Ed Hutchings' Herts reserve of the month
PUBLISHED: 09:03 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 09 January 2017
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The four Tring reservoirs of Startops End, Marsworth, Tringford and Wilstone are surrounded by woodland, scrub and meadows. Two of them have extensive reed beds. Their purpose was to feed the Grand Union Canal and together they are now a 263-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest.
A water treatment works lagoon has islands and a dragonfly scrape, encompassed by hedgerows and scrub. In spring and summer, breeding water birds, common terns and a heronry are evident, with regular sightings of red kite, hobby, black tern and warblers including Cetti’s. Osprey and marsh harrier are occasionally seen.
Autumn and winter passage brings waders and the odd white-winged black tern. Winter sees large wildfowl flocks, a gull roost, bunting roosts and bittern.
Other notable flora and fauna include black poplar trees and locally-rare plants in damp areas. Eighteen species of dragonfly have been recorded at the scrape, including black-tailed skimmer, ruddy darter and emerald damselfly (left). Butterflies seen include holly blue and speckled wood, while mammals observed include Chinese water deer and bats such as Daubenton’s, Natterer’s and both pipistrelles.