Watchtree Nature Reserve is home to several wetland habitats. They comprise the ‘Lake’ for surface water storage and ‘The Wetlands’ (a reed bed and lagoons built specifically for water treatment) as well as a number of small ponds and reed beds to form a network of wetland habitats around the reserve.
The former owner created the Pond in Pond Wood some 50 years ago.. All of the water bodies are havens for wildlife, and therefore areas of high biodiversity. The shallow pools are host to a variety of aquatic species, ranging from plants to amphibians such as Common Frog, Toad, Smooth Newt, Palmate Newt and the rare Great Crested Newt and a vast array of invertebrates – dragon and damselflies are in abundance, and there are up to 50 different species of water beetle present! Mammals such as the Otter, attracted by the available frogs and toads, sometimes visit the Reserve. The marginal vegetation on the banks of the ponds provides a refuge from strong winds, as well as a place to hide from predators.
These areas provide perfect sites for nesting and roosting for foraging water birds and ducks. Some birds are regulars here with Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Reed Buntings, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warblers and Mute Swans all a common sight on the reserve. Sometimes, particularly in winter, migratory birds affected by severe weather can appear at the reserve seeking refuge by the lagoons. The endangered and protected Great Crested Newt was found in 2006 and has since established in most of the wetland areas. Wetlands are a vital habitat, not just here at Watchtree but across the world.
Studies show that the area and quality of wetlands is declining. Many wetland sites are under threat from development or from intensive agricultural practices, such as fertilizer run-off from fields.