The largest College lake, Swan Lake, supports a wonderful variety of wildlife. A number of species of wildfowl spend time here during the winter, including Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Goosander, and sometimes Kingfishers can be seen flashing past. Every spring the resident pair of Canada Geese raise their gorgeous goslings. Grey Wagtails nest in the banks, and can be seen performing stunning aerobatic displays above the water to catch insects. Water-loving Alder trees grow on the banks and support Alder Leaf Beetles. These beautiful beetles were thought to be extinct in Britain, so it’s great news to see them thriving here.
There are also some non-native inhabitants of Swan Lake. The resident Red-eared Terrapins can often be seen sunbathing, and there are also Signal Crayfish, which are, unfortunately, a very predatory, invasive and destructive species, so these are trapped and removed under licence from the Environment Agency.
There are many other ponds around the site, providing a wealth of different habitats for water-loving wildlife. Mallards and Moorhens raise their young in peace at the swamp-like pond in the woods by Eagle House School. The golf course ponds are particularly rich in insect-life, including aquatic Small China-mark and Brown China-mark moths.
There is also a strong amphibian population in many of the ponds, including at least two of the three British species of newt: the Smooth (or Common) newt and the Palmate Newt, which is named for its webbed back feet. Several species of damselfly and dragonfly live in many of our ponds as larvae for between one and four years before emerging as adults for only a few weeks or months.