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Wildlife around the Waterworks

Four acres of downland were enclosed for the construction of the Waterworks in 1898 but the buildings required less than half of the land. Some of the additional space was used to quarry chalk for making lime, some was used to dump waste but about two acres were left, being neither cultivated nor grazed. As a result the Trust has unusual and valuable parcels of land including scrub, tall grassland and chalk meadow that it is, like the wonderful engineering of the works, important to preserve.

The essential base of the wildlife element is the diverse collection of native plants, over 200 species in all, that provide the habitat for butterflies, bumblebees, dragonflies, moles, rabbits, badgers, songbirds, hawks and many other species.

The first concern of the Trust is to preserve this inheritance so that it will continue to be a refuge for creatures that cannot survive in the monoculture of farming practice all around. We undertake some management of the land so that the chalk grassland plant species thrive and particular plants such as nettles, hemp agrimony and ragwort do not become dominant, and we have made a pond so that a wider selection of species will use the site, but our best activity is inactivity.

We also wish to share the interest and pleasure of observing the plants and creatures with our visitors on Open Days and so we have created a nature trail around the protected area. This pathway has quite a few steps and steep places but is very popular, especially with young visitors - who sometimes seem to have more knowledge about wildlife than their parents!

There are display boards and leaflets about the wildlife at various places. Of course many animals make themselves scarce when people are close by, but on sunny days visitors can see a fine display of several different species of butterflies, bumble bees and other insects on the wing over the flower-rich grasses, whilst dragonflies patrol the pond.

Want to follow the Wildlife Trail? Here's the guide for our June 2024 Open Day:

Click Here for more pictures of our wildlife area

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