A small but very dedicated team of wood wardens recently spent a Thursday morning at Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve clearing watercress from the lagoon. This allows the clean water from the underground spring to run freely in order to maintain its special character.
Barry Trevis, the Reserve's long-standing Honorary Warden, said: " For the past four years we have been delighted to receive help from the Sherrrardspark Wood Wardens. They temporarily stray from their woodland management activities and put a group of volunteers together, don their wellie boots and help us with our practical wetland habitat work during the busy autumn period. This is when much of the summer's vegetation growth needs to be raked from the spring-fed lagoons to increase the flow of water, wash away silt build-up and create open areas for wading birds to feed in. Last week the group enthusiastically spent a morning raking large amounts of watercress and reed cuttings at the south end of the Reserve. Thanks to their efforts such species as Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper, Water Rail, Grey Wagtail and Little Egret have already been seen feeding in that area".
What is now Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve used to be a watercress farm and market garden. From 1860 to 1966 watercress was harvested all year round and sold at CoventGarden in London and at local markets. Watercress still grows in the shallow lagoon today. Fish, snails and shrimps thriving in the spring-fed lagoon provide a bountiful foodsupply for birds. The variety of habitats, such as lagoons, marsh, the surrounding willow woodland, hedgerow and meadow, offer an exciting opportunity for bird watching from the two hides on site.
Lemsford Springs, one of a few remaining wetlands in Hertfordshire, relies on volunteers to preserve its valuable habitat and beauty.
For more information please visit Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust website on www.hertswildlifetrust.org.uk