HDNS Recording Area Walk – 27th January 2015
Colin’s shaggy-dog stories came thick and fast as the fourteen of us walked from Ripon’s North Bridge up the River Ure on a dry and intermittently sunny morning. As usual Colin proved a canny observer when he rescued a torpid Great-crested Newt from a drain and deposited it in a place of safety.
He next took us to the HBC nature reserve at Little Studley, where Teal and Mallard were seen but the Snipe for which the reserve is noted were unfortunately not in evidence. As we left, a passing Sparrowhawk elicited alarm calls from a number of small birds.
Colin showed us the ruins of some bathing cubicles on the riverbank but it was difficult to envisage on a cold winter’s day how anyone could ever have enjoyed taking a dip in the murky and fast flowing waters.
Our next port of call was the YWT reserve called The Loop, where the river takes a huge meander, threatening to break through and undergo yet another of its many historical changes of course. Reaching the reserve required climbing over several fences and gates, which proved a great trial for some of the old crocks amongst us. We ate our lunch seated rather uncomfortably on an old bowser then proceeded upriver, where the reluctant sun illuminated the Hazel catkins and Silver Birches in spectacular fashion.
Whilst walking along the river, Colin found a muddy bank where he was able to show us the difference between footprints of Otter, Badger and Mink, all of which were imprinted in the same short stretch of mud.
Colin next pointed out the outcrops of gypsum (cause of many a house subsidence in Ripon) on the cliffs overhanging the Ure. After further fence climbing we finally arrived at High Batts Nature Reserve, where carpets of Snowdrops were in full bloom and giving promise of spring.
Our walk had taken us through the Ripon Parks SSSI, an area of wet woodland and watery meadows bounded bythe spectacular River Ure and its floodplain. Highlights of the walk were two large flocks of Curlew, numbering perhaps 300 birds, several Buzzards and a Hare which sprang from its form in the grass at our feet.
Many thanks, Colin, for an entertaining and informative day.
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