Rare birds flock to Crowborough reserve

Heather blooming
Heather blooming

This summer has seen another successful year for wildlife and visitors at the RSPB’s Broadwater Warren nature reserve between Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells.

Warden Tom Pinches said: “Rare birds such as woodlark and tree pipit had their best year here for over a decade, and turtle doves, Britain’s most threatened bird, have been calling here all summer. Nightjars are increasing, as are bees and butterflies; while a kingfisher and even a grass snake were seen using the Decoy Pond over the summer.”

Since buying the site in 2008, the charity is returning it to the former mix of open heath and native woodland. This involves removing 50 hectares of pines planted in the 1950s, and there is another third to go, with the final felling in 2015.

Heather started to grow in newly cleared areas encouraging butterflies, bees, reptiles and many different birds to make themselves at home. In time, the reserve will be half native woodland and half open heath, with views of the landscape beyond.

With the increasing array of wildlife to be found the reserve has also seen a rise in numbers of visiting families and wildlife lovers as well as groups like Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh Award participants.

Tom added: “This winter 500 native trees will be planted including oak, hazel, hornbeam and rowan, with four new ponds also being created.

“We are installing new benches and asking visitors where they would like them.”

New signage and information boards will guide visitors around the reserve and a footbridge is being built over the end of the Decoy Pond.

Contributions came from the SITA Trust, Biffa Award, and the Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund, and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Weald Forest Ridge Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Tom concluded: “It is ironic that a site once earmarked as a potential landfill site is now being turned into something so special, with help from these landfill companies. It’s turning into a wonderful home for nature and a great place for visitors.”