It lies on a relatively thin layer of non-glacial terrace sands and gravels deposited on London clay, and hence the lakes are shallow and likely to dry out in summer.
Extraction has left some low-nutrient areas with an interesting flora, including common spotted orchid, bee orchid and southern marsh orchid, heath speedwell, blue fleabane and wild strawberry. More than 200 species of plant have been recorded, among them round-leaved wintergreen, golden dock, lesser reedmace and wild service tree. There are 11 types of willow, notably almond willow, purple willow (an introduced species), and naturalised cricket-bat willow.
Over 120 species of bird have been recorded, and more than 40 of these have bred at some time, including great crested and little grebes, kingfisher and water rail. Ruddy duck can be numerous when the water level is high. Conversely greenshank and other waders increase when the shallow-water margins are wider. Sedge and reed warblers can be seen or heard in spring and summer, together with common whitethroat, reed bunting and willow warbler.
Grass snakes have been seen in large numbers, and common lizards appreciate the rough grassland areas.
There is a variety of insects including good numbers of common blue, small copper and ringlet butterflies and many dragonflies.
Cutting grassland on rotation, with cuttings used to form habitat piles or to make compost. Controlling scrub and removing large willows to let light into the reed bed, and pollarding large willows elsewhere. Cutting and removing grass and scrub annually in a low-nutrient area to maintain an open 'artificial heath' aspect. Clearing steep waterside banks regularly to improve kingfisher nesting habitat. Keeping paths open in summer (very laborious because this was once arable farmland and is very fertile).We plan to remove a layer of topsoil in the north-west of the reserve to create an area of low-nutrient acid grassland.
email a friend
Maldon, Essex, CM9 4RB
Map reference: TL 879085 Lat: 51.74369 Long: 0.72031