Anton Crescent Wetlands is used as a Flood Storage Wash by the Environment Agency for the Pyl Brook. As such, there is currently no formal public access, although visits can be arranged by contacting the Biodiversity Team.
The main features on site are the open water, willow carr and reedbed. The underlying Oxford Clay ensures that the pond holds water in even the driest summers, as well as the carr and reed area. Because of the underlying clay, the small meadow area on the south slope is neutral grassland. Although less species rich than other meadows in Sutton (especially those on the chalk to the south), there are still plenty of interesting plants and animals associated with the grassland.
At just about 1.5 ha, Anton Crescent Wetland may be small but it does have one of the most dense reedbeds in Sutton. Mix this with open water, willow carr (carr simply means to be within almost permanent standing water) and a small meadow and you have a site with plenty of scope for wildlife.
Wildlife and habitats
The areas of marginal vegetation around the open water and the dense nature of the willow carr root system provides plenty of cover and the small open pools of shallow water and damp mud provide feeding stations for over wintering green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) and common snipe (Gallinago gallinago).
Here you can just about see the characteristic square white rump of the green sandpiper above and the beautifully camouflaged snipe below.
Reedbeds are uncommon in Sutton and London in general. They are a declining habitat within Britain and provide a valuable habitat for many specialist species. They provide a feeding area for many more common species, as well as acting as a filtration system, providing cleaner water after it has slowly trickled through the reed’s root system.
The areas of bramble and the reed bed provide lots of cover and feeding opportunities for small perching birds. House sparrows (Passer domesticus), great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Parus caeruleus) are common all year round. In the winter months, flocks (technically ‘charms’) of gold finch Carduelis carduelis and small family groups of long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) add a lovely sound and sight to the wetland. Thanks to the efforts of local volunteers, we are discovering more and more species that either live on or use the site.
The Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers have been carrying out management work on site since 1989. The main aim of the management work is to halt the natural succession of plants and trees and to maintain the open water areas. Unfortunately, a lack of resources led to under-management of the site for several years, leading to an explosion in the size of the willow carr area and lots of bramble dominating the meadow.
Since 2005, we have taken a far more active role in improving the site for wildlife and use by people and schools. This has involved mowing the rank grassland to remove brambles and coppicing the willow carr area, as well as instigating a rotational cutting regime for the reedbed. Since 2006 we have been laying parts of the hedge that runs along the new boardwalk footpath. This allows views of the site from the top of the meadow, as well as creating a varied habitat structure for plants and animals.