A Brief Introduction to the Reserve
Venus Pool (usually known as “VP” to local birders) 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.
The pool was originally a natural wet hollow that had been drained. When a culvert collapsed in the 1950s, the pool reformed and the site became well-known to local birdwatchers. When the land to the east was quarried for its sand and gravel deposits, a bund was created to protect VP from being drained and waste water was pumped from the gravel-washing plant into the pool. When the quarry ceased to operate, the main workings were re-profiled to form the present day fishing pool to the south-east and Venus Pool gradually returned to a more natural condition.
The site was acquired by the SOS in 1986 and work commenced to improve the habitat for wildfowl and wading birds. 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 some of the smaller 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 additional land enabled the creation of some species-rich hay meadows and marshy grassland.
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.
The reserve is managed under the terms of the Higher Level 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 trough 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 will 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