Helping wildlife at Upton Warren

Helping wildlife at Upton Warren

Water rail by Stephen Baird-Parker

Green sandpiper, water rail, snipe, banded demoiselle and, hopefully, water vole will all benefit from work about to start at a popular nature reserve.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is undertaking work to restore the Hen Brook that runs through its Christopher Cadbury Wetland Reserve at Upton Warren near Wychbold. There are three parts to the work – restoring the Hen Brook, dredging the Hen Pool and creating a new shallow scrape nearby.

Over time, the Hen Brook has become ‘canalised’ – made straight and deep. The new work will restore one or two gentle meanders into the brook that, together with shelved edges and restored backwaters, will be suitable for marginal plants like water mint and pink water-speedwell to colonise. In turn, these will help provide hiding places for young fish and insects like dragonfly nymphs.

Green sandpiper wading through shallow water by Pete Walkden

Green sandpiper by Pete Walkden

The Hen Pool has become silted up and dominated by common reeds, reducing the margins that the birds are able to feed within. Truxors, an unusual hybrid of boat and digger, will be used to open up the edges and remove some of the silt. Reeds will still fringe the pool, providing a good edge habitat for birds like reed and sedge warblers. Wildlife both here and along the Hen Brook will be much more visible to wildlife-lovers using one of the Trust’s birdwatching hides.

The final work will be to create a shallow scrape and swampy area to provide extra feeding areas for wetland birds. This area will not be visible to the public but will provide a hidden paradise for shy birds like green sandpiper, water rail and snipe.

Eleanor Reast, the Trust’s officer responsible for Upton Warren, explained “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to undertake improvements to help wildlife at this wonderful nature reserve. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time and it’s thanks to funding from Severn Trent that we’re finally able to get going with this.

“The work will be taking place in front of the Hen Brook birdwatching hide and along that stretch of brook; we think it will be a great thing for visitors to spend a few minutes watching, especially the Truxors.

“The work will look a little drastic as we start but it won’t take long before it starts to settle down and the wildlife will begin to make the most of it."

Ultimately it would be great to think that as well as benefitting the birdlife here, we’ll also attract water vole. We know that they’re upstream in Bromsgrove and they were historically found along the Hen Brook at Upton Warren; by providing the right kind of place for them to live, we hope to tempt them back.
Eleanor Reast
Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
Banded demoiselle by Philip Moore

Banded demoiselle by Philip Moore

The work is only possible thanks to funding from Severn Trent’s Boost for Biodiversity scheme, which aims to improve water quality and, in turn, benefit both wildlife and bill-payers.

Zara Turtle, Catchment Partnership Coordinator for Severn Trent, commented "The aim of Boost for Biodiversity is to encourage the development of partnerships to deliver multi-benefit projects across our region. The variety of projects submitted was fantastic and I’m really looking forward to seeing this come to life!"

Work begins on Monday 16th September in order to avoid both the bird breeding season as well as the arrival of birds that use the nature reserve during winter. It is expected that work will take two weeks and there will be minimal disruption to visitors as the area is relatively isolated from the rest of the birdwatching hides.