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Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - ABI­GAIL HAMIL­TON-THOMP­SON

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.

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