatcher though, there's still plenty to see and do. The reserve has been landscaped in quite a lovely way. The main part of the reserve is broadleaved woodland, with the five large lakes set amongst the trees. This means that visitors following the paths through the woodland come suddenly to a break in the trees with a glistening lake spread out before them. On the lake will be some of the many wildfowl to be found here. The many bird hides can be good places to stop for a rest or a drink or bite to eat whilst watching the swans gliding serenely by or the coots (not serene at all!) squabbling for no apparent reason. The reserve is popular with dog walkers. Due to recent problems, however, the wardens insist that all dogs must be kept on a lead (except in the dedicated dog walking meadow). The wardens host an impressive series of events at Moore. These range from dawn chorus walks, to pond dipping, small mammal trapping, and bat and moth nights. These events are free of charge and open to all. At each of the walks, experts are on hand to explain what you're seeing and answer any questions the visitors may have. A full list of upcoming events is shown on the website. Some are being held during the summer holidays and would make a fascinating but cheap day out for the kids. Immediately adjoining the reserve to the west is the Forestry Commission's Upper Moss Side reserve. This is a mixture of farmland, wildflower meadow, new woodland, with a hide overlooking the River Mersey and its salt marsh. In the summer, the wildflowers are a glorious sight and a wander around this area gives a beautiful extension to a day's walk at Moore. I really enjoy walking around Moore Nature Reserve and can recommend it to any locals or walkers who are visiting the area. For birdwatchers, this prime site is worth a visit at any time if you're nearby.