Maer Lake

This stunning freshwater wetland reserve was jointly purchased with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 1993 and has become an extremely important reserve for breeding, feeding and roosting birds. Maer Lake consists of 22 acres of wetland grazing meadows, which lie on the northern side of Bude town at Grid Ref SS208075 and are a short distance from the sea. Depending on rainfall, anything between two and fifteen acres can lie under water, and around two acres are covered in flag iris.

The reserve is internationally acknowledged as an important resting and feeding site for migrating birds. Spring highlights have included Spoonbill, Temmink’s Stint, Marsh harrier and Citrine wagtail. In autumn, birders have been delighted with Wilson’s Phalarope, Semi-palmated Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope. Rarer winter visitors have included Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, Long-tailed Duck and Black Brant. During the summer of 1995, Black-headed Gull nested on the reserve with two young being reared.

The reserve is also interesting botanically, with Bog Bean, Elecampance and Pink Water Speedwell being present. It is also an excellent dragonfly site with Migrant Hawker regular in the autumn.A Management Team from the CBWPS and CWT meet regularly to monitor the reserve and implement the management programme.

Maer Lake has always been known as The Pool by local people in Bude, and indeed this name seems to have given the settlement of Maer its name. It was first recorded in an Assize Roll of 1284 as la Mere and John Norden shows the pool on his 16th century map and names it The Mere. Mere is an old English word, still commonly used for a pool. It appears to have been an area of wet grazing shared by the farmers of the adjacent tenements in the post medieval period. I have been bird watching at Maer for only thirty five years(!)

Originally, I also regarded the pool as a summer grazing meadow which flooded in Winter, or at times of extreme rainfall. The sluices that we have installed have changed the character of the reserve, greatly benefiting species like Lapwing and Golden Plover which find the security of roosting on the flag iris islands surrounded by water much to their liking. A major concern when doing management work with heavy machinery has been not to change the depth of water in the reserve. The shallow standing water has now over a period of years created a thick rich silt which is ideal for feeding waders, and it is no surprise to find that considerable numbers of wintering Dunlin have found this ample food supply. (Graham Sutton)

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