Bye bye buffs - the charismatic water buffaloes have been taken off Thorley Wash Nature Reserve for the winter.

The 'buffs' have done a fantastic job grazing the wetland and improving the habitat for plants, invertebrates and birds. The area is too wet for 'normal' grazing cattle, which would struggle to cope with the wet and muddy conditions on the site. Not only does the grazing help stop scrub and trees from invading the marsh, the buffaloes' hooves also open up miniature pools which can be valuable for a range of wetland insects.

The on-going management of Thorley Wash, a Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust reserve, has definitely paid off - the site is rapidly becoming a hotspot for butterflies. Last month Reserve Officer Jenny Sherwen spotted more than 15 clouded yellows, two painted ladies and one brown argus on one visit alone. It's incredible to think it is only eight months since the restoration work took place!

The buffs will be back in Spring 2014. Let's hope the butterflies will too!

Peacock butterflies on hemp agrimony

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