CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 23



Duck decoys: stars of the pond landscape
from all around the country, including Gore Decoy
(Essex), Skellingthorpe (Lincolnshire), Haughton
(Nottinghamshire), Meaux (Yorkshire), Ashwell
(Hertfordshire), and the Welsh example at Lymore
Park, in Montgomeryshire.
Several decoys remain on estates now accessible to the public. The National Trust’s parkland
around Hardwick Hall, in Derbyshire, includes
the site of a cage-trap decoy, one of the stone
sight-houses having been restored. Hardwick
Decoy is currently the subject of an archaeological investigation, backed up by biological
and hydrological surveys, which will guide
future management of the feature. At Coombe
Country Park, in Coventry, the decoy, built in
1880 to supply the Coombe Abbey estate, now
provides a pond-dipping area and features on a
guided trail. Thirkleby Decoy is a fishing lake in a
caravan park, as is one on Mersea Island, in Essex,
while Whittlesey Decoy has given its name to a
complex of fishery lakes. Ashby Decoy provides
irrigation water for a Scunthorpe golf course. At
Ranworth Broad, the former decoy is a feature of
the nature trail (boasting Royal Fern Osmunda
regalis and Swallowtail Papilio machaon) around
the Broads Visitor Centre, although the access
path is currently requiring repair. Decoy Spinney,
at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, which is now largely
an area of wet woodland, served as a point on a
farm trail, but it has recently been closed to public
access while remaining a Wildlife Trust reserve.
Woollaton Park, enclosed in the suburbs of
Nottingham, has a decoy display in outbuildings,
and information on a nature trail.
Chillington Hall decoy, in Staffordshire, comprises
two decoy pipes, named individually ‘Rookery
Decoy’ and ‘Grecian Decoy’ (the latter situated near
a temple folly), on a large lake created by Capability
Brown. Several decoys now lie within sites featured
on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and
Gardens (Attingham, The Hoo), while Lymore Park
is covered by the Welsh equivalent.
Besides their historical value, relict decoys can
retain significant wildlife value, supporting wetland
habitats, notably open water, marsh/swamp or wet
woodland. About 23 decoys rate protection as Sites
of Special Scientific Interest. In some instances, the
decoys fall within larger SSSIs; examples include
Berkeley and Hale, on the Severn and Mersey
Estuaries respectively, and Acle, in the Broads.
The working decoy at Abbotsbury Swannery,
Dorset. Andrew Heaton
Elsewhere, the decoy itself, with its surrounding woodland, provides the wildlife interest. The
three-pipe pond and mixed woodland of Aldwincle
Decoy, built for Lord Lifford in 1885, now holds
one of the largest heronries in Northamptonshire,
forming part of Titchmarsh Local Nature Reserve,
which in turn falls within both a SSSI and an SPA.
Other SSSI decoys include Coatham, Coombe,
New Forest and Hemsby.
Four National Nature Reserves, in Dorset
(Morden Bog), Huntingdonshire (Holme Fen) and
Norfolk (Holkham; Bure Marshes), include decoys.
Ten decoys are features of National Parks (notably
the Broads), and a similar number fall within
AONBs such as the Suffolk Coast and Heaths.
Four decoys sit in Country Parks.
Friskney Decoy Wood is a nature reserve of the
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, supporting bird species
such as Siskins Carduelis spinus, Reed Warblers
Acrocephalus scirpaceus and Kingfishers Alcedo
atthis. Another Wildlife Trust, that of Essex, has
a decoy on its Abbotts Hall property, the site of
a managed-retreat scheme, causing concern for
archaeologists regarding erosive effects on the
decoy. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has a decoy site at
Denaby Ings. There is Wildlife Trust involvement
at half-a-dozen sites in total.
At several former decoys, plans for restoration
are expected or already implemented. At Coombe
February 2016 British Wildlife 169
BWM27_3 04 duck decoys.indd 169
29/01/2016 12:55

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