Life on the reserves

The trust is supporting a population of otters at Amwell

The trust is supporting a population of otters at Amwell - Credit: Archant

Maintaining havens for wildlife is a key role of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Sarah Buckingham gives an overview of recent work on its nature reserves

Hexton Chalk Pit. Photo Paul Thrush

Hexton Chalk Pit. Photo Paul Thrush - Credit: Archant

The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust cares for more than 40 nature reserves covering nearly 2,000 acres, including some of the most important wildlife habitats in the two counties. Our reserves team work day in, day out with the help of dedicated volunteers to make sure our local wildlife can thrive. Here’s a round-up of what we’ve been up to lately.

Chalkhill blue at Hexton Chalk Pit

Chalkhill blue at Hexton Chalk Pit - Credit: Archant

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Shetland sheep grazing. Photo Jenny Sherwen

Shetland sheep grazing. Photo Jenny Sherwen - Credit: Archant

Amwell, Ware.

Koniks at Rye Meads

Koniks at Rye Meads - Credit: Archant

There has been a great deal of activity at Amwell recently, largely in support of our otter project. Designed to improve habitats for otters and other species, it has involved restoring ditches, improving lakeside vegetation and creating fish refuges. Our reserves team and volunteers have also been hard at work maintaining the quality of the reed beds and removing invasive species. There is always more to do at this important site and we are working hard to secure funding for future management.

Kidney vetch at Albdbury Nowers. Photo Paul Thrush

Kidney vetch at Albdbury Nowers. Photo Paul Thrush - Credit: Archant

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Aldbury Nowers near Tring.

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This wonderful site for wildflowers and butterflies requires a lot of ongoing management to maintain it in good condition. Through a combination of grazing, cutting and raking, we can ensure this rare chalk grassland is maintained and enhanced, encouraging a fantastic number of butterflies to return year after year.

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Hexton Chalk Pit, Hexton.

Another important chalk grassland, this site requires grazing in order to be managed properly. Until now we have been able only to cut the grassland, but we have now installed a new fence, gates and kissing gates, which means we will be able to get sheep on to the site and still allow public access. Being able to graze this grassland will greatly improve its condition.

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Uxbridge Alderglade.

This is a small but important site with river and woodland habitats. We have undertaken work to ensure the river vegetation is in good condition, have improved safety by carefully reducing the height of some over-mature willows, and will be making further access improvements throughout the spring.

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Patmore Heath, Little Hadham.

This rare heathland has benefited from the removal of invasive trees over the winter. We have also carried out pond restoration and the site is really starting to improve in condition.

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Balls Wood, Hertford Heath.

Habitat restoration work on this important woodland site continued over the winter months, with tree thinning, pollarding of boundary trees and pond restoration all being carried out.

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Purwell Ninesprings, Hitchin.

We continue with our ongoing work on this wetland site, which is important for water voles. We are restoring the meadows, maintaining the condition of the reedbeds and have also carried out hedgerow restoration to enhance further the range of habitats here.

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