A balmy, calm day with sunny spells, I start the stage at Wansford. I have a foray around the village, and walk along Nafferton Beck, one of the tributaries of the river Hull. A couple of Grey Wagtails fly off, one of them singing from a roof. On the lake at Mill Farm, a large flock of Wigeon takes off. There are also Little Grebes, Little Egrets, Cormorants and Greylag. I return to the bridge over the river Hull (called West Beck here) and enter Snakeholme Pastures, a small YWT nature reserve comprising a couple of fields by the river Hull. A Kestrel flies ahead of me.
The river has clear water over the chalk, with a lot of marginal vegetation and plenty of aquatic vegetation and occasional willows and elder on the banks. The flow of water is faster than downstream and the river crosses 5 m altitude contour line in this stage and the banks don't appear to have been artificially embanked, although dredging has taken place until recently. In a deep pool with a gravelly bottom I watch a group of Grayling, lazily swimming in the current. Later I see a large Brown Trout on the edge of the stream.
I surprise a Barn Owl sitting on a large hole of a dead tree, but I am too slow to take a photo before it flies away. The river meanders and so do I following it, trying to stay close to it. A Kingfisher calls coming downstream and turns swiftly over as it spots me.
As noon approaches, the sunny spells become longer and I heard the mewing of some Buzzards that have started soaring. Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws fly up to ride the rising air with some gulls too.
As the temperature also rises, many adult Caddis fly and there are active Common Darters, with a mating pair. Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals and Small Whites are on the wing.
Snakeholm Pastures joins Copper Hall and Skerne Wetlands in a large protected area lining the east side of the river. There is evidence of some work to improve the river margins, reducing erosion, but the section in the farm with Galloway cattle is almost bare in the river bank.
On the way back a couple of Jays fly into an oak in a small copse by the path. I saw a total of 55 birds during the stage. Altogether, a beautiful, wildlife-rich stretch of river.
Nafferton Beck at Mill Farm.
The lake at Mill Farm.
The entrance of Snakeholme Meadows.
View of Wansford Bridge over the River Hull.
A wobbly bridge over the river.
A group of Grayling
And my best shot of one of the Grayling showing the large, colourful dorsal fin.
I sneaked close to this Brown Trout, which was swimming close to the bank.
Mute Swan flyover
An impressive Ash tree on Copper Hall farm.
Snakeholm Pastures. YWT website here.
Skerne Wetlands. YWT website here.
Interview with Jon Traill, the site manager of Skerne Wetlands.