Trip reports

Otley Wetlands

Otley Wetlands
Paul Barrett

Saturday, 18 April 2015

We were delighted to be invited by the Otley Wetland Nature Reserve Trust to visit this 'private access' site on the outskirts of Otley. Peter Riley, the Trust chairman, met 15 of us at the entrance gate before undertaking a two-hour guided walk around the site.
The reserve consists of water areas, recently-planted woodlands and reedbeds, rough grassland and stream edges. It is part of a larger area of complementary uses, including a yachting lake, improved grazing land and mature woodland.
First stop was the wildfowl lake. A number of protected species have made the reserve their home, but we were surprised to see an Egyptian goose grazing near the lake. Tufted ducks, oystercatchers, lapwings, cormorants and Canada geese were all sighted. Sand martins and swallows were swooping over the water areas, heralding the first signs of summer and buzzards were soaring in the distance.
From a small clump of reeds planted, a large area has now grown providing a habitat for visiting migrants including reed warblers, sedge warblers and reed buntings, which all breed on the reserve. A chiff chaff announced its arrival with its distinctive song as it landed in the reedbed before us. Dragonflies and damselflies are also a feature of this site, with 21species recorded, of which 14 have bred.
As we walked past hedgerows and alongside wooded areas, orange tip, small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies were all out in the morning sunshine and the wonderful cascading song of the willow warbler was heard. A pair of blackcaps were singing near the stream and several bumble bees were busy on the reserve. The flora throughout the year includes Common Spotted Orchids, Marsh Orchids and some Bee Orchids, Red Bartsia, Creeping Jenny, Changing Forget-me-not and Gypsywort, but the highlight of the morning was an extensive area of bright yellow cowslips which have mysteriously appeared on a bank near the moat!
The perfume of a balsam poplar tree filled the air as we neared a wooded area before retracing our steps along the River Wharfe.
The site now also hosts toads, frogs, shrews (Common and Water), Bank Vole and Wood Mouse, Noctule and Pipistrelle Bats, stoats, otters passing through and, unfortunately, mink.
Before leaving, we resolved to visit this wonderful reserve again.
Birds seen: red kite, sparrowhawk, tufted duck, cormorant, oystercatcher, Canada goose, black-headed gull, coot, mallard, magpie, buzzard, swan, wood pigeon, lapwing, sand martin, lesser black-backed gull, heron, Egyptian goose, greylag goose, swallow, great tit, blue tit, willow warbler, snipe, blackcap, reed bunting, greenfinch, jay, bullfinch, robin, blackbird, chiff chaff, treecreeper, crow, dunnock, jackdaw.