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Status: Essex Wildlife Trust reserve
Summary: One of a number of worked-out mineral extraction sites on terrace sands to the north of the River Blackwater.
Description: The reserve is divided into 2 main sections; the western section, extracted in the 60's, was not required to be restored whereas the eastern section, extracted in the 70's, was. This has resulted in an interesting variation in topography through the reserve with consequential differences in habitat and species. The main habitats are; open water, smaller ponds, marsh, willow carr, grazed grassland and hawthorn/blackthorn scrub.
Reason for interest: Being close to the River Blackwater the reserve provides an alternative sheltered habitat for birds when conditions on the estuary are less favourable. A Colchester Natural History Society survey identified 11 species/subspecies/varities of willow, including Purple Willow (Salix purpurea), Cricket-bat Willow (Salix alba v caerulea) and Almond willow (Salix triandra). The Cricket-bat Willow was obviously introduced but it is not known if any of the others were. Since the western section has remained unrestored there is the possibility that the site may have possibilities for geological interpretation and has been listed as a Maldon District Local Geological Site (LoGS).
Comment: Apart from being linked to the Blackwater by a worked-out extraction-site and fishing lakes to the south, the reserve does not fit particularly well in the current concept of Living Landscapes since it is otherwise surrounded by arable farmland. The reserve also suffers from inappropriate species introduction by the previous owners; a native look-alike form of Alder. Although having all the characters of the native species, this particular variety is very invasive and some effort has to be made to keep it under control.
Routes of rivers during the last glacial stage
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