Type : Wetland
Part of a major gravel extraction site, Besthorpe Nature Reserve lies in the Trent floodplain to the north of Collingham, on the east bank of the river. The site comprises two areas, north and south of Trent Lane, totalling around 68 hectares. A further 100 hectares or so of restored gravel pits to the south of Mons Pool will be added to the reserve between 2015 and 2020, when further extraction has been completed. The reserve is held by NWT under a long lease from Lafarge Aggregates.
About the Reserve
The northern area of the Reserve consists of three distinct habitat types: open water with islands, reed-beds and shingle. The reed-beds are home to a variety of breeding birds including reed- and sedge-warblers, and have suffered from drying out following closure of the gravel works. An ambitious programme is under way to restore these important habitats. To the north-west of the reed-beds is an open water pit which carries a variety of waterfowl at all times of year. In the past, it has held many diving ducks in winter including goosander and goldeneye, but these may move elsewhere in the valley once the depth has been reduced to facilitate re-wetting of the reed-bed areas. The area of rather bare gravel between the river bank, the open water pit and the reed-beds has an interesting flora including common cudweed and kidney vetch and on a sunny day can be an excellent site for butterflies, including brown argus. Little ringed plover has bred in this area for many years. A search of the scrub and willow areas should reveal southern marsh orchid, common spotted orchid and twayblade.
For some more pictures of the reserve please go to our flickr set
The restoration of what was once the largest reed-bed in the county is a major piece of work and involves developing an ambitious water management system to maintain it for the future and provide an important new mosaic of wetland habitats, including both raised dry reed-beds and lower wet reed-beds. Other work includes opening up orchid areas to avoid them being shaded out and maintenance of the open shingle and gravel areas to provide habitat for little ringed plover and other birds.
How to Get There
From the A1133 Newark to Gainsborough road, take the southern of two turns into Besthorpe Village and follow Trent Lane to its end where you can park and enter the reserve (SK813648). For SatNav purposes, use NG23 7HL and follow the instructions above.
About the Reserve
The section of the reserve to the south of Trent Lane comprises another area of old gravel workings and two traditional Trent Valley wildflower meadows, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest
The meadows cover just over 9 hectares of unimproved grassland with a nationally rare plant community. Species within the meadows include Yorkshire fog, great burnet, lady’s bedstraw, common knapweed, meadow vetchling and pepper saxifrage. An old borrow pit fringed by willows contains an interesting aquatic flora including spiked water milfoil and common water crowfoot.
To the south of the meadows lies Mons Pool, which contains an unusual inland colony of nesting cormorants and an ancient heronry. Young herons have been counted and ringed here for many years and caused great concern when it was found that many were dying because of brittle bones. Determined work by the North Notts Ringing Group and support by the Environment Agency eventually located the cause as pollution which has been stopped. How long the problem will remain is up for debate, but continued monitoring is ongoing.
Two hides are available for watching the birds which frequent the pool and apart from the herons and cormorants these include a wide variety of ducks in winter, and breeding sand-martins and common terns in summer. Kingfishers and little egrets can frequently be seen and a wide variety of species pass over or through the reserve, which lies in the major migration highway along the Trent valley.
Material scraped from the higher fringes of Heronry Island and other small islands has been used to create large areas of new reed-bed and wet grassland in the Mons Pool area. NWT hopes to continue to develop the reed-beds and margins of Mons Pool and adjacent wet grassland still further in the coming years.
Ongoing management will include maintenance of the paths, boardwalk and viewing hides and grazing of the surrounding grassland at the appropriate time of year.
The meadows are cut for hay in the late summer. Sheep are then introduced to carry out what is known as ‘aftermath grazing’. This style of management helps to maintain the diversity of wild flowers and grasses growing on these important wildflower meadows.
The willow growth alongside the borrow pit is cut on a rotational basis to ensure that light can reach the water, ensuring the protection of the aquatic habitat.
How to Get There
From the A1133 Newark to Gainsborough road, take the southern of two turns into Besthorpe Village and follow Trent Lane. Turn left down the access track to the car park. There is a boardwalk allowing wheelchair access to the viewing screen. An enclosed hide is situated in the south-west corner of the Mons Pool area, although access is currently over rough ground from Carlton Ferry Lane or Northcroft Lane. Two additional screens are to be installed overlooking the southern end of Heronry Island from land which is owned by Besthorpe Parish Council, but is now managed as part of the reserve.
If you would like further details about the reserve, or if you are interested in getting involved in the management of the site, please call the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Office on 0115 958 8242.