Stourvale Nature Reserve
Stourvale wetland is located at grid reference SO 82879 77561 (DY10 2HP).
This site is approximately 10 hectares (25 Acres). A wetland site in its infancy that is bordered along its western boundary by the river Stour, southern edge by the Environment agency Kidderminster flood alleviation bund and is adjacent to Puxton Marsh and Stourvale Site of Special Scientific Interest, forming part of the Stour Valley wetland corridor.
It is an area of land which was, until recently, industrial. Before being transferred to the Ranger Service in 2009, there was a great deal of work involved removing contaminated spoil. This work left large hollows and depressions which over time have become pools and areas of extremely boggy, marshy ground. There had been a long period of time between the ownership transfer, which allowed willow to begin colonising. These were gradually drying the soil and shading out the flora.
Though in its early stages, Stourvale is showing great promise for becoming an important and good quality wetland habitat. In 2010 we began by removing a large proportion of the young trees, leaving a few scattered specimens, and a line of trees to act as a screen, giving ground nesting birds the privacy they require.
The site is grazed during the summer, once the spring and early summer flowers have set seed, knocking back the grasses and allowing the seed to germinate.
What the site does currently lack is some of the real wetland floral stars such as southern marsh orchid that is found on the adjacent Puxton Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest. This has lead to us to start up a project with a local, but internationally renowned orchid specialist. Our specialist has collected seed from local orchid populations, to be grown-on by school children and volunteers in a local specialist laboratory, which when mature will be planted out on the wetland.
There is a small, mown walkway that runs between the bank of the river Stour and the wetland area, leading to a raised area, often used by wildlife enthusiasts for observing the many birds using the marshland.
During summer the site is awash with a variety of dragonflies and damselflies, kingfisher and heron are often seen hunting along the river bank and there has been regular evidence of otters, although the sighting of these animals may be a rare occurrence.