Lower Derwent Valley

The one about a wonderful wild wetland landscape just 10 miles from York

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#30DaysWild day 18

Yesterday after a family Father’sDay brunch in York, I was spared for a couple of hours for some ‘me time’. I jumped on a no.18 bus out to Wheldrake Ings, part of the Lower Derwent Valley nature reserve. This place, apart from being a beautiful landscape of wide open skies and expansive lowland floodplain meadows, is bristling with wildlife designations. It is known for its bird life and its botanical riches among many things.

The Lower Derwent Valley, or LDV to its friends, taking in both the River Derwent and its seasonal washlands includes the following conservation labels:

  • NNR – National Nature Reserve,
  • SAC – Special Area of Conservation,
  • SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest,
  • SPA – Special Protection Area for birds,
  • Ramsar site – wetland of international importance.

All in all it is a pretty important place for nature conservation. LDV is famed for its flower-rich hay meadows in spring and summer, managed traditionally for centuries without artificial fertilisers; for its winter floods (hence ‘Ings’ or ‘Washes’) when the Yorkshire Derwent naturally spills onto the floodplain, attracting winter flocks of geese, swans, ducks and waders in prodigious numbers; and for its spring time damp grassland habitats for breeding waders, such as Lapwing, Curlew and Snipe. It certainly is known well to the birders of nearby York and can offer wildlife incredible spectacles at several key times of year.

There are hides overlooking parts of the reserve and I visited one of these for respite fro my the hot sun as much as anything else. The slight cross-breeze achieved by opening all the slim windows of the hide was welcome, if inadequate… I was very warm and happy enough to stay put even though the reserve is huge and can be visited from several distinct access points. Try ‘Bank Island’ where I was. The Natural England LDV team are based here and there is a car park, picnic tables and some interpretation outside the sedum-roofed building. Managing and monitoring the reserve is a full time occupation for staff and a team of skilled volunteers. The team keep a fascinating blog themselves about their work, including bird ringing, habitat management, livestock grazing, botanical surveys, education work etc. It is well worth following.

http://ldvnnr.blogspot.com/

Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. Always aspiring to be a better naturalist, but I have a particular thing for wetlands. As a gardener I enjoy having my hands in the earth, and getting the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost! As a Daddy I'm somewhere between pretty good and awesome. On a good day. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

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