All posts by Steve Parkes

Small Workgroup 23 June

We had our first small Workgroup on since covid-19 lockdown with new Safe working practices in place agreed with Bradford council. Good views of kingfishers, blackcaps and a sparrowhawk a few sand martins nesting, brimstone, ringlet, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell butterflies,. Froglets on riverside path and toads under metal sheet.. Mini meadow looking great. Orchid decline continues now down to less than 30 due to long dry spells over last few years. Great to see more young families enjoying the reserve only one dog..on a short lead

Workgroup 23 June

Workgroup 30 June

We had another small Workgroup  on 30 June, our focus was to make a 40m stretch of steep and crumbling river cliff safer for our younger visitors. We were able to make a thick “dead hedge” along the bank using the hawthorn we had cut in the winter. Plants will grow through it over time and a family of blackcaps were already exploring it as we left. Birds included singing garden warbler and chiffchaff. At least 4 nesting sandmartin despite how high the river got to to, kingfisher, flock of 20+ long tailed tips, kestrel and 1st view of little egret for a very long time, rather overcast for butterflies but saw ringlets and a nice large skippere

Worgroup 30 June 2020

Careless Dog Walker .. 2 Dead Cygnets

Speaking on behalf of all the volunteers who manage the reserve…

We are distraught about the loss of the last 2 swan cygnets last Wed. We have clear signs up asking owners to keep dogs under control/on a short lead for the protection of breeding birds. We have not heard from the dog’s owner as to why their dog was running off its lead but these are the tragic consequences.

We do hope the swans will breed again next year and if they move onto the reserve will put additional signs up to warn the public of their presence.

We are looking at banning dogs off leads all year round – not just during the nesting bird season for the benefit of wildlife and all visitors. If people fail to comply then we do have the option to ban all dogs completely but hope it won’t get to this.

Dogs running off their leads also risk causing an accident with other vulnerable groups including young children and the elderly. Please let’s work together to make this special place safe for wildlife and people alike!

swan 2

May Highlights

It’s been great to be able to get back down to BRGP and see so many others appreciating their local wildlife. A few wildlife highlights to share, please let us know what you’ve spotted.

Thanks  Steve Parkes

We have had a few sightings of otter and otter spraint. With the water levels so low if you do see one there’s a good chance you will get a good view rather than a head popping out of the water.

Birds We had a decent count of over 50 species in and around the reserve in May, thanks to Steve Amos for these. Whilst we don’t have a sand martin colony opposite the site there are colonies upstream and downstream. The kingfishers have bred with reports of young being fed and a lot of calling. Its been a good breeding year for many birds including blue/great/long tail tits with lots of boxes occupied and family groups. Blackcaps and other warblers are also likely to breed so keep an eye out for juvenile birds. We also have young goldfinches and wrens and maybe 2 pairs of bullfinch ( 1 on the reserve near the glades we cleared 2 years ago and a pair on the angler’s side) it would be great to get a breeding record. Keep an eye out for breeding tree-creepers on the large willows. There have been barn owl sightings but I don’t think there is an egret around may be due to lack of water in the beck opposite.. or maybe in search of a mate?. On the river, you can hear noisy oystercatchers and common sandpipers as well as mandarin ducks and goosander. The common birds also a delight  – the chocolate brown head of black-headed gulls and song thrushes smashing up snails.

bhg low resol
Black-headed gull
song thrush low res
Song thrush
Anvil Ian
Song thrush anvil
Great Tit
Great Tit
Male Bullfinch

Plants The main mini meadow is looking great will be coming to it’s best mid-June with the fencing making all the difference re rabbit protection. The other fenced patches have also had some success Only time will tell how many saplings we planted earlier in the year will survive the drought. The north lawn is now resembling a Caribbean cricket-wicket albeit an uneven one!. Hopefully, the site will get a few heavy showers in June to give the orchids a boost though just as we saw when they were doubling each year it looks like they are halving – so now back down to dozens rather than 100’s. I was pleased to discover quite a few elm saplings towards the far end – some we have planted and others self-seeded, so some hope for white-letter hairstreak.

Mini meadow
Mini meadow

Fish The river has plenty of minnows which are easy to spot and a large fish trout or grayling? jumping. The old ditch has no flow for only the 2nd time ever though there is some water and minnows at the ramson end.


Butterflies /Insects We have had good records of Orange tips and Brimstones from Mark Hockey who goes down most days, 3 male Common Blues and a Large Skipper emerged in the last week of May and are feeding in the mini meadow along with Cinnabar moths. There are also  3 Speckled wood which is a bit disappointing compared to the numbers we used to see. Hope to get some records of Small Copper soon. Also fleeting views of Banded Demoiselles.

common blue low res
Make Common Blue Butterfly
large skipper low res
Large Skipper Butterfly


January Workgroup – meadow restoration and nature trail prep

A great days work for Jan workgroup restoring old meadow area and creating space for the new nature trail. The dense stand of hawthorn produced very few berries and shaded everything else out.. looking forward to seeing the dormant flower seed spring to life.  A big welcome to Sue who joined us for the first time


Quite a decent area cleared over last 2 sessions


Possible new bird feeder post?


Naughty schoolboy Brian – 1 saw cut – 3 trees down!



Otter Family Aug 19

A big thank you to Dave Varney for sharing these photos with us.  We have what appears to be a family group, a mother and 2 youngsters though it’s difficult to see any size difference between them?  There is however a sad ending, these photos were taken on Aug 20th 2019, a few weeks later ( see earlier post) an otter was run over a killed on the road nearby. It’s highly likely it was one of the youngsters here.

Family of otters Aug 19
Family of otters Aug 19
Otter eating a fish
Otter eating a fish
single otter
single otter

November Workgroup – Wildflower planting in the Wet

A big thank you to Brian, Frank, Ian, Isobel, Jonny, Katie, Lucy, Mick, Peter, Rachel and Tom for completing the fenced enclosures and planting out over 150 plants in the expanded mini meadow, sunny bank and riverside path despite the cold and mud, at least it didn’t rain! Additional thanks to Diane and Katie for helping us grow the plants in our back gardens and to Steve Peel for advising on species and locations.  You can see some of them here, see if you can guess what they are?

Plants grown from seed



Wildlife highlights included Little egret around the beck on the opposite bank,  a large flock  of long-tailed tits, a flyover of 8 fieldfare and 2 teal flying upriver


12 Oct Small Mammal Survey and Scout Group

12 Oct small mammals and young people engaging with wildlife and conservation

A very memorable day – with our monthly workgroup coinciding with a small mammal survey run by Ann from the Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife Partnership, plus a visit from a Leeds Scout group from Holbeck/Beeston who were camping at nearby Curly Hill. With 16 scouts, 3 leaders, 12 volunteers and another 10 or so mammal survey people it was our biggest day since our official opening. We set up 50 Longworth traps the night before with food and bedding material. We had a pretty good success rate of 40% (TBC) and found the 4 species we were hoping for – woodmouse, common shrew, field vole and bank vole, but not water shrew. The scouts loved it, after lunch we got them to work, tidying up the bird screen hide with a bit of willow weaving and then coppicing some wood for a team task of making a shelter with a tarp before they walked back to Ilkley. They were a great bunch 50/50 girls/ boys of different backgrounds and experiences and easy to supervise – look forward to hosting more groups in the future!

Releasing a wood mouse
Releasing a wood mouse
Common shrew
Common shrew
Close encounter with a bank vole
Close encounter with a bank vole
Bank Vole
Bank Vole