Our most valued asset
In the Parish Plan, the lake was one of the top features that residents
The surrounding grass and scrub area is a wildlife haven with many types of wild flowers, trees and shrubs.
It is used for informal recreation and events such as the Harfest.
There is also the ‘Tractor Park’ (a well-equipped children’s playground), the Skateboard Park, Tennis Courts and the junior football pitch, used for 5-aside.
Millbrook Lake is accessible from the roads to the south and west and has a surfaced path all the way round it.
How the Lake came about
The lake has a freshwater inflow at the western end by the doctor’s surgery and a sluice in the dam prevents the lake from over filling.
Periodically during the summer months the lake is drained by opening the sluice at high tide and allowing water to drain out with the falling tide. This is done to prevent the build-up of midges that have plagued the area in the past. The lake is refilled with saline water by the next incoming tide.
This rapid change in salinity has a detrimental effect on any plants that might establish around the edge of the lake, so there is a lack of emergent and marginal aquatic
However the bankside vegetation is allowed to grow during the summer and this provides nesting sites for wildfowl such as Mallard and Moorhen.
A Heritage Lottery grant secured the future of the Lake
A Heritage Lottery grant of £50,000 enabled the Parish Council to employ contractors to rebuild the island in 2014 using ‘rock mattresses’. These were then covered with soil.
The island is an important roosting and loafing site for the many species of birds that visit the lake
Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Dunlin are all ‘in residence’.
During the autumn and winter months it is the main high water roosting site for all the Redshank that use the creek and sometimes other waders like Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit can be found.
They dive to catch fish and their feathers frequently become waterlogged so they spread them out to dry. It is also thought that it aids digestion.
Gulls come into the lake to bathe and then use the island to preen and dry off. Apart from the usual Herring and Black headed Gulls, both Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are frequently seen and often one or two Mediterranean Gulls are present.
The lake has hosted a number of rare birds including Boneparte’s Gull, Purple Heron and Osprey.
Breeding birds are limited by the lack of marginal vegetation. However Mute Swans regularly nest on the bank near the doctor’s surgery oblivious to the many people and dogs passing within feet of them.
In 2012 another lottery grant enabled a Kingfisher nesting bank to be constructed on the north side of the lake. Although Kingfishers are regularly seen, they have yet to adopt the nesting bank and probably breed somewhere further down the creek.
The northern part of the Lake has been planted with a variety of trees and shrubs. These were added to in 2014 with a tree planting day for local schools.
Children from Millbrook tree planting
On January 22nd 2014, there was a lakeside tree planting ceremony with local children to celebrate of the completion of the Millbrook Community Wildlife Improvement Plan programme by the Millbrook Lake Conservation Group and Millbrook Parish Council.
This area lies to the north of the lake and can be accessed from New Road or from the Lake behind Millbrook Football Club. Formally a landfill site it was closed and capped in the 1970’s.
The large grassy area is used mainly by dog walkers and pick-nickers and has developed a diverse flora making it important for bees and butterflies. In 2015 9 flowering spikes of the rare Bee Orchid were found and Millbrook Parish Council has adopted a grassland management regime that allows some plants to flower and set seed.
Bee Orchid in Millbrook Park
Although this involves regularly cutting the main recreational area, peripheral margins are allowed to grow uncut until late autumn following the first cut in April.
This sees a succession of wild flowers from spring, through summer into the autumn. First to appear are Primroses, Lady’s Smock and Cow Parsley, followed by Meadow Buttercup, Charlock and clovers and vetches.
In late summer, Wild Carrot and Knapweed flowers appear. The profusion of wild flowers makes the area a special one for butterflies.
Orange Tip and Speckled Wood are seen early in the year and in summer Meadow Brown, Ringlet and both Large and Small Skipper can be seen.
Wildflowers in Millbrook Park
Other areas of the park are allowed to grow uncut for several years. This allows a tussocky grass sward to develop which provides overwintering sites for insects and spiders including the Wasp Spider, so called because of its black and yellow colouration.
There is a large area of bramble, another important wildlife habitat, which provides ample fruit for birds and mammals as well as the village foragers.
In 2014 over 100 native trees and shrubs were planted along the eastern boundary to provide a wildlife corridor and screen the football club, thus giving a more rural feel to the area.
Nestboxes have been positioned in the wooded area and are used each year by Blue Tits and Great Tits. There are also boxes designed to attract Tawny Owl, Jackdaw and Starling and House Sparrow.
There is a Community Orchard, mostly apple trees that is tucked away in the corner of the park. There is room to expand the orchard and the Parish Council is planning to plant more trees subject to funding being made available in 2016.