Monday, 8 May 2017

River Hull. Stage 9. Tickton to Leven Canal

A cloudy, but rain free day, with a relentless northerly wind. Glad I had put my winter coat on for the walk today. The walk on the straight stretch of river north of Tickton was bracing, but the company made it much nicer: small groups of Swifts flying upstream over my head, migrating north. Between the grassy bank and the river are small patches of reeds and willows, from where Reed Buntings sang their tuneless song.
On a wide bend on the river is High Eske nature reserve, a large borrow pit where the clay for the river banks was extracted and owned by the Environmental Agency. The lake, which is brackish, is connected to the river by a short canal, allowing the tide to enter it. High Eske is surrounded by thick vegetation on its western side, mainly willows, which even obscure a birdwatching screen. It has two small islands (one of them under water today). On the other island there was a large gathering of Mute Swans, many young from last year and all non breeding individuals, which probably roost in the lake. The trees sheltered me from the wind and I stop by the river side on a muddy edge. There is a rope swing, maybe people come here to swim? There are lots of midges, and a cloud of Swallows and House Martins circle low over the water snapping them up.
 I am at the edge of Pulfin Bog, a reed fen or swamp. This is a YWT nature reserve and SSSI due to it's rare aquatic plants and reed fen. It is not possible to walk along the river around Pulfin Bog due to it's waterlogged terrain and hidden ditches and springs, it is, after all, a real swamp. An drier area of Pulfin Bog, at least today, has access. I surprised a Roe Deer resting near a very large Willow. In the reed bed ahead three belted galloway cattle stare at me from behind their fence. I haven't seen anybody during the walk, and they are probably not used to seeing people.
 I stop for lunch in a sheltered corner on the shore of the lake overlooking the large island. There are many Mute Swans, which look nervous. They start to leave in small parties in the same direction, their wings sounding like fast wind turbines. I've never seen so many swans flying before.
 As I leave the trees and come out to the river side again after crossing a little bridge it becomes clear where the swans are going: to a field on Arram Carrs, where they are presumably feeding.
 I continue on the river bank. Eske Carrs on my right. Amazing how high the river is over the land. This is a very low lying area, almost sea level, now drained by a deep drain with a pump house by the river to overcome the difference in level. There used to be a medieval village in Eske, now only a farm house survives, on a 10 m high hill. The remainder abandoned and long gone, I wonder if due to the flooding these lands must have endured before electric pumps and massive river banks.
 As I am reaching Leven Canal I hear the clear notes of a Cuckoo. A midday Cuckoo, the first of the year, and a super end to today's river stage. I hang around and look for it and I see the cuckoo, flying and landing awkwardly on a strip of reeds on Leven Carrs, then flying away. I hear it again as I turn round.
 I walk on the east side of High Eske lake, less vegetated, which allows good views of the island. There is just one Mute Swan left. A couple of Common Sandpipers fly to the island from the shore, joining another two and a pair of Oystercatchers.
The rooks were feeding young and the noise is deafening as I walk by the rookery. At the base of a tree a young rook, which appears to have left the nest earlier than it should have done. It tries to fly up the tree and then crashes onto some nettles. I hope the parents find it and keep feeding it a while.
 On the home stretch back, the wind is pushing me along and I'm facing the Swifts and Swallows migrating up river. I'm now about half way up the River Hull!
Reed Bunting singing. 
The River bends just south of High Eske. 
A single Greylag gosling following its parents had me confused for a bit. Cormorants and Mute Swans.
Rope swing over the river. I didn't quite fancy swimming today though. 
A mixed hirundine flock on a sheltered spot of the river, where there were plenty of midges. 
The boggy terrain of Pulfin Bog.
View of Pulfin Bog. 
A pair of Treecreepers brought food to their young, in a nest in an old willow. While the other caught insects unaware of me and flew to the nest, this one saw me and froze, giving alarm calls, probably to keep the young silent. 
Entrance to Pulfin Bog YWT nature reserve. 
A Roe Deer resting. 
Belted Galloway cattle graze the fen. 
Large willow. 
This was a surprise: a Small Copper Butterfly. 
A large gathering of Swans, over 50, in High Eske. 
Small parties took flight one after the other. An amazing spectacle. 
Bridge crossing the canal connecting the river with the lake.  
Drain and pump on Eske Carrs. 
Mute Swans gathering on fields at Arram Carrs.
The end of Leven Canal. 
Record shot of Cuckoo. 
Common Sandpiper. 
Piping Oystercatchers. 
Rook Fledgling. 
Reed Bunting trying very hard to stay atop the reed despite the wind.

Walk Information
Check the walk route in the Wild at Hull Google Maps site on the right. Park in Tickton Bridge road by the Beverley and Barmston Drain and cross to the east bank of the river by the pedestrian bridge by The Crown and Anchor. The river bank is accessible until Pulfin Bog, and after it. The whole walk is just short of 8 km.

More Information
Yorkshire Dragonflies site.
Pulfin Bog YWT site.
Birdwatching at Pulfin Pog/High Eske. Birdnerd site.
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