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Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust facts for kids

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Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
The Wildlife Trusts badger logo
signage and a wooden gate in woodland
The entrance to Hexton Chalk Pit, near Hitchin
Formation October 9, 1964; 58 years ago (1964-10-09)
Type Conservation charity
Registration no. Registered charity 239863
Headquarters St Albans, Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire, parts of North London
Chief Executive
Lesley Davies
Main organ
Local Wildlife Sites Newsletter
Parent organization
The Wildlife Trusts
Formerly called
Hertfordshire & Middlesex Trust for Nature Conservation

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust manages over 40 nature reserves covering nearly 810 hectares (2,000 acres) north of London, in Hertfordshire and the historic county of Middlesex, part of which is divided between the London boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Harrow and Hillingdon. It has over 21,000 members, and is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts across the UK. It is a Registered Charity, with its Registered Office in St Albans, and had an income in the year to 31 March 2014 of over £1.5 million.

The trust's activities include managing nature reserves, advising landowners on how to manage their land for wildlife, commenting on planning applications, advising planning authorities and campaigning to protect wildlife. The trust also encourages people to be active volunteers helping to maintain nature reserves.

The first preparatory meeting of what was to become the trust was held on 16 November 1963, and the Hertfordshire & Middlesex Trust for Nature Conservation was incorporated on 9 October 1964. By 1970 it had twenty reserves and in the same year it took over management of its first Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Blagrove Common. In 1987 it changed its name to the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. In 2007 it purchased Amwell Quarry, and started restoration which has now made the site internationally important for its wetland birds.

Two of the trust's nature reserves are Ramsar sites, internationally important wetland reserves; fifteen are SSSIs, and five are Local Nature Reserves. The first site was Fox Covert, donated by Mr Fordham of Letchworth on the trust's foundation in 1964. The largest is King's Meads, at 96 hectares (240 acres); this is water meadows where 265 wildflower species have been recorded, and it is an important site for over-wintering stonechats. The smallest is Alpine Meadow at 0.8 hectares, which has been designated an SSSI as an example of unimproved chalk grassland.

