End of April/early May see’s the ransoms (wild garlic) at its peak. This photo was taken in 2007, I don’t think this part of the reserve has changed so much in 13yrs?
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!
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.
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?
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 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, www.farmingandwildlife.net. 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!
We have had a good number of visitors attending, on the 16th June I hosted the Burley walking group, timed to coincide with peak orchid time.
Steve Peel hosted another 30 for the Bradford Countryside walk on 12th June and we had about 12 for the WNS walk on 11 June despite the threat of rain which never really materialised. Thanks to Ian, Frank, Adam and Brian who attend the work group on the 8th. Ian and Adam did a great job mending the old bench. Talk to Brad Ornith Group on 4th.
Has been great to share the results of everyone’s hard work with them all these visitors!
Wildlife highlights included a kingfisher on the lagoon – right on cue for the Nats walk with most people seeing it and our first Bee orchid for c15yrs! Its right by the path – have put some canes next to it so you will easily spot it. It was funny because I had just said to everyone that one of the delights of the reserve was the “occasionals” ie those things that seem to appear and then disappear. I stopped to point out where the musk mallow used to be and John said to me have you stopped here for the bee orchid? .. what bee orchid I asked .. there it was right at my feet.
The southern marsh/common spotted orchids whilst well down on the last 4yrs are at their peak now – estimate c150 plus some large areas of ragged robin.
In the mini meadow, the yellow rattle is thriving particularly where we have fenced it off. I have also spotted a couple of flowers that I didn’t recognise that I will try and ID have a small patch of stonecrop again something we haven’t seen for a few years. No sign (yet) of any broad-leaved helleborine – and on the anglers pond I spotted a few shoots of marsh fern coming through – it’s a relief as I thought we had lost it (We will need to take out some tree branches in the winter as think they are been shaded out)
The anglers have also created floating islands (largely for benefit of fish fry) and covering areas of yellow water lily in attempt to control it (Google earth was updated last year and you will see how extensive it still is)
Birding highlights – goosander and young (last bank holiday) c12 house martins visiting nest holes (today), blackcaps and chiffchaff/willow warbler feeding young (today) regular kingfisher sightings, lots of young blue/great/long tails and wrens, young moorhen on lagoon.
Butterflies – very quiet due to weather and the spring floods? – 1 speckled wood, orange tips and today a painted lady feeding on cow parsley at the east end of the reserve- (which made me think we should sow some seeds on the main site)
Cinnabar moth, banded demoiselle and plenty of damsels
We made further good progress on the willow hide screen but still have a fair bit to do to make it effective, once complete we can cut some viewing slots. Rachel and Isobel planted up some wood anemones and Ian and his friend Mike (joined us for the first time from friends of Ilkley Moor) moved the rest of the woodbark
The previous Monday I met up with Mark Surgue and his wife who donated money for the bench to WNS/Open Country. They really enjoyed been shown around and he remarked that his granddad would have loved the spot. By coincidence, Brian was also down there. We were hopeful of seeing nesting kingfishers – Jeff Davitt had seen a pair at a hole 20yds upstream from the old bench. With a pair of binoculars, you can see droppings from the male where it perched on the bank adjacent to the hole. We had no luck so maybe its had a change of heart but there were 10 or so sand martins, treecreeper, mandarins (nesting locally?) and a barn owl over the anglers pond ( Denton Hall bird?) – a first record I know of in past 10+yrs
A big thank you to Ian, Brian, Mick, Katie and Diane from the WNS BRGP workgroup who joined me, Chris and his team from Open Country on Sat 22 March. With 19 of us in total, it was our biggest session ever! Everything went to plan starting with the delivery of a ton of gravel for the paths, a large delivery of the wood bark from the council and of course the new bench. It was a massive effort to barrow the gravel the 600m to the muddy part of the path, We were able to get the bark tipped by the old road gate – a little closer but not much.
The bench is in a great location looking across the river and it will be really appreciated by visitors especially those who struggle to walk far especially as its surrounded by wood bark and approached by a much-improved path.
We also took the opportunity to construct our willow bird hide screen. The verticals of the screen are the living stems of a willow which toppled over about 5yrs ago. We postcreted an additional ash support and ran horizontal wires across the width and then wove in willow whips – which we will add to in the coming weeks. The result will be a dual purpose screen which will allow you to observe the river (and a good spot for otter) or from the other side into a small area of woodland which is popular with scrub warblers.
On a birding theme, Chris put up the last of our bird boxes next to the bench.. without falling out of the tree! We were treated with views of kingfisher, little egret, buzzards, kites and the call of our first returning chiff-chaffs. In preparation for a possible 7.30 am delivery of gravel I was able to get great views of a pair of bullfinches and 3 redwing.
We were joined for the day by a journalist from Dalesman writing a piece on Open Country who really spent a lot of time getting to know the group.
Lastly, the day wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the generous donation of a local man who asked for a bench to be dedicated to his grandfather who sadly passed away a few months ago. Am sure he like many others will really appreciate this special bench in this very special place, happy memories for us all!
A great turn out for the work group yesterday despite the weather! After sitting out heavy rains in our cars for 30mins, it was worth the wait, a glorious morning unfolded with bright sunshine. It was quiet on the wildlife front- Diane found a toad when planting some more alder buckthorn and I had good views of a treecreeper in the new glades but with the river in flood and strong winds it was bound to be quiet. The ransoms are now 4 inches tall following the very warm Feb and even the balsam is shooting! We continued to make good progress clearing hawthorn and tried some round up on the stumps for the first time. We tidied up the brash and now have some tidy woodpile habitats (see pic) . More bramble and path verge clearance, making scrapes in the North Lawn
and planting of odd ash/hawthorn/holly/buckthorn. We also put up new “permissive path” signs at the informal entrance at the Manor Row end (see pic) Thanks to everyone for their hard work and those that took wildflower seeds to plant up at home. Steve