RESTORATION work is to take place at a Herefordshire National Trust estate to combat a drop in the number of herons there.

Berrington Hall, a National Trust property near Leominster in Herefordshire, is about to undertake vital restoration work to their 16-acre pool, thanks to funding awarded from National Highways under the Environment and Wellbeing Designated Fund.

The pool is a key feature of the parkland at Berrington and was originally designed by prolific landscape architect, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

The herons that live there are magnificent birds, whose long neck and large wingspan make them an eye-catching sight.

The pool, parkland and garden make up Brown’s final complete estate before his death in 1783.

Over 200 years later, the pool is now a haven for wildlife and visitors alike; it is a Site of Special Interest (SSSI) due to the large heronry which nests on its island every year.

It is one of only two heronries in Herefordshire and the largest in the West Midlands, but population numbers have been falling.

The 16 acre pool was designed by Capability Brown. Picture National Trust images- Eleanor Dobson


The 16-acre pool was designed by Capability Brown (Picture: National Trust images- Eleanor Dobson)

The pool is now in urgent need of restoration.

Part of the need for work is that large carp have become the dominant fish species found within the pool and their bottom feeding nature continues to make the water cloudy.

Very few smaller fish species are believed to remain in the pool, which may be impacting the on-site heronry for which population numbers have sadly declined over the last 10 years.

Countryside manager Iain Carter said: “The biodiversity of the pool has been adversely affected over the years due to the spread of reed cover and an increase in the silt bed.

"It is therefore vital that we intervene now to ensure the survival of the SSSI and the heronry.”

A sensitive woodland management and thinning of trees and shrubs around the pool has already begun, which will provide open canopy and improve water conditions.

An area of woodland known as Moreton Ride and the walk around the lake is closed to visitors until early December to allow this work to take place safely.

The pool at Berrington is an SSSI due to its large heronry. Picture: National Trust images- Hugh Mothersole

The pool at Berrington is an SSSI due to it's large heronry. (Picture: National Trust images, Hugh Mothersole)

From October 11, a specialist team will re-home the carp and restock the pool with a native mix of smaller fish to support biodiversity and the heronry.

Crucial de-silting works and reed clearance will take place once the pool has been drained and whilst the fish are absent.

Any collapsed trees or trees that are causing damage to the dam will also be removed.

Ana Vaughan, the experience and visitor programming manager at Berrington Hall, said: "The restoration will be of huge benefit to the wildlife and nature surrounding the pool.

"Capability Brown was first commissioned to do the work in 1775.

"It's very important from a heritage aspect, due to it's age and the fact it was Brown's last completed work.

Picture: National Trust images- John Millar

Some work has already started at the estate. (Picture: National Trust images, John Millar)

The project will see the historic pool restored and the heronry and SSSI supported for many years to come.

Aquatic diversity will be enhanced, views restored and water quality improved through effective silt and reed control.

The project is set to be completed in December or early January.