Monday, 23 October 2017

River Hull. Stage 16. Wansford to Whinhill Farm

I start this stage at Wansford stone bridge over the river (West Beck at this stage) and walk west on the river's right bank. It is a mild day, cloudy with sunny spells, a Red Admiral basks on the road sign, many Caddis flies on the wing too. 
 Most of the section, the path runs across pasture fields, alongside the river bank, but separated from it by a fence as this section of the river is a fishery and the path on the bank is not public access. Despite the 'welcoming' sign announcing a bull is in the first field, there are actually just two horses. They are feeding by the gate and they come to welcome me as I cross it. The next field, by the buildings and large trees of Golden Hill Farm, is smaller and not grazed, the grass is long and lush. As I approach the 3rd field I see a herd of cattle all watching me intently right by the other side of the fence. The gate is in the middle of the field, so crossing the gate would mean walking through them. Mmm, maybe not. I jump to the other side of the fence and walk alongside the field by the river bank.
 There are quite a few Redwings about, passing overhead and on the hedges. Chirruping Skylarks also fly over, one of them singing from a field. I watch a Kestrel picking a large worms on a field, and then hovering and eventually settling on a fence to hunt. Three Little Egrets shine from a field. All along the walk, there are Cormorants flying over.
 The river meanders, sometimes quite narrow, with low branches of willows growing over it, sometimes wider. The bottom is quite visible, with lots of aquatic vegetation. The banks have scattered trees. I walk by a fish farm, Wansford trout farm, just opposite. It is covered with green plastic mesh, but two Grey Herons manage to go in and fly out, somehow avoiding the mesh. A Kingfisher flies upstream. I look in the area where I think it went, but instead I surprise two Little Grebes, one of them holding a small fish, but both dive to avoid me.
  Suddenly, it is very muddy underfoot and I almost lose a boot on a boggy area on a bend of the river. Later, on my way back, I flush a Snipe from the same area of flooded pasture.
 At the other side of the drain that runs parallel to the river there is a field with a shallow pond, where four Green Sandpipers fly off, their alarm calls reminiscent of a Swallows. On my way back I approach cautiously and three of them are back feeding on the edge of the water.
I was curious of the name on the map: 'Otter Island'. When I reach it however, it is not an island, just a small copse by the river. A Great Spotted Woodpecker calls from a dead branch.
 The river becomes quite shallow now and there is a ford crossing it (top shot). After a little while I come to the end of the public right of way, on the grounds owned by Mulberry Whin fly fishing and retrace my steps. The way back proving far less eventful. A total of 44 bird species in the 3 km2 surveyed.
An inviting sign greets the walker at the beginning of the path. Just two friendly horses were on the field fortunately.
Two Mute Swans go down the weir under the bridge.

The horses on the 'bull field' fields.

More invertebrates about: Yellow Dung Flies on pat.
Kestrel on a fence. I watched it catching a large earthworm from a field.
The floodplain on a the river bend. Although grazed, this boggy field seems connected to the river, with no embankment.
Buildings by Whinhill Weir.
Whinhill Weir
A Moon fly, Mesembrina sp.
The Green Sandpiper pond
The only bridge across the river on the stretch, a wooden footbridge closed to the general public.
Young Mute Swan affected by 'angel wing', a malformation on the wing caused by a poor diet such as bread. The flight feathers are malformed and stick outwards.
The end of the Public Right of Way at the Mulberry Whin fly-fishing section, and the end of today's section.
My lunch spot. A bench overlooking the river near the location of the former  'Bobby's Bridge'
The private bridge on the way back. 
One of the Green Sandpipers feeding on the pond shallows.
Little Egrets on field.
More information
This walk is described at the 'Walking the riding' website. Walk N26.
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