In October 2019, Richmond Council awarded the Friends of Barnes Common (FoBC) the contract to undertake the active conservation management of this valuable wetland nature reserve. Built in 1838, the Reservoir supplied water until its decommission in 1960. Today this linear site measures just 800 x 100 metres (8.2ha).
Like many of our green spaces, supporters of Leg o’ Mutton (LOM) reserve have, over the years, had to fight its corner. In 1970, following several public enquiries with regard to various housing developments, Richmond Council purchased the area from Thames Water. The site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1990 and in 1993, registered as a Grade I Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Today, there is as an Advisory Committee of local interested parties of which FoBC is a member.
The reservoir hosts a wealth of wildlife. Winter duck populations include Teal and Shoveler and it is a know breeding ground for Pochards and Little Grebes. The reed beds and scrub are home to both Reed and Cetti’s Warblers and the occasional Water Rail, whilst Common Terns make use of the rafts for breeding. There is an active Heronry and appearances of Little Egret are becoming more frequent. Imposing hybrid poplars – some believed to be 170 years old, are home to many invertebrates including stag beetles. Others, such as bush crickets and several butterfly spp are reliant on some of LOM’s more unusual flora such as bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), whose tall flower spikes provide a beautiful and welcome springtime source of nectar.
Working in line with the site management plan, current tasks includes maintenance of water levels & nesting rafts, weekly patrols, control of invasive tree & shrub species and litter removal.
Overseeing things is FoBC Conservation Manager Will Dartnell. Will is looking to increase survey work in the following areas: amphibians, bats, butterflies, dragonflies, flora and water quality. Longer term aims include increasing the reed bed habitat, enhancing the native tree composition and exploring the potential to reduce some of the existing rafts and replace with islands which would give the reservoir a more naturalistic look.
FoBC is delighted to have stewardship of this very special site and hope as many as possible will want to get involved. To find out more, please Contact Will