Venus Pool and Covid-19
We were delighted to announce the reopening of the hides at Venus Pool on Monday, July 19th. However, in welcoming you back, we ask that you respect the concerns, and maintain the safety, of your fellow visitors and, to this end, procedures have been put in place regarding the use of the hides. To this end, please:
- bring hand sanitiser with you and use it regularly, particularly after entering and exiting each hide;
- keep all the hide windows open at all times;
- wear a face mask when in the hides (we appreciate that this may be difficult when using optical equipment but, if you are able to do so, please wear one);
- maintain a social distance when in the hides and, if a hide is full, come back at at another time; and
- do not stay too long in one hide, particularly at busy times – let others have an opportunity to see what is about.
Membership Cards & Hide Codes
Please carry your membership card with you at all times when you are on the reserve: if using a members-only hide, you may be asked to produce it. The code that will open the members-only hides is printed on your card and should not be shared with non-members.
Venus Pool Volunteer Wardens
Please be advised that the SOS Management Committee has appointed several Volunteer Wardens for VP. Their role will be to act as a point of contact for visitors who may not be familiar with the reserve, ensuring they know where they can and cannot go, to assist and inform visitors about the reserve, to provide advice in cases of medical emergency or incident, and to note and report to the Reserve Manager potential hazards on the site. Our Wardens will engage with visitors not complying with reserve rules and will be a source of information in bringing SOS endeavours to the attention of visitors. They will also maintain the feeding stations and monitor usage of members-only hides. Our Volunteer Wardens will carry a card indicating their status and we ask that all visitors, whether members or not, comply with their requests but also feel free to ask about the reserve, its birdlife, and the Society.
A Brief Introduction to the Reserve
Venus Pool Nature Reserve, usually known as “VP”, is 10 km (6 mi) south-east of Shrewsbury and covers almost 27 ha (66 acres). In addition to the pool itself, with its islands and areas of open shoreline, other habitats include stands of willow scrub, extensive marginal vegetation, flower-rich grassland, hedgerows and woodland. An arable field to the south of the pool is planted with bird-friendly crops.
Originally a natural wet hollow that had been drained, the pool reformed in the 1950s when a culvert collapsed: this was when the site first came to the attention of local birdwatchers. Although the land to the east was subsequently quarried for its sand and gravel deposits, a bund was created to protect VP from being drained and waste water from the gravel-washing plant was pumped into the pool. Once the quarry ceased to operate, the main workings were re‑profiled to form the present day fishing pool to the south-east and VP was allowed to develop naturally.
The site was acquired by the SOS in 1986 and work commenced to improve the habitat for birds, particularly waterfowl and waders. Originally, two brick hides were built to allow members of the SOS to watch birds in reasonable comfort and the number of visitors began to increase.
Further enhancement works were undertaken in 1996 when, with the assistance of the Environment Agency, further re-profiling was undertaken and the large main hide with wheelchair access was provided.
In 1999, a successful application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for support to purchase the surrounding fields, provide a proper car park and carry our further improvements.
Two additional hides were made available, the Fen Hide and Lena’s Hide. The latter was erected to overlook a group of feeders within the area of willow scrub and has proved to be an excellent viewing point to see birds, including Great Spotted Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk, as well as tits, finches, Nuthatches and other “garden birds”. This hide was purchased with funds from the legacy of of Mrs Lena Dunkley, an active member of the Society, as part of the overall HLF project.
The purchase of the additional land enabled the creation of species-rich hay meadows and marshy grassland. The meadows are managed by taking a hay-cut in the late summer, followed by grazing in the autumn.
The southern field was purchased in 2003, again with the help of HLF. The small south-facing slope at the southern end was turned into species-rich grassland, but the bulk of the field is planted with wild bird crops, surrounded by flower-rich margins attractive to insects.
Subsequently, the small original brick-built hides have been replaced by large, wheelchair‑accessible wooden hides to cater for the many thousand visitors who enjoy VP in any one year. To help manage this number of visitors, the North and Memorial Hides are restricted to members of the Society.
The reserve is managed under the terms of the Countryside Stewardship scheme.
How to get to Venus Pool
Venus Pool is just south of the A458 Shrewsbury to Much Wenlock road between Cross Houses and Cressage at NGR SJ548062. The location of the car park (orange arrow) is shown on this map. When travelling south-east, after passing through Cross Houses, take the second right, an unclassified road to Upper Cound. Venus Pool is then on the left of the road as you travel south. You will find the entrance gate as you go up the hill towards Venus Bank. The gate is usually open throughout the day but will be locked after nightfall. A car park will be found just inside the gate – please leave your car here and walk down the path to the hides. There is access for disabled members to a small car park close to the public hide. There are no toilet facilities on the site.
A map of the Venus Pool Site may be downloaded here. Note that this document is in pdf format and requires Adobe Acrobat DC (or equivalent) to open it. If you do not have this software, it is available free of charge here. Be aware that this site may attempt to download two additional pieces of software when you request Acrobat. While these are safe, if you do not want them, just de-select the tick-boxes under “Optional offers”.
Policy on Dogs at Venus Pool
We are occasionally asked why we do not allow dogs at Venus Pool. Evidence is now available that shows that the presence of dogs can reduce the number of birds present by around 40% compared to the effect of walkers alone, which reduced numbers by less than 20% (that is without the use of hides). Birds see dogs as potential predators and leave the area – not a habit we want to encourage at Venus Pool. The news item can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6978272.stm