We were a small party of 9 plus 2 guests (Sue and Jean who had met Alice previously on the reserve). It was nice to have Robert's company again after a period of absence. The weather was fine but cool. We were met at the gate by Steve Warrilow the warden. Steve established the reserve twenty years ago on land belonging to the Denso Marston factory and which is adjacent to the River Aire. He was initially brought in as a landscape gardener but soon realized its potential as a haven for birds, his life time passion; and he started to create a habitat to their liking.
The reserve which is entirely man made consisting of mixed woodland, ponds, hedgerows and grassland areas was looking picturesque with a profusion of blossom, fresh green leaves and pristine flora. A tremendous amount of work has been completed – tree planting, hedge laying, pond creation and dry stone walling in the creation of a habitat for all to enjoy. The reserve has developed a strong educational role with visiting groups of children and adults.
The reserve supports a great variety species of fauna and flora. Fifteen bird species were recorded on the day; on the river Goosander (male and female), Jay and Mallard. A heron was seen flying over the reserve. In the woodland we saw and heard great tit, Blue tit, Coal tit and Blackcap. On the ponds a Moorhen was viewed. The several of the shrubs and trees were in leaf and flower, notably blackthorn and cherry. Our highlight species of the day was Field Maple with its upright clusters of small green flowers and leaves cut into five lobes. The ground flora was very varied consisting of primrose, cowslip, false oxlip, wood anemone, dog violet, white dead-nettle, ramsons, bluebell, yellow archangel, water avens and cuckoo flower.
The reserve,since its inception, has recorded 25 species of butterfly including the White-letter Hairstreak. Numerous bumble bees were seen feeding on nectar. There are an abundance of small mammals to be found under the boards scattered around the reserve. Another innovative feature was the use of dog hair (in particular the hair of a volunteer’s husky dog) which was placed inside a milk carton which was hung on the bird feeder stand and used by a blue tit. Numerous nest boxes were in situ and the birds are building nests for their eggs at present.
We made use of the facilities of the education centre for lunch. Subsequently some members departed whilst a group of 6 led by Vera made a short walk over the river and canal into Buck Wood returning before the rain increased.
Thanks go to Steve for showing us the reserve and for his enthusiastic and informative account. Also to Vera and Alice for making the arrangements for our visit and leadership on the day.
See photos here.