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Catchment Management

Habitat improvements on River Hull boost wildlife

Conservation work on the River Hull funded by Yorkshire Water has been undertaken to create a better habitat for rare bird species and otters.

The work involved clearing trees and planting reed beds on the edge of the river where it flows past Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield.

Over 25 volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) carried out the work, which has enhanced the wetland habitat for rare bird species such as the enigmatic Common reed bunting.

Richard Hampshire, Yorkshire Water’s Warden at Tophill Low Nature Reserve explained: ‘The volunteers have helped us curate an appealing habitat for wetland birds and otters which live and breed on our marshes and reed beds. By removing the trees from the edge of the river this helps protect rare bird species from birds of prey that previously used the trees as a vantage point to hunt. It also provides a more appealing sanctuary to curlew, sandpipers and stints which attract observers from across the country to see and photograph them.”

The 300 acre Tophill Low Nature Reserve is one of the best places in the country to bird watch with over 160 species of birds including several migratory species from Africa. It is flanked by the River Hull which is a ‘perched river’ – meaning it is elevated above the surrounding land, much of which lies at or below sea level. Originally a huge wetland wilderness the Hull valley was drained in the 1700’s and now only a few wetland areas remain such as Pulfin Bog near Beverley.

Due its artificial nature maintaining the integrity of flood defences along the River Hull is of great importance to the Environment Agency. The roots from trees can cause damage to the flood banks which is why some have been removed.

Ian Jakulis from The Conservation Volunteers said: “This volunteer project has enabled people to gain valuable skills and experience of working on larger scale conservation tasks, including providing training for long term unemployed individuals, keen to get back into work within this sector.”

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