Exercise off the excess at Thorne Moors
AS AZURE blue sky days become much rarer moving from Autumn to Winter, there are still plentiful reasons to take a seasonal visit to Hatfield or Thorne Moors - part of the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve.
A walk will lift the heart and exercise the body going into the forthcoming season of excess.
Natural England continues to welcome very many people onto the reserve, and the completed easy-access route at Boston Park Hatfield Moors has been fantastic. This route will allow you to experience a snapshot of the unique and important lowland peat bog and makes visiting in a wheelchair, buggy or with a child in a pushchair still possible through the winter months. In addition the main car park at Boston Park will be altered very shortly so that it is open at all hours .
Silver birch and willow leaves have turned across the palette of colours in recent weeks and fallen from the branches - the reserve feels much more open and airy as the bracken dies back to a winter brown crispness. It gives a better opportunity to see red and roe deer and numerous birds for which the reserve is renowned darting through scrub.
The red and roe deer populations have completed their annual rut, once again providing a wildlife spectacle which can be enjoyed by the public by joining onto one of the guided walks next year at Thorne Moors in early October.
Julian Small, the Senior Reserve Manager, says, “It’s amazing to think we started 2012 in a drought! Travelling around the Moors today is almost like being on another planet. Instead of crispy flakey peat, we have hundreds of hectares of open water with levels having steadily risen since February. The Reserve staff are probably amongst only a few that have welcomed a wet summer!”
Of course, wetter peat means better habitat for sphagnum moss, a key plant on the reserve and better habitat for some wetland wildlife. Wetter peat means that less of it oxidises, disappearing into thin air, and more of it can form as sphagnum moss piles up on the cotton grass - another key species. Floods, however, mean that not much will grow at all, and waves lap away at peat bunds, used to section off a large area into smaller compartments of land. There is more work to do to make sure the old peat milling fields don’t get too wet.
Adders and grass snakes have gone into slumber although volunteers who record these through the warmer months have now collected sightings in each month of the year - so there is an outside chance of still seeing one.
Murmerations of starlings numbering 5-6,000 have been seen over Thorne Moors and 2 small groups of waxwings typically searching for berries in the vicinity. Summer surveys show that the numbers are up for the NNR’s quirky summer visitor from Africa, the nightjar. For the first time in a while, the two famous Thorne and Hatfield beetles; the mire pill-beetle and the Thorne pin-palp beetle have been seen. Despite the weather, caterpillars and an adult of the scarce vapourer moth, found only on the NNR and a couple of places in the Norfolk Broads have also been recorded.
Inside now, Volunteers are busy beavering away collating the summer’s collected butterfly and moth survey numbers. They have been making use of Natural England’s newly located office on Tudworth Road, Hatfield. Any readers of this article who would like to volunteer should contact the Community Support Officer on 07766 420290 as there are always opportunities to get involved. We are presently looking specifically for a little help with administration in the office a few of hours a week, so if you have some spare time, please give us a ring. Training and equipment will be provided.
Access to Hatfield Moors – the car park at Boston Park, Hatfield will only be closed this holiday period on Christmas Day and even then, with the out of hours facilities still available.
For more information on the Humberhead Peatlands contact 07766 420290 or see Natural England’s website www.naturalengland.org.uk
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Selby
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West