A ‘normal’ Wednesday morning would see a small group of volunteers ‘The Wednesday Gang’ meet at the reserve but today, instead, I’m sitting in front of my laptop puzzling how to make lock-down interesting.
Before lockdown we had finished all the woodland maintenance and hedging, even re built two dead-hedges that were washed away during the floods of early February when a large area of the reserve and surrounding land was under water. The words wallowing and glorious mud came to mind as we worked to repair the hedges . . . . in fact I think someone broke into song !
As the lock down progressed the reserve, riverside and canal all became very popular as an easily accessible, attractive and interesting place for people to take their daily walks, runs and bike rides, the footfall increased considerably and I did not visit very often.
The whole reserve is flourishing during this sunny warm time with all the usual early flowers, perhaps only in my imagination, being better, brighter and more abundant than ever before. Celandines, wood anemones, violets, primroses, cowslips, garlic mustard all adding vibrant colour to the woodland floor in their turn, but now as the leaf buds on the trees are bursting open the bluebells, red campion and ransoms ring the changes below the developing canopy. The lords and ladies nestle in the hedge bottoms and the fallen catkins from the trees collect on the paths like a furry grey rug. The river is quite low after nearly a month without rain but the riverside vegetation is flourishing as cow parsley, fringe cups, ransoms, white dead nettle come into bloom amongst the ground ivy, dropwort, nettles and seedling balsam etc.
The warm April sun has brought many butterflies peacock, comma, Tortoise shell, whites small, large and veined, brimstone, orange tip, and last week speckled wood and a couple of large red damselflies were spotted by the large pond. Despite all the extra visitors the roe deer have, several times, been seen on our side of the river around the large pond area, something I just missed seeing.
Even if they cannot easily be seen anymore in the increasing leaf cover the birds are singing a constant chorus during the beautiful spring days, adding to the enjoyment for so many of the visitors coming to the reserve. Canada geese, mallard, mandarin, goosander and moorhen are regularly seen on site and the occasional kingfisher may be seen, a jewel like flash as it flies by, or for the lucky, perched on a branch as it fishes.
And lastly, for regular visitors to Denso an old friend has fallen, the old split willow by the small bridge on the riverside path has come down spreading enormous branches on the ground, fortunately away from any paths. But, being a tenacious old tree I’m sure it will put down new roots and live on to perhaps be a landmark in the future.
If it is possible to make DMNR part of your daily exercise, when you get to the gate on the Otley Road just take a moment to look to your right at the magnificent horse chestnut trees which are full blossom as I write