Welcome to our Wetlands, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve of regional importance for birds, run by the Trust in partnership with our dedicated team of local volunteers and developed in partnership with Humberside Aggregates (H. Agg)
The 40 ha. original Reserve to the north of Dryham Lane includes some 20 ha. of water, following extraction of sand and gravel by H. Agg over the 20 years leading up to acquisition of the site by the Trust in 2000.
We inherited 6 deep and bare holes. Over the next 3½ years H. Agg made a wonderful job of moving some 250,000 tonnes of material into, out of, or around the site to our specification, with considerable design assistance from Roger Mitchell of Potteric Carr. The 10m deep Reedbed Lake was infilled with inert material to make a shallow lake with islands and reedbeds. The 1½ ha. Island Lake was made into a 3 ha. shallow lake with numerous islands. The water level in Village Lake was reduced to expose gravel beds. All the lakes were connected underground with a gravity driven water level management system and with the overflow taken into Black Dyke to the north. We now submerge shallow gravel islands in the winter with rain ground and spring water, to limit vegetation. We expose them in the spring for passage and breeding waders and ducks.
The infrastructure was completed with 3 large hides (2 with disabled access), paths, rafts, interpretation boards, seats, screens and bird tables. The perimeter path and hides were positioned to give optimum viewing for serious birders, novice naturalists and photographers alike. The eastern boundary was planted up with winter berry-bearing bushes to create a visual and noise screen from the main road and to add habitat. Wader scrapes and small dragonfly ponds extended site biodiversity. Dryham Lane was surfaced, a car park created, and from 2008 Angela Brown’s Wild Bird Cafe has been dispensing hospitality 7 days a week.
In 2004 H. Agg bought 42 ha. of farmland to the south of Dryham Lane and to the west of our original boundary, and asked us to partner them in a planning application for a Phase 2 development. Planning approval was subsequently granted to “extend North Cave Wetlands by the extraction of 3.4 million tonnes of sand and gravel”. Quarrying of the 17 ha. Dryham Ings started in 2008 and was completed in 2011. By 2013 restoration work had been largely finished, creating three flat interlinked cells of flood meadowland to the design of Phil Fermor of Middlemarch Environmental. YWT staff specified the splendid 60 sq.m. Crosslands Hide, built of timber frame with straw bale infill, to overlook the new meadowland to the east, H. Agg’s silt pond and future extensions to the west.
The Future – the Western Extension
By 2013 the original Reserve plus Dryham Ings and the silt pond extended to some 60 ha. The remaining 20 ha. of Phase 2 will be excavated and restored up to 2016 as deep water lakes; this is the area of deepest aggregate deposit. But expansion won’t stop there, for in 2008 we partnered H. Agg in a successful planning application again to quarry a further 57 ha. of farmland to the south and west of Phase 2. The aggregate deposits to the west are shallower, enabling H. Agg to restore this land for us to a mixture of shallow water, more flood meadowland and reedbeds over the next 12 years.
The Reserve Today
Avocet, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher are waders that now breed regularly, as do Great Crested and Little Grebe, Gadwall and Shoveler. Reed and Sedge Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat are resident in summer months, and we are a stronghold of the increasingly scarce Tree Sparrow. Altogether over 50 species have bred and 209 species have been recorded including 33 species of wildfowl, 32 waders and 18 gulls and terns. The Reserve Recorder Gary Dayes maintains recent sighting logs in each hide and a daily update outside South Hide. Copies of the full bird status list and of the 100 Common Birds checklist are usually available in the hides. 25 species of Butterfly (with Brown Argus established in recently years) and 19 species of Dragonflies/Damselflies have also been recorded.
So with 60 ha. of quarries already restored and another 80 ha. to go, the partnership between YWT local volunteers and H. Agg is creating a truly great sustainable site for nature.