Explore this little-known urban birdwatching oasis
LOCATED BEHIND A housing estate in Hitchin, this little gem of a nature reserve, only 6.4 hectares in size, is so well hidden that hardly anyone knows of its existence. Managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Purwell Ninesprings is the top spot in North Hertfordshire for Water Voles. Running alongside a bridleway, this open water site doesn’t just attract water loving mammals but also a wide variety of birds who are enticed to the mixture of reedbeds, meadows and also mature Alder woodland. Sightings here include Reed Warblers in spring and summer, Little Egrets and Green Woodpeckers. Take your wellies along, as even at the driest time of year, the trail through the reserve can be soggy.