Nature Reserve

Swanpool Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve is the jewel in the crown of Swanpool. Consisting of a large expanse of fresh and salt water it is home to vast array of wildlife and easily accessible for everyone. The Nature Reserve is a lovely place to come to view the wildlife, feed the ducks and swans (we sell special waterfowl food at the car park hut), take a relaxed stroll or sit and take in the view on the benches.

Nature Reserve History

When a culvert was built in 1826 between the sea and the fresh water lake at Swanpool to lower its water level, a unique landscape and habitat was created. The lower water level left a marshland area to the north-west through which six freshwater streams meander. It is a small and densely wooded wetland made up of mostly willow and alder that provides shelter for many small birds and mammals. Wet woodland is a rare and valuable type of landscape, especially so in this case as the reeds act as a filter, removing pollutants from the water before it flows into the main pool.

The pool itself, with its unique mix of fresh and salt water became a special and unusual natural habitat playing host to over 100 species of bird including regular visitors like great crested grebe and tufty ducks, siskins and kingfishers, as well as our resident mallards. A good supply of food is provided by the fish and eels that enter the pool through the culvert, the larvae in the mud, and the insects that are harboured in the reed beds at the margins of the pool.

The stars of this ornithological display have always been the swans. They are fiercely territorial and, though the pool used to support many pairs, the current cob and pen guard the lake so ferociously that all incomers, including their offspring, are kept out.

The Swanpool Forum, the committee formed to look after the interests of the area, is taking advice from Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset on how to look after the swans and improve the chances of cygnets in future years reaching maturity.

The pool’s most prized inhabitants are, however, invisible to the naked eye. In the nineties it was discovered that beneath the water lies the trembling sea mat, a group of primitive microscopic animals called bryozoa which live in underwater colonies and thrive at Swanpool on the balance of salt and fresh water. The trembling sea mat is the only one of its kind in Britain, a fact that has led to the pool being given status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Swanpool Nature Reserve has its own website here: