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13 May 20

Affinity Water working in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust provides a fantastic new habitat for rare birds and insects

  • Collaboration will help the rare black-necked grebe to breed
  • Rare dragonflies and damselflies, hoverflies, water beetles and bats will thrive better

Affinity Water has been working in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to carry out environmental improvements to Hilfield Park Reservoir near Bushey.

The site is known to be among the best sites in Hertfordshire for dragonflies and damselflies with 20 species regularly recorded and it is hoped that these environmental improvements will also help the rare black-necked grebes to thrive and to breed too. Hilfield Park Reservoir is known to be the only site black-necked grebes breed in throughout Southern England.

In addition to improvements to the reservoir three nearby large ponds have now been created, which will be a key feature of the new wetland. The reservoir and ponds will provide a place for freshwater insects to breed and shelter, rare dragonflies including the lesser emperor and damselflies. Also, for hoverflies, water beetles and bats. These improvements will provide a refuge for insects at the driest times of the year.

Josh Kalms, the Trust’s People and Wildlife Officer said: “This is the single largest habitat enhancement operation delivered at Hilfield reservoir. We have been working with local biodiversity experts to both create these beautiful sites for wildlife and to monitor the tangible benefits of this work.

“As well as this half-acre wetland area to the south east of the reserve, a new shallow, sheltered lagoon will become a fantastic breeding site for many different species including dragonflies and damselflies. Adult dragonflies will benefit from the dead wood that was deposited in the water from the tree works. Above water it will provide perches on which adults can bask in the sun, while the submerged woody debris creates a perfect place for many species to lay eggs. We wanted to create lots of variation in the habitats to suit the needs of as great a range of species as possible.”

Kevin Barton, Head of External Communication for Affinity Water said: “Our environmental partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has been a win-win for us and for wildlife. The ongoing monitoring work will allow us to see if more of the rare black-necked grebes have been able to breed successfully. We’ve all got our fingers crossed. The reservoir and three large ponds will enable rare dragonflies and damselflies, and also for hoverflies, water beetles and bats to thrive more. We know that our customers support environmental improvements such as these because they have told us that’s what they want us to do. Affinity Water wants to protect the environment and help nature to thrive in all its various forms.”

  • The work involved: Using a 14-tonne excavator and dumper truck to create the new habitat
  • Excavating 110 metres of ditch, running parallel with the edge of the reservoir
  • Filling the ditch with water so it acts as a deterrent to terrestrial predators attempting to enter the reedbed to look for food. It will offer protection to the rare breeding birds, including the black-necked grebes, when they are raising chicks nearby.

NB: Our photograph shows the rare black-necked grebe. Credit: Luke Massey/2020VISION

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