Imagine 65 hectares of marshes and ponds as far as the eye can see. To give you an idea, this is roughly the equivalent of 65 large football fields! And you don’t need to go to Camargue or a Nordic country to enjoy these landscapes. No, this bucolic place is located to the east of the village of Tertre in the heart of the Marionville nature reserve.
 
The history of the Marionville nature reserve is something along the lines of “whoever leaves their place loses it!” These marshes and ponds have not always been so peaceful. Until a few decades ago, they practically didn’t exist in a manner of speaking. The site was formerly traversed by the Haine. This river, which is today canalised, once snaked into the wet grasslands and played hide and seek with pollared willows until man intervened...

Human hands

The use of coal would change both the course of history but also the landscape of the region, forever. Shortly after World War II, the land began to subside to make way for a vast body of water amidst the grasslands. Barely useable, these were gradually abandoned by farmers. However, nature doesn’t like emptiness. And these new marshy areas very quickly attracted wild flora and fauna. In 1978, the Marionville nature reserve, which extends over the communes of Saint-Ghislain and Quaregnon, was born.

Nature trails

What can you see today? All the best of what nature has to offer! A walking trail (3km in total) was built on a former railway line. It led to two observatories located at the edge of the waterway. On either side of the path, willow bushes and hawthorn are home to a happy colony of birds: warblers, tits, robins and other nightingales. They’re not always easy to see for novices, but these small birds still wow you with their characteristic song. It’s a real open-air concert!

 
Observing nature

Once you’ve got to the observatories, open wide your eyes and ears. The wildlife taking refuge in the reserve is just waiting to impress. But beware: charming as they are, these creatures are shy so discretion is required to get a glance.  The grey gull, common shelduck and bluethroat are some of the incredible nesting birds on this site. Thanks to the diverse environments that make up the reserve, each species has happily settled in. The reed-warbler and bluethroat appreciate the comfort of the reed beds while on the northern side occupied by small bodies of water, ducks play opposite amphibians and all manner of insects. It’s also in this part that you’ll fin bladderwort, a very rare carnivorous aquatic plant! Beware: it can swallow its prey in less than a thousandth of a second... 

Good to know: there’s a parking area in Tertre along rue Olivier Lhoir, between rue des Marionville and the level crossing. Free access. Guided tours possible with the Natagora association: www.natagora.be