Westbere is a small village in Kent between Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet. The village is a preservation area that overlooks Westbere lakes (created by gravel extraction) that teem with birds, and are used by The King’s School for Rowing and Sailing.
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve lies in the valley of the Great Stour river, between Westbere and Grove Ferry, in the county of Kent, and forms part of the extensive Stodmarsh SSSI. area that includes the adjacent Westbere Marshes.
The reserve consists of a number of different habitats that are important for wildlife:
– A large area of open water at Stodmarsh
– Flooded Gravel pits at Westbere
– Extensive reedbeds
– Alder woodland and carr
– Water meadows and rough grazing at Grove Ferry
Stodmarsh is designated as one of only 35 “Spotlight Reserves” in England by Natural England in the list of National Nature Reserves in England. This is not strictly speaking a “natural” habitat – the area around Grove Ferry has been restored to wetland habitat by English Nature (now Natural England) and the areas of open water came about as a result of the flooding of areas used for gravel extraction or undermined by mining subsidence.
The Reserve may be visited either from Stodmarsh village (grid ref TR220606) on the South-west side (where there is a car park), or from Grove Ferry in the North-east. The Stour Valley Walk passes through the reserve, which may be visited at any time.
The Stodmarsh NNR and the area around Grove Ferry have become famous for attracting rare and endangered bird species. A species list can be found on the website of the Kent Ornithological Society.
The Stodmarsh NNR now forms a central and ecologically important feature in the Kentish Stour Countryside Project and is an important site for the protection and encouragement of critically endangered aquatic mammal species such as the Otter and the Water Vole.