Maple Lodge Marsh-Pond Works
As part of our Landscape Partnership Scheme, with funding kindly provided by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, we have made some important improvements to Maple Lodge Marsh near Maple Cross. The site is owned by Thames Water, who have been very supportive throughout this project, and is a private site mainly used for educational activities and school groups. In order to improve the habitat for a variety of species, but bats in particular, a series of 13 ponds have been dug on the site. These are mainly aimed at supporting Nathusius’ pipistrelle, a rare species of bat that is known to live in this area. The ponds provide an excellent habitat for these bats as they use them to hunt for insects. Trees have been removed to allow for a clear flight path around the site, as well as acting as a new footpath for visiting humans as well.
Matt Dodds, Planning and Biodiversity Manager for HMWT said this: ‘‘As part of our Wetland Vision for Bats project, HMWT has been looking for suitable sites in the area to create good bat habitat, primarily for Nathusius’ pipistrelle but also for other bat species. The Maple Lodge Marsh site was perfect because it was situated in an area of high Nathusius’ activity and could be modified to create optimum conditions for foraging and mating. Clearing sheltered glades, creating ponds and erecting bat boxes will create perfect conditions for a ‘Nathusius’ nightclub’ where bats will come to forage and mate. The boxes and glades will facilitate catching, ringing, and radio tagging so that we can monitor the population much more accurately than is currently possible and increase our knowledge about this enigmatic species, which migrates here from eastern Europe. Our knowledge of Nathusius’ behaviour is very limited and we hope this project will help to fill in some of the gaps.’
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust have also erected a number of bat boxes on the site to provide roosting opportunities for local bats as well as enabling handling and monitoring of them. We are hoping that the ponds not only benefit bats, but other wildlife as well. Insect numbers will surely rise thanks to the log piles created from the cut trees, along with the birds that feed on them. It is hoped that the ponds will also benefit amphibians like frogs, toads and newts and possibly even provide habitat for water loving grass snakes. Surveys will be carried out over the next couple of years to see what exactly is living in this new and improved site.
Watching bats in the Colne Valley
As the weather warms up, bats are starting to become more active. Check following page were we tell you more about this fascinating group of mammals and how you can watch them from the comfort of your own home. Find out more here.
Maple Lodge Ponds Before and After Photo