BIRDS ON THAMES RESERVOIRS

Now that every large town and many small ones are adding new reservoirs, often of great size, to hold their water supply, these artificial lakes play an important and increasing part in the wild life, not only of the country, but of cities, and even of London itself. Immense reservoirs have been made near Staines, and others are being added close to the London river. These quiet sheets of water, carefully protected from intrusion for fear of any pollution of the water, form artificial sanctuaries which not only fill with fish, which the water companies encourage, to eat the weeds and insects bred in the weeds, but attract wild-fowl of very many kinds in ever-increasing numbers. In Hertfordshire the artificial lakes near Tring made to supply the Grand Junction Canal are carefully preserved, and have a large and resident population of wild-fowl (we believe a bittern bred there recently, and the great crested grebe is common), and some of the new London reservoirs are rapidly attracting a stock of wild-fowl. Thus civilisation is in some measure restoring the balance of wild life, and offers to the most persecuted of our birds a quiet and secure retreat. I was able at the close of February, 1902, to witness a striking example of the results of wild-bird protection in increasing some species of wild-fowl which for half a century had steadily dwindled and disappeared, and were practically unknown anywhere in the neighbourhood of London. The scene was on the very large new reservoirs which lie between the grounds of the Ranelagh Club and the Thames, on what was some seven years ago a tract of market gardens and meadows. The construction of these lakes was so ably planned and carried out that in two years from the turning of the first sod four wide pools, covering in all one hundred acres of ground, were ready to be filled, and at the end of 1898 the ground was metamorphosed into the largest area of water in the London district, with the exception of the Serpentine.