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About the Reserve

The Reserve

Maple Lodge Nature Reserve comprises 40 acres of mixed habitat based around disused gravel workings.

There are two lakes, Clubhouse Lake and Marsh Lake, with varying cover for breeding wildfowl including Gadwall, Pochard, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck.

The Plantation area has been planted with native trees such as oak, alder and ash.  During the winter months the alder cones attract mixed flocks of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.  The mature trees and hedges provide nest sites for many common birds.

The Paddock is carefully managed and is only cut twice a year.  In the summer it's wild flowers are a haven for butterflies, dragonflies and many other insects.  Warblers can also be heard singing from the trees and hedges.

The Wild Flower Meadow is a good place to spot Marbled Whites and other butterflies such as Brown Argus and Small Copper.  It also contains a Barn Owl box from which young have successfully fledged.

The Long Hedge contains an interesting mixture of trees and shrubs, most of which have flowers to attract insects, followed by berries for birds and small mammals.

There are several hides, some with wheelchair access, so that members and visitors can observe the wildlife without disturbance.  There are also seats and benches sited around the reserve so that members and visitors can pause and enjoy the peace and quiet.

History

The reserve is basically a man-made wetland habitat consisting of two old gravel pits and a sludge settlement area formerly used by the nearby sewage treatment works.  Some refuse dumping also occurred on part of the site and, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, an area in the east of the reserve was planted with poplars.

From the early 1970s the site was largely undisturbed and developed naturally into mainly woodland and rank herb rich grassland.  The larger of the two lakes, being quite shallow, began to dry out and was rapidly colonised by herbaceous growth.  This resulted in an overall decline in bird diversity at the site, in particular a decline in wading birds.

From 1972, the site which lies in the valley of the River Colne, was used as a bird ringing station.  An average of 1500 birds from 50 species were ringed annually.  In 1980 work began, with the assistance of local volunteers and the British Trust for Conservation, to realise the considerable potential of the site as a nature reserve.

In 1982 the Maple Lodge Conservation Society was formed and in 1983 it was granted a licence by Thames Water (the owners of the land) to manage the site on a day to day basis.  In managing the site the aims were to preserve a diverse habitat and to create and maintain an enhanced open water and mud habitat.

In 2013 Maple Lodge Conservation Society applied for and gained charitable status.

In March 2015 the Society signed a new 25-year lease with Thames Water giving it responsibility for the continued management of the reserve.

 

Reserve Map

On-site Facilities

Access to the reserve is via the Clubhouse.

The Clubhouse has a toilet with disabled access, a small refrigerator, a microwave and tea and coffee making facilities.  There is also a range of wildlife reference books for use by members and visitors.

Car parking is available in the Chiltern Sports & Social Club car park and there is disabled parking alongside the entrance to the reserve.