The long awaited Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve at Manor Farm, Old Wolverton is at last nearing completion – at least in terms of its build. The Parks Trust’s contractor has been on site since October 2015 installing the 2.5km of footpaths as well as bridges, boardwalks, fences and three bird hides. Progress has been severely delayed by the extremely wet winter, with no less than four major floods. However, I’m pleased to say that we can now allow people access to the western half of the new nature reserve while the contractor completes work elsewhere on site.
For those members with long memories, Mike Street, former Wildlife Conservation Officer with The Parks Trust, first spoke to the Society about his vision for this site back in 2001. The quarrying operation finally began in 2007 and was completed in 2014. However, even while mineral extraction was still ongoing the worked areas had been colonised by insects and birds and the site soon gained a reputation as one of the best in Buckinghamshire for breeding and passage waders. Lapwing, redshank, ringed and little ringed plovers and oystercatcher have all bred and many rarer waders, wildfowl and passerines occur on passage. The larger islands have seen a healthy population of nesting common terns in the last year or two. As I write, there are still some wintering wigeon, pochard, teal and goosander on site but most of these will soon disappear with the spring weather. A summer evening visit will be rewarded with the site of many bats, including common pipistrelles, Daubenton’s and the impressive Noctules.
Two of the three hides are now open to the public and give excellent views of the landscape and its wildlife (the third hide should be open in April). You will notice that there is little screening between the hides but some reed screening will be installed in the near future. A long term solution will be the planting of a native mixed hedge between the hides which will take place later this year.
There is still a great deal to do with tree planting, reed planting, more fencing and a wildflower meadow to restore over the next twelve months. We plan to introduce grazing animals some time in 2017 and hopefully this will include Konik ponies as well as cattle.
If coming by car, you can park at either Manor Farm Court (click here for a map)Floodplain Forest Open Paths off Wolverton Road or otherwise Haversham Road car park, near to Wolverton Railway Station (click here for a map). The site can also be accessed by walking along the Grand Union Canal from Old Wolverton and descending the steps by the Iron Trunk.
We will have a society walk here on the evening of 9th August 2016 but you may not wish to wait that long before you pay the site a visit. If visiting in the next few weeks, please bear in mind that machinery is still operating on site and look out for the signs and hazard fencing showing which areas are out of bounds. You will still be able to see plenty of wildlife and the whole site will soon be open to explore! There will be plenty of opportunities for Society members to get involved in recording the biodiversity of the site in the months and years ahead.
The Parks Trust have provided this map of the site..
Look out for another update in the very near future.
Visit the members’ gallery for larger versions of the pictures.
Pictures from top to bottom:
Entrance sign by Peter Hassett
Number 1 hide by Peter Hassett
General view by Peter Garner
Number 2 hide by Peter Hassett
Redshank by Peter Garner
Redshank by Peter Garner
Little Egret by Peter Garner
Lapwing by Peter Garner
Grey Heron by Peter Garner
Reed Bunting by Peter Garner
Green Sandpipers by Peter Garner