The owner at the time had a vision to turn the site into a trout fishery. He allowed the removal of aggregate to leave two bodies of water each with an island, numerous inlets, promontories and a whole range of water depths. Over time the lakeside and lakes have developed into a beautiful picturesque site.
There are hundreds of mature trees surrounding the whole site, many of which have tree preservation orders. These are the bastions of the whole eco-system and provide a wide range of habitats for all kinds of organisms.
The lakes are up to 5 metres deep, and since the removal of trout have turned into two distinct habitats.
West Stow lake is the first you come to when you enter the site. Most people give a little gasp of surprise when they first see the lake, it is truly beautiful. There are relatively few fish in this lake, but pop your head below the surface and you will see thousands of diving beetles, dragonfly larvae, damsel fly nymphs, fresh water mussels and so many other organisms. A wonder for pond dippers and naturalists. Look above the surface and marvel at the adult dragonflies and damselflies swarming around the lake.
Walk round West Stow lake and you arrive at Glebe lake on the far side of the land. In contrast to West Stow lake this is full of fish. There are roach, rudd, perch, tench, pike, and chub. These provide plenty of food for kingfishers, herons, and cormorants. Many other birds flock to the area and on occasions we have had up to 10 egrets feeding in the margins at one time.
Signal crayfish abound in the area. They are an invasive species brought in from North America and quite a pest. They eat anything they can grab and cause a lot of problems for many native organisms. We trap them but are also helped by an otter that visits regularly. It has a liking for crayfish and we often see evidence of its last meal in its spraint (poo to you and me) There may be a little pile laced with crayfish claws and carapace left on the bank.
Running between the two lakes is Culford stream. This is one of just 250 chalk streams in the world. We are also blessed to own a stretch of bank running alongside the River lark, a second chalk stream. These are unique habitats with unique wildlife. If you join us for a walk and talk, you will learn all about them. The entire place is alive with birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, invertebrates and insects, a true wildlife paradise.
Generally we allow the environment to do what it wants to encourage natural wilding. If a species belongs, it will find its place.
However, we are developing some areas to help existing species
- Compost heaps for snakes and slow worms
- Bee walls to encourage solitary bees
- Log piles to encourage insects
- A wall made of branches to provide a safe area for birds, mammals and insects.