Lafarge Tarmac, Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) and Hertfordshire County Council are delighted to announce that the new Dragonfly and Duck Trail at Panshanger Park will be open to the public on 13th December 2014.

The 185 metre long trail is in the south east corner of the park – at the eastern end of Osprey Lake – within the environmentally sensitive nature reserve area of the site.  It can be accessed from the east via the public footpath alongside the A414 and from the Thieves Lane car park.

The project has been part-funded by Natural England and forms part of a three year, landscape-scale project – involving partners and improvement works across the whole of the River Lea catchment area – from Luton to London.

Chris Gordon from Natural England says,
We are delighted to be part of such an imaginative project that will allow local people to enjoy seeing some of the very special wildlife that visits the park, without causing disturbance".

The newly constructed trail will provide visitors with a new opportunity to view the wildlife at Osprey Lake – and next summer will give them close-up views of the dragonflies which live in the adjacent wetlands.

Jennifer Gilbert, Panshanger Park People & Wildlife Officer says,
“It’s always a challenge to find ways in which people can see and enjoy wildlife without disturbing the very same fragile habitats and sensitive species they have come to see.

“The solution we have found for the Dragonfly and Duck Trail is to create a screened viewing area, which means visitors will be able to enjoy fantastic views across Osprey Lake. 

“At this time of year, the main wildlife interest will be the flocks of overwintering birds that have flown south to enjoy the warmer climes of Panshanger Park – including gadwall, shoveler and tufted ducks. With great views of the reedbeds, there’s even a chance that someone may spot a skulking bittern, one of our rarest winter visitors.

“In summer, the focus will be the darting delights of dragonflies.  18 of the 19 species of dragonflies and damselflies found in Hertfordshire will indulge in their complex life cycles – feeding, courting and laying eggs which turn into carnivorous nymphs, before eventually transforming into beautiful flying insects – which will feed and breed and start the cycle all over again.

“The path has been opened now so visitors can start to enjoy the overwintering birds as soon as possible". 

Mike Pendock, Estates Manager for Lafarge Tarmac adds,
“We have had to take our time to identify the most effective way of accommodating both people and wildlife and we believe this screened viewing area is the most appropriate, sustainable solution.

“This new path will allow members of the public access to the heart of the park, through the very middle of the nature reserve.  However, we would ask visitors to respect the sensitivity of the entire nature reserve area – to keep their dogs on leads at all times and out of the ponds, not to pick wild vegetation and not to leave litter.

“Identification boards will help our visitors put names to the different types of birds and dragonflies.  Over time, we will install further interpretation boards and we hope visitors will be both informed and excited by their new insight into these creatures and their habitats”.

Morris Bright, Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning at Hertfordshire County Council says,
“We are really pleased that more of this wonderful park is becoming accessible to the public and that this project continues to move in the right direction”.