Thursday, 18 February 2016
Fancy a walk?
Well, I did, as it was such a lovely morning - warm and spring-like, despite being only half way through February. We've been here before, though you may not remember it. Just off the Leeds ring road, right in the middle of an urban area, it is Rodley Nature Reserve, a managed wetland in the flood plain of the River Aire. From the road, a track passes over a swingbridge on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and then a metal bridge (above) passes over the river into the Reserve.
There's evidence here too, of course, of the devastating Boxing Day floods. The river banks all along the Aire valley are festooned with plastic and rubbish hanging from the trees and bushes, showing how high the water levels rose. There are many 'clean-up' events being organised by volunteers to help restore the waterway, both to make it look better but also to make it safe again for wildlife. The Reserve was badly flooded to a depth of four feet in places (see here for a description) and although it is 'nature' and nature will heal itself, it may cause some wildlife populations to suffer. The winter seed crop for birds was swept away, some of the reedbeds, ponds and hedges were badly damaged and it may have caused harm to invertebrates and rodents: harvest mice in particular. Rather a shame as the wetland, which has been open for about 15 years, had really matured into a lovely and rich habitat.
The birds, of course, many of them migratory, have settled back down, though the best views come earlier in the morning before there are so many people about. I did enjoy seeing this pair of goosanders on the river. Which reminds me... I must finally buy a telephoto lens this year!!