Nature reserves


Site Photograph Area Location Public access Designations Description
Aldbury Nowers Aldbury Nowers 19.7 ha (49 acres) Tring
51°48′45″N 0°37′11″W / 51.8125°N 0.6197°W / 51.8125; -0.6197 (Aldbury Nowers)
YES SSSI According to Natural England this site "contains one of the best remaining areas of chalk downland in the county as well as one of the finest examples of ancient 'beech hanger' woodland".
Alpine Meadow Alpine Meadow 0.8 ha (2.0 acres) Berkhamsted
51°46′59″N 0°34′01″W / 51.7831°N 0.5670°W / 51.7831; -0.5670 (Alpine Meadow)
YES SSSI This is a steeply sloping area of meadow and woodland, and it has been designated an SSSI as a rare example of unimproved chalk grassland. Butterflies include marbled white and the rare Duke of Burgundy.
Amwell Quarry Amwell Quarry 40.1 ha (99 acres) Amwell
51°47′47″N 0°00′19″W / 51.7965°N 0.0053°W / 51.7965; -0.0053 (Amwell Quarry)
YES SSSI Ramsar SPA This former gravel pit is of international importance for wintering wildfowl. It also has many species of breeding birds, damselflies and dragonflies, including the hairy dragonfly, red-eyed damselfly and southern hawker.
Ashwell Quarry and Quarry Springs Ashwell Quarry and Quarry Springs 3.0 ha (7.4 acres) Ashwell
52°02′25″N 0°10′26″W / 52.0402°N 0.1738°W / 52.0402; -0.1738 (Ashwell Quarry and Quarry Springs)
PO RIGS Plants in the quarry include pyramidal orchid, clustered bellflower and glaucous sedge, and there are rare mosses in shaded hollows. Quarry Springs has rare wildlife such as flatworms which need water which is clean and at a constant temperature around 10 °C.
Balls Wood Balls Wood 58.5 ha (145 acres) Hertford Heath
51°46′41″N 0°02′49″W / 51.778°N 0.047°W / 51.778; -0.047 (Balls Wood)
YES The site has areas of hornbeam coppice and mixed woodland with wide grassy paths, which have many butterflies in the spring. Great spotted woodpeckers and sparrowhawks breed on the site.
Blagrove Common Blagrove Common 3.9 ha (9.6 acres) Sandon
51°59′11″N 0°04′00″W / 51.9863°N 0.0668°W / 51.9863; -0.0668 (Blagrove Common)
YES SSSI This is marshy grassland on poorly draining clay, which is now a scarce habitat in the county. The rich flora include several species of orchids, cuckoo flowers, and marsh marigolds.
Broadwater Lake Korda Lake 19.4 ha (48 acres) Harefield
51°35′07″N 0°29′33″W / 51.5852°N 0.4924°W / 51.5852; -0.4924 (Broadwater Lake)
YES SSSI The reserve includes Korda Lake, Long Pond, the River Colne and the western side of Broadwater Lake. It is part of the Mid Colne Valley SSSI, which has nationally important bird colonies including great crested grebes, cormorants and gadwalls.
Cassiobury Park Cassiobury Park 24.6 ha (61 acres) Watford
51°39′49″N 0°25′34″W / 51.6635°N 0.4262°W / 51.6635; -0.4262 (Cassiobury Park)
YES LNR The nature reserve is a corner of the park. It has marshland and open pools, together with areas of wet woodland and pasture. These provide breeding sites and food for many bird species.
Danemead Danemead 5.6 ha (14 acres) Hoddesdon
51°45′08″N 0°03′03″W / 51.7523°N 0.0507°W / 51.7523; -0.0507 (Danemead)
YES SSSI This is part of the Wormley-Hoddesdonpark Wood North SSSI. It has areas of wet grassland, scrub and hornbeam woodland, together with a stream. Wild flowers include meadowsweet and devil's-bit scabious.
Fir and Pond Woods alt-Fir Wood 29.0 ha (72 acres) Potters Bar
51°41′44″N 0°09′11″W / 51.6955°N 0.1530°W / 51.6955; -0.1530 (Fir and Pond Woods)
YES Fir Wood to the south is connected by a short footpath to the large Pond Wood to the north. The woods are a remnant of the ancient Enfield Chase, and they have woodland, meadows and wetlands, and diverse bird life. Turkey Brook passes a meadow at the southern end of Pond Wood.
Fox Covert Fox Covert 2.9 ha (7.2 acres) Royston
52°02′24″N 0°03′21″W / 52.0401°N 0.0557°W / 52.0401; -0.0557 (Fox Covert)
YES The site is mature beech woodland, planted in the nineteenth century, and ground flora includes many white helleborine orchids. It has deer and many species of birds.
Frogmore Meadow Frogmore Meadows and River Chess 3.3 ha (8.2 acres) Chenies
51°40′45″N 0°31′21″W / 51.6791°N 0.5225°W / 51.6791; -0.5225 (Frogmore Meadow)
YES SSSI This SSSI has marshy areas and fens next to the River Chess, damp grassland and drier, more acidic areas. The river bank has water voles, and damp areas are dominated by meadow foxtail and Yorkshire fog.
Gobions Wood Gobions Wood 36.0 ha (89 acres) Brookmans Park
51°43′17″N 0°11′33″W / 51.7213°N 0.1925°W / 51.7213; -0.1925 (Gobions Wood)
YES The site is mainly woodland, but additional habitats are grassland, hedges and ponds. 558 species of fungi have been found, two of which have not been recorded previously in Britain, and over 100 which are scarce in Hertfordshire. Birds include blackcaps, chiffchaffs and nuthatches.
Hawkins Wood Hawkins Wood 10.0 ha (25 acres) Therfield
