Fowlmere RSPB reserve

Fowlmere RSPB Reserve

Fowlmere RSPB reserve

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Fowlmere is an RSPB nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, England. It is situated 11 km south of Cambridge between Fowlmere village and Melbourn. Fowlmere's reedbeds and pools are fed by natural chalk springs and a chalk stream runs through the reserve. It has three hide, one of which is wheelchair-accessible. Special birds include kingfisher, water rails, sedge warblers, reed warblers and grasshopper warblers plus a roost of corn buntings in winter.

History of Fowlmere Nature Reserve

The reserve was bought by the RSPB in 1977 using money raised in a sponsored birdwatch by the RSPB's junior branch. The name Fowlmere comes from the nature of the site before 1800 when it was an area of open water which was a habitat for large numbers of wildfowl. In 1850 attempts were made to drain the area but failed. In the 1890s watercress began to be grown and ponds were dug and lined with clay. The watercress growers gained more control over the water levels by driving pipes into the ground from which the water bubbled to the surface and still flow when the water table is high enough. However due to extraction of water for people in surrounding areas, the water flowing out of the spring is decreased over its 19th-century levels, and during dry periods the Environment Agency provides extra water. The watercress was washed and packed on site before being taken by horse and cart to Shepreth station and thence to Covent Garden Market in London. Watercress growing continued until the...
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