WILDLIFE AND WILDBIRDS MERCERS COUNTRY PARK


Surrey is a county rich in wildlife. Despite its small size and proximity to London, it supports a range of habitats and species of local, national and international importance. The varied geology and topography, together with a lengthy human influence, have sustained Surrey's woodland, heathland, chalk grassland, open water and rivers.

Surrey is the most wooded county in England and its heathland is of international importance. The North Downs supports chalk grassland and Surrey acts as a stronghold for species such as the silver-spotted skipper.

There are a number of wetland natures reserves in the vacinity of Mercers Park Lake all created by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The Nutfield Marsh Project created four wetland nature reserves (The Moors, Spynes Mere, Holmethorpe Lagoons and Mercers West). These reserves were restored from sand workings, along the Redhill Brook. They support a myriad of wetland wildlife from dragonflies to wildfowl.

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Holmthorpe bird watch

Located just outside of Redhill in Surrey is Mercer Country Park. The park was established around the area of a former old quarry pit between the communities of Merstham and Nutfield. The pit, since closure, has filled with water and is used for a large range of water sports but around its edge the park has a circular walk. Please keep your dogs on the lead and clear up their mess. Mercer Country Park is also a noted nature reserve with large flocks of wild birds and an assortment of other wildlife to see.

Ducks such as mallard and teal flock to feed. UK residents are joined by many over-wintering species including Gadwall and Pochard ducks. Moorhen and the shy water rail also creep through the waterside vegetation. Grazed grassland provides the right habitat for skylark and lapwing to nest. In autumn, snipe, and other waders, arrive for winter. They probe the soft ground with their long bills, searching for food. 

In summer the pools are alive with small damselflies such as banded demoiselle, and bigger dragonflies like the southern hawker and emperor. They spend much of their life below water with other pond life like water scorpions, beetles and boatmen. Stickleback, washed in by the flood, provide food for kingfishers and grey herons.

Access to Mercers Country Park can be found via the public footpath from Nutfield Marsh Road, Redhill or Cormongers Lane, Nutfield. Park is available in Mercers Country Park, off Nutfield Marsh Rd, Nutfield.

Further information about Nutfield Marsh and Map click here.

Bittern in flight

THE MOORS BY STEVE BOLTON

THE MORES

Along Redhill Brook lies the 21 hectare wetland nature reserve known as The Moors. The Moors floods from the Redhill Brook during winter, and on occasions this creates one large lake, which the footpath crosses. You feel as if you are walking on water! This floodwater helps stop Redhill from flooding.

Ducks such as mallard and teal flock to feed on the flood. Moorhen and the shy water rail also creep through the waterside vegetation. Grazed grassland provides the right habitat for skylark and lapwing to nest. In autumn, snipe, and other waders, arrive for winter. They probe the soft ground with their long bills, searching for food. 

In summer the pools are alive with small damselflies such as banded demoiselle, and bigger dragonflies like the southern hawker and emperor. They spend much of their life below water with other pond life like water scorpions, beetles and boatmen. Stickleback, washed in by the flood, provide food for kingfishers and grey herons.

Around the pools the flowers of yellow flag are followed by purple loosestrife and creamy meadowsweet, as well as sedges, rushes and bur reed – a favourite food of water voles. Listen out for their characteristic ‘plop’. On the drier meadows the yellow of cowslip and trefoil, and the white of oxeye daisy and yarrow attract feeding bees and butterflies.

Access to The Moors can be found via the public footpath from Cavendish Rd, Redhill or Cormongers Lane, Nutfield. The nearest car park is found in Mercers Country Park, off Nutfield Marsh Rd, Nutfield.

Bittern in flight

SPYNES MERE BY STEVE BOLTON

SPYNES MERE

Spynes Mere is a wetland nature reserve of 14 ha, created from restored sand workings by WBB Minerals who lease the site to the Wildlife Trust. 

Before sand was extracted the area was farmland. Spynes is a very old word, in use before the Norman Conquest to describe the area. It means summer fattening pasture, and is correctly pronounced spines, like the spine of a thorn. 

Today, Spynes Mere comprises three lakes, which flow into the Redhill Brook.

You can walk around the reserve, following the footpath routes. Please keep your dogs on the lead and clear up their mess. 

The biggest lake is home to many waterbirds. They are at their greatest numbers in winter, when tufted duck, gadwall, mallard and the occasional pochard ducks can be found, together with mute swans, little grebes, coot, moorhens and greylag geese. See if you can spot the grey gadwall ducks quite literally mug the coots when they bob back up the surface having dived for waterplants to feed on. The gadwall is a dabbling duck and so can’t dive, but has learnt to pinch food off diving birds like coot.

In spring and summer, look out for young waterbirds. Spynes Mere is particularly good for breeding little grebe. Look out for the young grebes, like stripped humbugs, riding on the back of their parents.

Please do not feed the waterfowl. This litters the reserve, attracts vermin, causes problems to the ecology of the reserve, and starts to create a dependency on human feeding by what are wild birds. 

Listen out for the songs and calls of sedge warbler and reed buntings hidden amongst the swampy vegetation. That squealing pig you can hear could be the cry of the secretive water rail hidden amongst the reeds.

Spynes Mere is not just good for birds. In warm sunny weather, the site is alive with dragonflies and damselflies, patrolling their territories and egg laying on the water. Of the larger dragonflies, the green and blue of the southern hawker is characteristic of the reserve in high summer, patrolling its territory up and down, mixing with a myriad of damselflies over the water surface of the lakes.

Spynes Mere is located south of Bletchingly Rd and west of the M23 motorway, Merstham. The nearest car park is found in Mercers Country Park, off Nutfield Marsh Rd, Nutfield.