THORLEY WASH NATURE Reserve, managed by the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, is situated alongside the River Stort. The reserve is unusual in that it is within two counties, with main access in Essex, and the reserve itself within Hertfordshire. It was formerly known as the Thorley Flood Pound, a flood storage for the River Stort, but this was decommissioned in 2004 and has been restored to a natural state, with SSSI status granted in 1986. Today, the 13-hectare site, Thorley Wash, is one of the few remaining wet grasslands and contains rare fen plants. Highland Cattle have also recently been introduced and along the wildlife trail can be found wooden sculptures, created by Daniel Cadell. Barn Owls have been breeding here, and there have been records of Green Sandpiper and Grasshopper Warbler. Look out along the Stort for insect feeding birds such as Swifts, as well as Little Grebes. Elsewhere, listen out for the Great Spotted Woodpecker, and scan overhead for Buzzard and Kestrel. If you are an early riser it is thoroughly recommended to visit Thorley Wash for the dawn chorus. If you have the time then ensure you take an extended walk along the Stort northwards towards Bishops Stortford – no guarantee but you may well be rewarded with a glimpse of the elusive Kingfisher darting along the river. The reserve was recently part of a Water Vole relocation project, with 160 individuals released here At the entrance to the reserve, stand at the bridge and check the River Stort for birds such as the Coot and Little Grebe.
1Looking back over towards the woodland look out for finches and woodpeckers hiding in the woodland.
2Here we have great views over the meadows, with clear open spaces this is the place to check for various warblers.