One of our favourite nearby places is Kempton Nature Reserve, a former reservoir, between the A316 and Kempton Park racecourse. Although we have lived in this area for many years and knew that there were water works in that area, we were not aware of the nature reserve until early in 2006. Alice’s 2009 birdlist is here.
View my first film of the reserve, and my second film is coming soon.
Here’s the view from the West Hide on 19th May, 2006, our first visit.
Below is a plan of the reserve.
And here’s the view from above.
Recently, 2008/9 I was pleased to hear from Steve Long, former warden of the Reserve.
Hi Martin & Alice
I used to be the warden at Kempton Nature Reserve. I just Googled the reserve to see if there were any latest pictures so that I could see how things are coming along. I came across your web pages and your video.
It is such a fantastic place and it brought back a lot of memories seeing your video. I was responsible for a lot of the habitat enhancement works 5-8 years ago, including the creation of the south terrace approach to the east bird hide, the reedbed in the east and the viewing mound and screen, and the creation of new islands and channels throughout the reserve. Just looking at your video I see that there is a reasonable amount of reed growing in the reedbed - although, probably not as much as I would have liked at this stage.
I left the job at Thames Water 5 years ago. It was a tough decision - but my reason was to move to New Zealand, where for the past few years I have been working for the Minister for the Environment . So quite a difference - I do miss playing in the mud at Kempton!
One of the great things about Kempton is that you never know what might turn up there. Over the years the odd gem has turned up - so you do not need to be a classic twitcher and spend your time rushing across the country!
The big challenge with Kempton will always be to keep on top of the invasive weed - Crassula helmsii, the New Zealand Pigmyweed. Though I think the infestation is so severe it will be somewhat of a losing battle! Funnily enough I have never seen it over here (NZ), but I guess it would be much more conspicuous in it's naturally habitats. The other challenge is keeping enough water on the site. We installed the water control device in the corner by the overspill - as for a while we suffered from too much water. I'd always dreamed of having some means of topping the water up - but unfortunately we had to rely on rain (which was not always forthcoming!).
So, thanks for your website. It will be a great way for me to keep up to date with progress on the nature reserve. I look forward to seeing your second video.
How we found the Reserve
I was looking at the BBC website early in 2006 and saw a reference to a booming bittern, a shy and secretive bird of which Alice is rightly fond.
At Easter 2005, we were on holiday in Suffolk. We were visiting a nature area which had an information centre. Inside there was a display about local birds, and it was possible to press buttons to hear the call of each different bird. I pressed the button to hear the call of the bittern and it sounds somewhat like someone blowing over the top of an empty milk bottle. The following day we visited Minsmere nature reserve and as we were walking through the woodland I suddenly thought I heard a bittern making its familiar booming sound. I alerted Alice but she had not heard it. A few moments later I heard It again, and then a third time. Soon after we came across a warden from the reserve and he confirmed that I had probably heard a booming bittern. Unfortunately we never actually saw the bittern.
Anyway, I've digressed slightly. The link on the BBC website led us to a Thames Water website. We contacted the warden on the number we found and arranged for a visit. Soon after we became members, and now regularly visit the nature reserve every two or three weeks. I’m the one who is occasionally heard to say, “Oh, look, there’s a magpie.” Alice looks more studious.
These two panoramas were taken in the summer of 2006 (above) and on New Year’s Day 2007, after a lot of rain. It’s hard to believe that they show the same place just six months apart.
The panorama below, (aligned slightly differently, note the line of houses), dates from 26th February, 2007, in driving rain, hence the dull colour, with even more water and less vegetation. From the West Hide we saw blue tits and long-tailed tits, and lots of Canada geese from the South Hide, as well as spoonbills and a pochard. By the East Screen we were amazed to swarms of little flies already. We are sadly too inexperienced to have been able to identify the many unseen birds we could hear. Help always wanted!
If anyone is ever able to give us a lift to the reserve from Teddington we’d be most grateful. I’m very good at the combination locks! Contact us here. We had a terrible bus journey yesterday, as well as getting thoroughly (hail) drenched on the way home.