The people at the Hartpury Heritage Trust who run The Hartpury Orchard Centre (home to the national collection of perry pears) had a vision in the early 2000s to expand the wetland below their perry orchards from one to 4 hectares and create a haven for wildlife. In 2021, that wetland is home to an environment where you can now see 15 Red List and 16 Amber List Birds of Conservation Concern.
The wetland was designed by an ecologist contracted by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust who worked closely with JPR staff to make the project on the ground match the vision. The works involved moving many thousands of tonnes of soil, creating channels and ditches, planting marginal aquatics and controlling water levels. As soon as the newly created ditches started flooding with water, dragonflies came skimming along the surface, looking for places to lay their eggs.
This wetland is spring fed from the slopes above and landscaped to provide differing depths of water. It consists of scrapes, marsh, deep pools and ditches and provides excellent habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, not just birds.
It was a wonderful site to work on and an enjoyable, collaborative project all those years ago (we started work in 2007 and finished in 2008) – we go back every now and again to see how it is getting on. On one such visit, we even saw otter prints!