Etton Maxey Pits
Langdyke’s largest reserve is a huge open landscape of around 34 hectares – the equivalent size of about thirty football pitches.
Managed in association with Tarmac this former gravel pit is being restored to a mix of ponds, wet meadows and wild-flower rich banks.
In Spring and Summer, the larger ponds are home to common tern and black headed gulls, little grebes and mute swans, while the meadows provide nesting habitat for skylark, redshank and lapwing.
Pyramidal orchids have spread rapidly across the reserve and water voles have been found in the ditches. Common blue butterflies feed on thistles on the banks and emperor and hairy dragonflies patrol the waterways.
Cuckoo, turtle dove, hobby and marsh harrier are regular summer visitors too.
The site floods in winter providing food and shelter for ducks such as teal, gadwall and shovelar, Snipe and jack snipe can be found in the flooded meadows and wading birds, including dunlin, black tailed godwit and ringed plover stop off on migration north and south.
Managing the reserve
By contrast to the intimacy of Swaddywell, Etton Maxey Pit is a huge open landscape between Maxey and Etton
However a similar number of habitat ranges exist (and geological ranges too – it is also a RIGS site due to the post-ice age complexities).
We can vary the background water level by controlling the pump which extracts into Maxey Cut. This translates into wet areas managed as home and breeding ground for waders (lapwing, redshank and little ringed plover), some drier areas home to skylarks, and a small wooded area which this year was a “purple haze” with thousands of pyramidal orchids
All are shared by a brown hare population – up to four have been seen, with amusing encounters with sheep and between leverets and sizeable young waders.
There are water inflows from the surrounding areas (W and NE) which feed a network of reedy ditches and the main lake. This in turn attracts migrating birds following their paths along the Welland Valley, and insects throughout the summer. Water Vole were seen in summer 2017.
- Access to the site is by a permit scheme only, administered by the Trust. This is essential as the site is part of a working quarry and Tarmac and Langdyke have to ensure that health and safety rules are in place and observed and that consideration is given to the operational needs for Tarmac to comply with its planning obligations as controlled by Peterborough City Council.
Dogs are welcome, but should be on a lead at all times.