Tuesday 26 January 2016

Otterly fab

It has been a pretty hellish year or so work-wise due mainly to one big issue that is rolling on and on. Today, a meeting at Staveley, followed by a walk round the Trust's nature reserve adjacent to the village with colleagues and local volunteers, reminded why I do this job, and despite what some people think, the Trust (collectively the staff, vols, members and funders) is doing some great stuff for Yorkshire's wildlife.

What a cracking site Staveley is. The Trust had just bought a major extension when I arrived in 2010 and five years on, it looks brilliant. The big central meadow which has been reverted to a wildflower meadow looked cracking, and the wet grassland, reedbeds and scrapes around the new extension teemed with wildfowl and waders. The passion from the local guys gushed and we spent a happy couple of hours discussing the wildlife of the site as we walked round.

Highlights were a dog Otter which was busy fishing for fry (and one small Eel) in the eastern lagoon for about thirty minutes allowing great views. Sadly, my pics were not great. All the ducks were staying away but a couple of Mute Swans seemed quite interested and followed it around. This has to be one of the most reliable places to see Otters in Yorkshire. Later on, we looked at a trail the Otters have made where they cross from the lagoon into a drain and then over into the west lagoon. There was spraint deposited and I couldn't resist a sniff! A definite bouquet of Sweet Vernal Grass....Nearby, I heard a Water Rail and saw a Ruff flying about with the Lapwings. Also, c100 Wigeon counted, three Goldeneye and quite a lot of other wildfowl.

If the Trust hadn't raised the money (from HLF) to buy Staveley it could have been landfilled or turned into a jet skiing centre which would have been a tragedy and caused much damage to the original reserve. As it is, it is now a brilliant wildlife site and will be protected in perpetuity.

 Otter between two Mute Swans.

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