Discover: Landscapes

La Mare au Seigneur (St Ouen’s Pond)

Immerse yourself in the thriving wildlife and spectacular landscape of La Mare au Seigneur SSI, better known as St Ouen’s Pond, a nature reserve containing an incredible mosaic of wetland habitats including reedbed, fen, wet meadow, dune grassland and the largest area of natural open water in Jersey.

The site is protected as a Site of Special Interest (SSI), reflecting the reserve’s incredible diversity of species and habitats and overall conservation importance. The first record of the pond dates back to 1309. From then up until World War II it was used by the Seigneur of St. Ouen to stock fish, such as carp, and the surrounding land was used as a hunting ground. The Trust acquired its first small parcel of land in this area in 1972. Now, the reserve covers 50 hectares and contains a rich mosaic of wetland habitats.

Walking around the reserve you will see why the site was used as a hunting ground; it is simply bursting with wildlife. From wildflowers to tiny insects, small mammals, green lizards and birds, La Mare au Seigneur presents a fantastic and extremely rare opportunity to view a vast array of wildlife in its natural habitat. With almost 200 bird species recorded at the site in the last ten years, this is an unmissable site for birdwatchers, whether avid or beginner.

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La Mare au Seigneur is also home to the National Trust for Jersey Wetland Centre, which constitutes a state-of-the-art bird hide and wetland interpretation centre, showcasing the reserves incredible wildlife and human history.

In addition to the wildlife, La Mare au Seigneur SSI also contains rare pieces of Jersey’s military history. Anti-tank ditches were constructed to the north and south of the main pond during the occupation of Jersey in World War II and they still remain there to this day. In addition, a German WWII personnel shelter adjoining the Wetland Centre has been restored and converted in to a classroom for visiting school groups.

It’s a fantastic place to watch Marsh Harriers and it has even been argued that the pond is the best place in Britain to see them. Marsh Harriers are normally quite shy birds, often only being glimpsed at distance, but the St Ouen’s harriers are indifferent to the presence of us humans and come very close to the viewing areas. They first bred at the pond in 2001 and are present at the pond throughout the year. The best time of year to see them is either in the spring, when they perform dazzling courtship rituals, or during late afternoons in November, when resident birds are joined by offspring from previous years. During the winter of 2015-2016 35 Marsh Harriers gathered at the Pond to roost.

Things to do and see

There are two bird hides present within the La Mare au Seigneur reserve. One hide is located directly opposite the Discovery Bay Apartments and free public car park on La Grande Route des Mielles and offers views over the reed bed and pond. The other hide is located to the south of the reserve and overlooks the wader scrape. There is no charge to use these hides.

The meadows fringing St. Ouen’s Pond burst into colour at the end of May with over 40,000 blooming orchids. The most spectacular and famous of these meadows is Le Noir Pré. There are five orchid species thriving at this site, the Southern Marsh Orchid, the Pyramidial Orchid, the Common Spotted-Orchid, the Heath Spotted-Orchid and the Jersey (or Loose-Flowered) Orchid (which only grows in Jersey and Guernsey). With stunning views of truly beautiful flowers, Le Noir Pré is a definite must see as one of nature’s most breathtaking natural events.

Grande Route des Mielles, JE4 5RL

There are numerous car parks along the Five Mile Road with the Big Vern’s car park situated directly opposite the Wetlands Centre.

There are toilets and refreshment stops located along the Five Mile Road.

MUST SEE The meadows fringing St. Ouen’s Pond burst into colour at the end of May with over 60,000 blooming orchids. The most spectacular and famous of these meadows is Le Noir Pré, which offers the visitor stunning views of these truly beautiful flowers.