51°59′52″N 0°03′06″W / 51.9978°N 0.0517°W / 51.9978; -0.0517 (Hawkins Wood)
YES The wood is thought to be named after a John Hawkins who is mentioned in documents dated 1676. It is divided by medieval banks and ditches into north, south and central sections. It has woods, fields and hedges, and birds include bullfinch, linnet and yellowhammer. There are also brown hares and deer.
Hertford Heath Hertford Heath 28.3 ha (70 acres) Hertford Heath
51°46′48″N 0°02′32″W / 51.7800°N 0.0423°W / 51.7800; -0.0423 (Hertford Heath)
YES SSSI This site is an example of heathland, a threatened habitat in southern England. It is dominated by heather, and there are grass snakes and slowworms. Sphagnum mosses and creeping willow are found in wetter areas.
Hexton Chalk Pit Hexton Chalk Pit 1.9 ha (4.7 acres) Hexton
51°57′25″N 0°23′23″W / 51.9570°N 0.3897°W / 51.9570; -0.3897 (Hexton Chalk Pit)
YES This former chalk quarry is grassland with steep slopes and many chalk-loving plants such as horseshoe vetch, yellow-wort and milkwort. There are five species of orchid and a large colony of chalkhill blue butterflies. The site has extensive views over the countryside.
Hilfield Park Reservoir Hilfield Park Reservoir 76.3 ha (189 acres) Bushey
51°39′04″N 0°20′10″W / 51.651°N 0.336°W / 51.651; -0.336 (Hilfield Park Reservoir)
WTO LNR This large reservoir is of national importance for pochards, tufted ducks and common tern. The margins have marshy areas with many breeding birds and marsh plants, such as reedmace and reed canarygrass.
Hunsdon and Eastwick Meads Hunsdon Mead 28.0 ha (69 acres) Harlow
51°46′33″N 0°02′56″E / 51.7758°N 0.0488°E / 51.7758; 0.0488 (Hunsdon and Eastwick Meads)
YES SSSI This SSSI is unimproved grassland which is subject to flooding in winter. It is one of the last areas in the region to be managed by the old Lammas method of hay-making followed by winter grazing.
King's Meads New River in King's Meads 96.0 ha (237 acres) Ware
51°48′18″N 0°02′38″W / 51.805°N 0.044°W / 51.805; -0.044 (King's Meads)
YES The site is water meadows which are subject to flooding in winter. It has large populations of water birds, and is an important site for over-wintering stonechats. 119 bird species and 265 wildflower species have been recorded.
Lemsford Springs Lemsford Springs 4.0 ha (9.9 acres) Lemsford
51°47′47″N 0°13′43″W / 51.7964°N 0.2287°W / 51.7964; -0.2287 (Lemsford Springs)
PO The sites has lagoons which are fed by springs, so they never freeze over and provide an important habitat for birds in cold winters. There are two bird hides, and birds which can be seen include water rails, snipe and green sandpipers. There are also water shrews and around fifty species of freshwater snails.
Long Deans Long Deans 15.0 ha (37 acres) Nash Mills
51°43′52″N 0°26′39″W / 51.7312°N 0.4441°W / 51.7312; -0.4441 (Long Deans)
YES This reserve is neutral and chalk grassland and woodland, with beech, ash, oak and wild cherry. The grassland has wild flowers, birds and butterflies. Ancient trees have fungi, birds and bats. Birds include common linnet, common bullfinch and song thrush.
Longspring Wood Longspring Wood 1.2 ha (3.0 acres) Kings Langley
51°43′12″N 0°25′17″W / 51.7201°N 0.4213°W / 51.7201; -0.4213 (Longspring Wood)
YES The main trees in this small wood are oak, ash, wild cherry and hazel, and there is a display of bluebells in the spring. Birds include warblers, finches and tits, and there are mammals such as foxes and badgers.
Old Park Wood Old Park Wood 7.7 ha (19 acres) Harefield
51°36′40″N 0°29′09″W / 51.6112°N 0.4857°W / 51.6112; -0.4857 (Old Park Wood)
YES SSSI This SSSI is described by Natural England as "one of the most floristically rich ancient woods in Greater London". It is on a steep slope, cut by small valleys, and supports a variety of breeding birds.
Oughtonhead Oughtonhead Nature Reserve 6.2 ha (15 acres) Hitchin
51°57′37″N 0°17′58″W / 51.9602°N 0.2994°W / 51.9602; -0.2994 (Oughtonhead)
NO Habitats include wet and dry woodland, the bank of the River Oughton, and fen areas. Willow, reed and rush were formerly grown and harvested in the wetter areas, and there was a corn mill at the eastern end. Birds include kingfishers and water rails, and there are mammals such as water shrews.
Patmore Heath Patmore Heath 8.4 ha (21 acres) Albury
51°54′42″N 0°05′39″E / 51.9116°N 0.0943°E / 51.9116; 0.0943 (Patmore Heath)
YES SSSI Most of this SSSI is dry heathland but, in some areas variations in the underlying clay result in pools and marshy areas, which have a varied wetland flora. The heath is also noted for insects such as the emperor dragonfly.
Purwell Ninesprings Purwell Ninesprings 6.4 ha (16 acres) Hitchin
51°56′59″N 0°14′45″W / 51.9496°N 0.2459°W / 51.9496; -0.2459 (Purwell Ninesprings)
YES There is open water with water voles and birds such as moorhens, mallards and teals. Other birds include snipe and siskins. The wet ground has plants such as tussock sedge, yellow iris and water forget-me-nots.
