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Hedgecourt Lake is an ancient mill pond resulting from the damming of the upper Eden Brook. Today, at about 800m (½ mile) long, it is the largest body of semi-natural open water in east Surrey.
As a lakeside reserve it contains a typical succession of communities from fringing reedswamp through willow carr and wet alder woodland to damp oak woods with birch and hazel.
Where the ground is waterlogged for much of the year, a fen-type vegetation, rich in damp-loving plants is found. These include marsh-horsetail, yellow loosestrife, reed canary-grass, gypsywort, meadow-sweet and meadow thistle – which is rare in east Surrey.
Towards the lake edge this fen grades into tall marginal vegetation of emergent species forming a fringe round the lake, especially at the western end. Here bladder sedge, water parsnip, yellow flag iris, water mint and water plantain may be found.
Extending into the open water there are single-species stands of reed, reed mace and bulrush, with bog bean and the touch-me-not balsam - a local plant for which this is the only site in Surrey.
Twelve species of dragonflies have been recorded here as well as a variety of other insects.
Due to the variety and undistributed nature of its habitat, the site supports a number of breeding birds. Wetland species include water rail, mute swan, sedge warbler, woodcock, tufted duck and kingfisher.
Management concentrates on maintaining the open area in the eastern part and restricting the willow carr.
Access is via the A264 between Felbridge and Copthorne Road. Park in the layby on the south side of the road and cross over to the entrance. Bus no 324 stops ½ mile away.
Designation : SSSI
Grid reference : TQ 353 403
Habitat : Wetland