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An Introduction to Chasewater & the Chasewater Wildlife Group


Chasewater Country Park is situated in the heart of the Forest of Mercia, on the southern edge of Staffordshire and immediately north of the West Midland conurbation.   It lies on the 150 m contour 4 kilometres south of the Iron-Age hillfort of Castle Ring, which at 244 m is the highest point on Cannock Chase.  The Country Park covers 300 ha of which the lake and dam make up 93 ha and Jeffrey’s Swag 10 ha.  The Norton Bog restoration area, which includes the Slurry Pool (5 ha), is additional to the Country Park.

Jeffrey's Swag - Sept. 2004

 

Slurry Pool - Sept. 2004

Built to supply water to the Wyrley and Essington canal, the reservoir was first used in 1797.  Initially set in a wild and desolate landscape within Cannock Chase, its setting was modified by a hundred years of extensive coal mining and associated urbanisation.  By the time the last pit closed in 1959, the area was hardly a beauty spot but the mosaic of largely open habitats had proven to be attractive to a number of bird species not usually found so far inland.  A winter flock of Twite was regular and Snow Buntings, Eider and Great Grey Shrikes occurred more often than anywhere else in the region.

 

 

The Old Steamer

Jefffrey's Swag - early 1900's

North Shore (North Heath) - 1975


Aesthetic landscaping has created a ‘beauty spot’ but many of the bird specialities have gone.  However, despite all the water-sports, wildfowl numbers have increased and Chasewater is now the prime site in Staffordshire for Goldeneye and Tufted Ducks.

Feeding the birds

 

Information Board


The lake is also a roost site for thousands of gulls that feed in the surrounding area, particularly the refuse disposal sites at Cannock and Little Wyrley.  Although there are issues regarding the roost’s effect upon water quality and associated ecosystems there is no doubt that the study of these beautiful, long-distance migrants is both fascinating and rewarding.

Chasewater has a relatively small catchment (870 ha) which means that the lake is slow to fill once it has been drawn down.  This can result in prolonged periods of low water-levels producing conditions suitable for migrant waders.  However, increasing numbers of dog walkers and general disturbance have reduced wader numbers in recent years.

Rare heathland, shoreline and aquatic habitats harbour many regionally rare plants including the globally rare Floating Water-plantain, the nationally rare Round-leaved Wintergreen and the insectivorous Round-leaved SundewRegionally rare ferns like Adder’s tongue and Black spleenwort are also present.

Fly Pool

Round-leaved Wintergreen

Shorelark (Click on to enlarge)


Twenty species of dragonflies and damselflies have been recorded with most of these breeding, especially at the several small pools where water-levels are more stable and fish populations low.

Male Migrant Hawker

Fly Bay 1984

Red Deer



From Red Deer to Deergrass, wildlife is in abundance. All this is within twenty minutes of one million people in the heart of the English Midlands.  There is tremendous pressure upon the site from people wanting to sail, powerboat, waterski, walk dogs, cycle, jog, picnic, fish, play football and rugby, birdwatch and preserve trains, to name but a few.  On top of this a motorway and ring road have been recently built through the site and the threat of associated commercial development is inevitable.

Business Units - Sept. 2004

Motorway Toll Road - Sept.2004

Crazy Golf - Sept. 2004

It is clear to see the importance of having an independent group to represent the wildlife interests of the Chasewater area.  The Chasewater Wildlife Group was formed in 1995 and has made a considerable contribution to safeguarding the area’s wildlife.

See the Diary for the latest wildlife information
 


A reminder of Chasewater's Industrial Heritage

All photographs and text on this web site are copyright © Graham Evans, Phill Ward, Neil Stych, Ade Turner or Bevan Craddock and the © Chasewater Wildlife Group 2002/3/4