Urswick Tarn is a designated County Wildlife Site, a designation once well-deserved as the tarn was home or winter lodgings for a wide variety of water fowl.  Sadly, no more.  In other 'Picture of the Month' pages on this website reference has been made to the dramatic decline in Coot, this to the point where they are very rarely seen on the tarn despite their continuing presence on nearby and significantly smaller bodies of water, and despite their once very large numbers on this tarn going back in recorded history.  This loss of population has progressively spread to almost all species other than Mallard, a single family of Mute Swan, visiting Cormorant and Sea gulls making short term visits from the nearby peninsula coast.  So the apparent beauty of the above aquatic rural scene in reality is a worrisome scene of lost nature, the reason for which is not yet completely understood but is the subject of research pursuing several lines of enquiry.  The adverse impact of man on the tarn's former surrounding habitat has been significant, in places reducing what were dense beds of Phragmites australis reeds to the appearance of the stripped-back, stone and concrete constructed edge of a municipal park lake; presumed possession apparently being seen as a right to usurp the long evolution of nature around this rare marl tarn; quite possibly without knowing that this is a marl tarn, what marl is, or that it is rare and special.  If there is to be any chance of recovery, much greater care is called for and acts of destruction confronted by the local community who are in the exceptionally privileged position of owning this rare gem of a tarn, via their Parish Council.  Bad news about the water fowl?  Yes, but it is also getting beyond living memory since a water vole was seen around the tarn.  In reality it is bad news about the tarn's entire ecology.  Designations mean nothing when there is a deficit of care.  The opportunity for pride in ownership, instead so easily wraps the mantle of shame.

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