Rodley Nature Reserve talk
Rodley Nature Reserve in the Kirkstall Valley (LS13 1HP and open to visitors on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4pm),was the subject of the Wharfedale Naturalists evening lecture on Jan 10th. Peter Murphy took us through a year in the life of the reserve supported by magnificent photographs taken mainly by his wife Barbara. The year started with the cold snap of early December 2015 with superb tranquil pictures of different winter resident and visiting species. Disaster struck the reserve on Boxing Day 2015 when flooding swept out fences, washed away decking, ripped out pond liners and left large areas covered with mud and flood debris. Thanks to the work of many volunteers and local people the reserve was able to reopen ten days later and throughout the year repairs were completed.
A success story of Rodley is the manmade sandmartin bank which the sandmartins start returning to in late March. Other successful breeding birds include warblers, kestrels, common terns, barn owls, little owls and great crested grebe.
Due to its past usage the soil is very rich and so not conducive to wild flowers but two meadows have been established. There is a bee friendly garden (with honey for sale in the visitor centre) and a crop field to provide food for birds and insects. It was feared that the mud and debris brought down by the flood would damage the dragon fly population but that was not the case though Himalayan balsam unfortunately benefitted from seed dispersal.
Autumn brought passage migrants and good day time sightings of otter in the river.
The talk and photographs showed that there is always something to see and enjoy whatever the time of the year and the reserve is wheelchair friendly and caters for all ages.