My first impression of Maer Lake – known as The Pool by local people in Bude – was of silver water rippling in a bracing breeze. The lake, by the Flexbury area of town, was truly dazzling in one patch where it caught the light of the morning sun, and I was glad I had brought my sunglasses, despite it being March. The nearest side of the lake was a pale brown below its sheen of sunlit ripples, as the wind was stirring up fine sediment. The water formed a slightly larger expanse than I had expected, fringed with taller vegetation and low grass.
Even without my binoculars I could see that most of the birds on the lake were gulls, including grey-speckled juveniles, and they were concentrated on the left-hand side as seen from the viewing gate – probably the more sheltered end. Many had their heads tucked under their wings, enjoying a morning nap in good company, while dark little ducks (teal) scooted busily this way and that, heads dipping under the surface in search of breakfast.
The nature reserve was close to human habitation, but very securely fenced off, giving it much-needed peace and tranquillity.