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.

Contact the Maer Lake Warden HERE

The reserve is internationally acknowledged as an important resting and feeding site for migrating birds. Spring highlights have included Spoonbill, Temminck’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.

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.

At the annual Management Meeting held on March 14th 2005, we discussed a wide variety of topics. The Environment Agency has proposed a major flood prevention scheme for the Flexbury area of Bude, this will involve a new floodbank being constructed at the rear of the houses bordering the reserve. The Society and Cornwall Wildlife Trust have been fully consulted at every stage of the development of designing this scheme, and at the time of writing we feel confident we can come to an amicable agreement to cause the minimum of disturbance and physical damage to the Reserve. Depending on finance being available we would expect this scheme to proceed in either the summer of 2006 or 2007.

We purchased Maer in 1992 and the following year we cut two major channels through the Flag Iris to assist viewing, over the ensuing years these have started to grow in and narrow. We now need to deal with this problem and get an excavator on to the site this summer (weather permitting), and we have agreed a budget with CWT to deal with this. CWT have also kindly agreed to replace a twenty metre stretch of fencing which is in poor condition on the road boundary. The Society is extremely grateful to Callum Deveney the Reserves Officer and his staff for this contribution. Also to Tim Dingle and Anne Barks and all at the Tamar Branch of CWT who have been such stalwarts in supporting the Reseve, from paying for management work to supplying machinery. My thanks also go to Society members Rex Braund and Brian Craven for their much appreciated help and advice.

The Reserve goes from strength to strength. Golden Plover numbers exceeded 4000 at one stage this past winter, and at least eight Jack Snipe were present at the same time. These were both record counts for Maer. On the morning of February 22nd 2005 a Bittern was booming at 06:30 and then seen feeding in a ditch later in the day. Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum emerged at the Reserve last summer in considerable numbers. It is hard to imagine during a cold and icy spell, that beneath the ice, that complex life cycle is functioning and waiting to burst into magnificent flight in the coming summer.

From Bude Town Centre, cross the golf course using Crooklets Road, near the tennis courts turn right and travel a short distance north again across the golf course. Cross Downs View Road and turn right at the Maer Lodge Hotel. After a short distance, the reserve is on the right side of the private road. Viewing is strictly only from the private road above the reserve. Due to extremely limited parking, park in the nearby public road and walk the short distance to the road overlooking the reserve.  No hide exists at the present time.