Monday, 24 April 2017

Potteric Carr revisited

There has been several years since my last visit to Potteric Carr. Today I took my eight year old daughter for a visit, one of the few Mondays she's been able to come along as her school had a training day. On arrival, I was very impressed with the new visitor centre, full of information panels on the conservation work carried out by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and its repercussions on the wider community. The visitor centre is modern and beautifully placed overlooking a beautiful pond with a wide reedbed fringe. Once the new planting around it is established, this would be a great spot for a picnic while nature watching. My only quibble is that I couldn't find a sightings board if there is one. They do keep a blog with recent sightings, but there is something special, and more immediate, about checking what's been seen on site,
Accessibility is a big plus in the visitor centre and the reserve at large, with ramps for all but two of the 13 hides and several flat, permissive paths.
It is a very large reserve, and it is hard to explore fully in a single visit. There are four way marked trails, some of these quite long. We did a combination of the the Dragonfly Trail and the Wetland Trail. My main aim for the day was to try and see or hear a Bittern, and the extensive reedbeds of the Huxterwell Marsh appeared as a good bet, as it was there where Bitterns were confirmed to have bred at Potteric Carr for the first time in 2014. This success was the result of extensive habitat management to improve and expand reedbeds in the reserve, and culminated a trend set for years before, as the reserve had supported an overwintering population since the 1990s. We visited several hides, and got great views of a male Marsh Harrier being mobbed by Black-headed gulls (top shot). Canada Geese, Greylags and Mallard had downy young, and coots were busy bringing nesting material to their nests. West Scrape hide allowed close views of Oystercatchers, Little Ringed Plovers and feeding Black-tailed godwits. As we were preparing to leave, a small wader flew in on the close bank out of sight. I decided to sit for a little while in case it reappeared and I'm glad I did as a Common Sandpiper appeared on the exposed mud very close to us.
 We finally moved onto Roger Mitchell hide, quite hungry at this stage as we had only brought a few snacks. The view is magnificent: a large expanse of reedbed in between the wetlands surrounded by trees. As we got in, a quick soft booming greeted us. After a long wait, we had a bit more booming, coming from the centre of the reedbed. It was a lifer for me, and although we had no sighting, topped a great day out. We almost raced back to the visitor centre for some well deserved lunch.
A view of the new visitor centre
To add to the interest there is a great collection of carved wooden animal sculptures by the trails. This newt was one of our favourites.
Noon fly, Mesembrina sp. resting on one of the sculptures. 
Frog and lily pad. 
Coot with nest material. 
Ducklings feeding on the mother drain. 
Greylag goslings.
Oystercatcher. 
Black tailed godwit. 

Common Sandpiper. 
Bottoms up! Shelduck, coot and Mallard upending.
A well grown male Nuctenea umbratica spider sits on a corner of a hide window. 
Reeds from which the booming was heard. 
Large Red Damselfly, my first dragonfly of the year. 
Hawthorn blossom. 
Canada geese family by the visitor centre. 
A large unidentified Caddisfly larvae moving at the bottom of a pond, with a case made of leaf pieces. 
Resting canada goslings.

More information
Potteric Carr YWT NR website.
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