A first blog from Miriam Lawley, who is the current assistant warden intern, tells us about the survey work she has been conducting.....

As an intern, every day at Middleton Lakes presents something new, from brushcutting on the wetlands, working in the welcome trailer, or more recently, carrying out scientific enquiry. It seemed it was time to put my university degree to use…

The research that was conducted was the project of Matt Ball, one of Middleton’s volunteers. The aim of the study was to find out what macro-invertebrates (big water bugs, to you and me) were supported by the reed beds around the reserve, as well as discover what the quality of the water is.

Tools of the trade

The study involved testing three sample sites at three different reedbeds around the reserve, located at Dosthill, Fisher’s Mill and Reedbed Pool. At each sample site we measured the oxygen content of the water, the water temperature and the water pH. We then carried out a kick-sample, so called as it involves kicking up all the sediment in the water to unearth the invertebrates. Each kick sample was carefully combed through by Matt, and any species of invertebrate were recorded. Thankfully, Matt has an abundance of knowledge on the beasties that can be found in the lakes!

A tray full of kick sampled reedbed water

Matt sifting through the samples

The samples we collected yielded some very interesting results. There was significant variation between samples, even samples at the same site. The invertebrates found were also interesting. There was an abundance of damselfly larva, as well as numerous other insect larvae, which will become important food sources for many of the wetland birds at Middleton. In the Reedbed Pool, many small fry fish were found, however we were unable to identify their species. Similarly, we found very young newts which we could not identify due to their early development stage.

Young newt


Not all of the organisms we found were as cute as the fish and newts however, as we also dredged up aggressive Greater Boatmen and two species of decidedly creepy water scorpions.

Water stick insect - Freddy Kreuger of the water world.

In the run up to the Dosthill reedbed project, the data collected by Matt and myself will establish important baseline information, which will hopefully prove useful in indicating the health of the current reedbeds on the reserve, as well as future ones.