Oldbury Power Station

OPSBirds

Introduction

The power station is owned by Magnox and is in the process of being de-commissioned.

The site consists of a variety of habitats, and this is its attraction. The site is on the banks of the River Severn, with its enormous mudflats. Three old lagoons are in various states of disuse. These lagoons were large settling tanks, used during the dredging process for the tidal reservoir. The fine Severn silt is settled from the water, before it is discharged back to the river. The mud has to be removed, as the licence to operate the power station only allows water to be discharged into the Severn, and no solids. There is also a Nature Trail, with orchard, meadows, woods and ponds.

The power station entrance.

Access

General access is via public footpaths, which surround the power station. The main route is the Severn Way, which runs along the coast of the River Severn. Follow signs to large visitor's car park (on right just past entrance).

Historically, access to the lagoons was gained by writing requesting this. And when visiting, permission to visit the lagoons, Nature trail and hide was requested at the Gate House. However, since the site has started to be de-commissioned, public access seems to be allowed to the Lagoons without prior permission.

Description of Site

Lagoon 1 - This is the oldest settling tank, and is now little more than a cow field, which floods in winter. However, the floods do attract ducks, waders and gulls at high tide. They consist mainly of Lapwing, Curlew and Dunlin. The numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Shelduck depend on the level of water in the lagoon. Also Herons and Little Egret roost. The birds are very susceptible to disturbance when it contains some water (in winter). It can be viewed very well from viewing points - see Map of OPS. For instance, with caution it is possible to view the lagoon from next to the outflow pipe platform near the Severn, which is now overgrown. Attracts yellow wagtail, stonechats and wheatears on passage. Buzzards are usually circling overhead.

Lagoon 2 - This is also a disused settling tank. It is currently home to a scrubby habitat, with a small reedbed at its southern end. Reed Warblers, Reed Bunting and Whitethroat breed. Water Rail are present in winter when water remains in the reeds. Stonechat over-winter. Whinchat can be seen on passage. Also, the surrounding hedges are attractive to passage warblers. Grasshopper Warblers have been present some years in the low scrub on the lagoon. Kestrels have bred, and hunt the grasslands. A wildlife pond just to the west of the lagoon is good for dragonflies. Migrant Clouded-Yellow butterflies can be seen around the lagoon or along the shore in autumn.

Lagoon 2 from southern end (Jan 2004).

Lagoon 3 - This is the settling tank which ceased to be used in 2016 (having been created in 1994). The hide situated on the southern bank (accessed by following signs from the road at the entrance to the site) is now pretty much redundant. The main High Tide roost of waders and gulls used to be here, but there is now too much vegetation. Linnets, Chaffinch, Stock Dove and Reed Bunting flock here in winter. The main reedbed is at the West end, and is extending to the rest of the Lagoon. But scrub is now starting to develop. The pylons around the site and blue reactor towers are always worth checking - for Peregrines, other raptors and Ravens (increasingly common).

Lagoon 3 from hide (Feb 2004).

The lake behind the hide usually has Tufted Duck (with accompanying Ring-Necked Duck in 2003), Moorhen and Coot; plus Mute Swans and Canada Geese have bred.

Lake as seen from the hide (showing one of the pylons favoured by Peregrine). (Feb 2004)

River Severn - Running along the North side of the site is the River Severn. At this point the river is tidal, and about a mile wide. At Low Tide, vast mud flats are exposed, which attract hundreds of Curlew (which prefer to roost west of the power station site, by Oldbury yacht club) and huge numbers of gulls. Whimbrel join the Curlew on passage. Redshank patrol the banks. Small numbers of Dunlin stick to the waters edge, and can be joined by other small waders on passage (e.g. Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint). The area just north of the site (towards what used to be the Windbound Inn, Shepperdine) is good for waders and duck (hundreds of Teal and Wigeon). A large tidal reservoir encloses the near bank of the river, built to give access to water at low tide. This can hold storm-blown and passage birds - anything can turn up ! Manx Shearwater, Common Scoter, Little Terns and a Sabine’s Gull have all been seen here. The rocky and seaweed covered walls of the reservoir hold about 50 Turnstone in winter, which roost on the green buoy in the river at Shepperdine. The River is a 'highway' for passage birds; waders, gulls, terns and the odd skua. Sea-watching can be good (with patience !) starting at least 3 hours before High Tide. Especially with a wind from the NE in Spring, or SW in Autumn.

River Severn mudflats and tidal reservoir (Jan 2004).

Nature Trail - The orchard, next to the car park, holds Fieldfares and Redwings in winter. The meadows are favoured by Green Woodpeckers, which have bred on-site. There are usually Bullfinches and tit flocks in the hedges, and increasingly Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Treecreepers as the woodlands mature around the site.

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Copyright.
Last revised: 10 October 2018.