Ridlins Mire Ridlins Mire 1.6 ha (4.0 acres) Stevenage
51°53′04″N 0°09′56″W / 51.8845°N 0.1656°W / 51.8845; -0.1656 (Ridlins Mire)
NF This wetland site is the result of a spring, which has resulted in the growth of peat over many years into a rare domed structure called a rheotrophic hangmire. The dominant plants are tussock sedge and marsh marigold. There are birds such as long-tailed tits and great tits, and butterflies including large whites and small tortoiseshells.
Rye Meads Rye Meads 32.0 ha (79 acres) Rye House
51°46′29″N 0°00′45″E / 51.7746°N 0.0126°E / 51.7746; 0.0126 (Rye Meads)
YES SSSI Ramsar SPA This is an ancient flood meadow which has a variety of habitats including reedbed, marshy grassland and fen. It is grazed by ponies and water buffalo. Birds include water rails, bitterns and teals, and there are invertebrates such as frogs, toads and grass snakes.
Stanborough Reedmarsh Stanborough Reedmarsh 3.3 ha (8.2 acres) Welwyn Garden City
51°46′48″N 0°13′04″W / 51.7801°N 0.2177°W / 51.7801; -0.2177 (Stanborough Reedmarsh)
YES LNR The site is wet willow woodland on the bank of the River Lea. It is important for water voles and birds such as reed and sedge warblers. Water figwort, common meadow rue and water chickweed grow along the river bank.
Stocker's Lake Stocker's Lake 40.4 ha (100 acres) Rickmansworth
51°38′05″N 0°29′06″W / 51.6346°N 0.4850°W / 51.6346; -0.4850 (Stocker's Lake)
YES LNR This large lake is nationally important for its wintering birds, including goldeneye and smew. It has the largest heronry in Hertfordshire and over sixty bird species have been recorded.
Stocking Springs Wood Stocking Springs Wood 1.1 ha (2.7 acres) Ayot St Lawrence
51°49′32″N 0°15′18″W / 51.8256°N 0.2551°W / 51.8256; -0.2551 (Stocking Springs Wood)
YES The site is hornbeam woodland, and older trees are gnarled in shape as a result of past coppicing. In spring there are bluebells and wild daffodils, and plants such as wood anemone are indicators that the woodland is ancient.
Tewin Orchard and Hopkyns Wood Entrance to Tewin Orchard 4.3 ha (11 acres) Tewin
51°49′27″N 0°09′39″W / 51.8242°N 0.1608°W / 51.8242; -0.1608 (Tewin Orchard and Hopkyns Wood)
YES Tewin Orchard is an eighty-year old fruit orchard which has a number of Hertfordshire apple varieties, including the Hitchin Pippin, which was propagated from the last known tree. The orchard attracts many birds, such as fieldfares and redwings. Hopkyns Wood is dominated by oaks and hornbeams, with ground flora of bluebells and ramsons. It also has a mature badger sett.
Tewinbury Tewinbury 3.6 ha (8.9 acres) Tewin
51°49′27″N 0°09′39″W / 51.8242°N 0.1608°W / 51.8242; -0.1608 (Tewinbury)
VO SSSI This SSSI has alluvial meadows and marshes which are rare in lowland Britain. There are areas of swamp and tall fens, with plants including butterbur and angelica. Otters have been observed on the riverbank.
Thorley Wash Thorley Wash 13.0 ha (32 acres) Thorley
51°50′32″N 0°09′39″E / 51.8421°N 0.1607°E / 51.8421; 0.1607 (Thorley Wash)
YES SSSI This site was formerly a flood pound for the Stort Navigation. Habitats include tall wash grassland, which is now rare, marsh and waterlogged grassland. The varied plant species include reed sweet-grass and meadowsweet.
Tring Reservoirs Startops Reservoir 55.0 ha (136 acres) Tring
51°48′43″N 0°41′20″W / 51.812°N 0.689°W / 51.812; -0.689 (Tring Reservoirs)
YES SSSI The reservoirs are located on the chalk of the Chilterns, and they have clear eutrophic waters with diverse animals and plants. They are an important habitat for birds and invertebrates, including diverse dragonfly species.
Uxbridge Alderglade Uxbridge Alderglade 2.9 ha (7.2 acres) Uxbridge
51°33′26″N 0°28′34″W / 51.5571°N 0.4760°W / 51.5571; -0.4760 (Uxbridge Alderglade)
YES This former railway embankment is wet woodland of crack willow and alder, with areas of marsh. Plants include birds-foot trefoil and small toadflax, and mammals the rare Brandt's bat, as well as stoats, weasels and moles.
Waterford Heath Waterford Heath 35.2 ha (87 acres) Waterford
51°49′07″N 0°05′19″W / 51.8185°N 0.0885°W / 51.8185; -0.0885 (Waterford Heath)
YES LNR This is a former quarry, which has grassland, scrub and woodland. Breeding birds include skylarks and willow warblers, and there are reptiles such as slowworms, common lizards and grass snakes.
Willowmead River Mimram in Willowmead 1.5 ha (3.7 acres) Hertford
51°47′33″N 0°05′43″W / 51.7926°N 0.0954°W / 51.7926; -0.0954 (Willowmead)
YES The site is on the bank of the River Mimram, and it is wet woodland, mainly of alder trees which are often mature. Water voles and otters have been seen in the river. Water birds include kingfishers, mallards and mandarin ducks. There are breeding birds in the woodland, such as lesser spotted woodpeckers and spotted flycatcher.

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