Glen Parva - The Moat & Alison's Acre

The Moat Site is of significant archaeological and historical importance for the local area and is managed in order to enhance the biodiversity of the site. The area provides general informal recreational facilities and links to the Glen Parva Ford and wider footpath networks to Blaby.

Alison's Acre is a small wildlife area next to the river bought and given to the parish by a local family in memory of their daughter who was killed in a road accident.

1 Hamlet of Little Glen
2 Alison's Acre
3 River Sence
4 The Manor
5 Pre-historic Settlement
6 The Moat Land

The Hamlet of Little Glenn

There are records showing that there were 11 householders in the hamlet in 1327 and 14 in 1664. By the 18th Century there were three farms (including the Manor) and they were possibly providing some of the wool for the looms of the framework knitters in Wigston and other villages. The 1802 census recorded a population of 128 and this had risen to 160 by 1831. In the early 20th century only a few houses were left including the Manor House and Glen Ford Grange Farm.

The River Sence

The river was once called the Glene: this name is probably from the Celtic word glano, meaning 'clean' or 'holy'. The name Sence first appears on early maps around 1600. The river rises from two springs in high ground near Billesdon, about 18 miles away to the east, and it drops about 170 metres to the ford in Glen Parva. The fields beside the river often flood after heavy rainfall.

Pre-Historic Settlement

During archaeological excavations in the 1960's, a cobbled area was found beneath the moat island and the field outside the moat. There was also evidence of an oven or kiln and 16 post holes in a roughly circular arrangement. A layer of charcoal above the cobbles suggests that there was once a building there that had burned down. Fragments of pottery collected from this discovery have been dated to the late pre-historic era - 2500 to 3000 years ago!

The Moat

There is no archaeological evidence, not any documents to show when the moat was dug. It is one of about 130 moats in Leicestershire dug between the late 13th century and the early 15th century. The small scale excavations of the moat island in the 1960's uncovered the remains of collapsed mud walls in a roughly rectangular plan, but there was no sign of a substantial building. Pottery fragments near the surface were dated to the 13th and 14th centuries. Some of the moats around manor houses were dug as protection against thieves and to show the importance of the owner. Others protected food sources like rabbit warrens, or orchards or were used as fishponds.

The post in the centre of the island is said to have been put up by Joseph Knight who occupied the manor house in the 1860's but nobody knows why it is there.

The field beside the moat contains more than 50 species of wild flowers and grasses and 14 of these are know to grow in old pastures, so they may not have been disturbed for hundreds of years. The clumps of bushes and trees provide habitats for wildlife. The two low broad ridges from the lane to the moat may mark the sites of old buildings. The field lies on a natural terrace a metre or so above the banks of the Sence which sometimes floods part of the moat and occasionally floods the whole site.

Details from the Glen Parva Parish Council - click here to see all the information plus pictures.


A good place to see bats
How about this for a luxury hotel


Species List - Wildlife at The Moat & Alison's Acre

If you see anything you think is wrongly identified please let me know - many thanks

Please send pictures to
All photo's are taken on the reserve
Species information gathered from various sources.

If you hover over a picture on the left you should see an enlarged image


Common Frog (spawn) - Rana temporaria
John F March 2017

The frogspawn that you see floating in ponds is made up of thousands of single eggs, each one having a tiny black tadpole embryo surrounded in jelly.
Frogs lay so many eggs because as they do not look after their young most do not survive to adulthood. From the three thousand eggs that one female lays, only around five will become adult frogs. The rest of the eggs or tadpoles may be eaten by birds, fish, newts, water beetles, dragonflies or simply dry up before hatching.
At first each tadpole embryo will eat the jelly that is around it until it is ready to hatch.

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Bees, Wasps, Ants

Median Wasp - Dolichovespula media
John F Nov 2016 Alison's Acre

The Median Wasp can be distinguished by having 4 yellow spots on the thorax, which is often tinged red, especially in the female. It also has yellow 'tick' marks on its shoulders. The face has a slim black bar. Antennae are yellow at the base. The abdomen often (but not always) has more black than other species with very thin yellow bands.
This European social wasp builds its hanging nest in trees and bushes. The workers collect nectar for themselves to eat but hunt other insects to feed to the queen and to larvae. Like most wasps, only the queens survive the winter to start up new colonies in the spring. It only arrived in England in the 1980s and is slowly expanding its range northwards and becoming more common. It has now been recorded over the border in Scotland.


Red-legged Shieldbug - Pentatoma rufipes
Malcolm 2019 Alison's Acre

A large brown shieldbug which has orange legs and slightly hooked projections at the front of the pronotum. The pale spot at the tip of the scutellum varies from orange to cream. This species overwinters as young nymphs, which feed mainly on oak. Alder, hazel and other decidous trees are also used, including apple and cherry. Adults are partly predatory, feeding on caterpillars and other insects as well as fruits. New adults may be found from July onwards, surviving until the late autumn, and eggs are laid in August. Adults can sometimes be found in the early spring, suggesting that a secondary breeding cycle may be possible. Widespread and common across Britain in wooded areas, orchards and gardens.

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Blackbird - Turdus merula
Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Carrion Crow - Corvus corone
Chaffinch M&F - Fringilla coelebs
Dunnock - Prunella modularis
Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Great Tit - Parus major
Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris
Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis
House Martin - Delichon urbica
Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus
Magpie - Pica pica
Pied Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Sandmartin - Riparia riparia
Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava

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Flies, Gnats and Midges

Muscid Fly (female) - Graphomya maculata
John F Nov 2016 Alison's Acre

If there was any doubt as to whether any of the UK's Diptera were not well marked, then this common Muscid fly should dispell any thoughts. A fairly large and distinctive species, Graphomya maculata is often found in damp areas and is generally common.

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Fungi & Lichen

Oyster Mushroom - Pleurotus cornucopiae
John F Nov 2016 The Moat

So variable in size, shape and colour are the many kinds of oyster mushroom that confident identification of some species is tricky without resorting to microscopic analysis. The process is not helped by the fruiting habit of many Pleurotus species that seem to delight in emerging beyond reach, sometimes high up in the crowns of trees.
For the most part the various oyster mushrooms are saprophytic on deciduous trees, and only very rarely are they found on conifers.
Several similar species within the Pleurotus genus are often confused, and so distribution data for individual species in this complex group are inevitably subject to some uncertainty.

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Drone Fly - Eristalis tenax
John F Nov 2016 Alison's Acre

The larva of the Drone Fly is a rat-tailed maggot. It lives in drainage ditches, pools around manure piles, sewage, and similar places containing water badly polluted with organic matter. The larva likely feeds on the abundant bacteria living in these places.
The adult fly that emerges from the pupa is harmless. It looks somewhat like a drone honey bee, and likely gains some degree of protection from this resemblance to a stinging insect. The adults are called drone flies because of this resemblance.
Like other hover flies, they are common visitors to flowers, especially in late summer and autumn, and can be significant pollinators.
Tapered Drone Fly - Eristalis pertinax
John F Nov 2016 Alison's Acre

Whilst similar to E. tenax, this species has a more tapering abdomen in the male and it also has pale front legs. The pair of orange markings on tergite 2 of the abdomen are nearly always present, but tend to be brighter in summer specimens.
Found between March and November, with peaks in May and August.


Grey squirrel - Sciurus carolinensis
Mole - Talpa europaea
Muntjac Deer - Muntiacus reevesi

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