Work begins on the reedbed

Back when Nosterfield’s reedbed was first established, the worry was whether or not the reeds would establish at all. Now, some twelve years later, the reeds have done far too well and it is time to prune them back! The reeds have encroached on the maze of waterways, creating a thick thatch where once there was open water. These waterways are key to the success of the reedbed as they provide corridors of open water - a habitat for fish which, in turn, provide food for many birds.

We have already installed a new sluice gate to allow better control of the water levels in the reedbed and now, after dropping the level, we have begun work cutting and removing the reeds. This project has been timed to coincide with our Heritage Lottery Funded Well Wetlands Project, which sees our volunteer team expanding and developing the plant nursery. Many of the plants raised in the wetbeds of the nursery will go into planting new habitats created as we re-landscape the areas around the reedbed into high value habitats.

If you are a birder, we appreciate your patience as we work on improvements. However, if you can lend a hand with one of the largest projects at Nosterfield in a decade, let us know through the ‘volunteer’ tab.

Weekend Working? Yes please!

An enormous thank you to the 14 enthusiastic souls who came to our Sunday volunteers’ work “taster day” and made it such a success.

Zoe hard at work

Zoe hard at work

We spent the time clearing an area of overgrown vegetation at the south-west corner of Flasks Lake.  Hard, honest endeavour which was certainly appreciated by LUCT as we seek to re-introduce bog-loving plants which were once common to the area.

What was especially pleasing was the number of new faces who appeared ....and younger ones too!   People like Kerry and Guy who travelled from Easingwold for the day.   They love wildlife, have been to Nosterfield before to appreciate our 250-acre reserve and this was their opportunity to give something back. 

During a break from pulling up dead stalks of rose bay willow herb, Kerry said she delighted in being outdoors on what was a cracking day weather-wise; far better than a windowless laboratory where she spends her time Monday to Friday. 

Others came from Ripon, Brompton, Wensleydale and Swaledale.  We have a hard core of volunteers who turn up on Tuesdays and Fridays, but this was an opportunity for people who work full-time on those days to lend a hand, when they have time to do so.

We will organise further weekend volunteer working days in 2018 and what we will try to do is to invite the same group back when it comes to planting up the area they helped clear on the last Sunday in October.  What could be better than to enjoy the positive, constructive side of conservation work and not just the initial clearing of an area?  

Many thanks, once again,  to all of you who turned up.   

Launching our Muck In Days

We get about 15,000 visitors a year at Nosterfield.   

Birds are the biggest attraction but don't ignore the nine species of orchid, or our very own bloody-nosed beetle, or the 25-odd species of butterfly that are seen each year.   They have a growing number of admirers too.

Whatever your interest, however, your experience will be enhanced because of the year-round work of our volunteers.  

Vegetation has to be cut back, our hides cleaned and refurbished, fencing maintained and improved and areas to be given a new lease of life for the benefit of the more than eleven hundred species of flora and fauna that make Nosterfield their home or visit us each year.  All these essential activities are carried out by people prepared to give their time and energy to ensure that Nosterfield thrives.

Nowhere has their work been more obvious over the past 12 months than at our plant nursery. With a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dave, Laurie, John, Pandora, Charlie, Joy, Gareth, Mike, Jane and the rest of the gang have built a poly-tunnel, erected irrigation systems and nurtured  a few thousand native bog-loving plants. Eventually these plants will find a permanent home in the lakes, ponds, shallows and wet grassland that make Nosterfield so special, enriching the landscape and providing new homes for our wildlife.

There is always work to do and now that the Lower Ure Conservation Trust has taken over the management of a further 100-acres at Nosterfield Quarry, we believe that the time is right to try to expand the number of our volunteers.

With this in mind, we are organising a special volunteer “taster” day on October 28th.   It will run from 10 – 2 and provide an opportunity to those anxious to give something back to nature to come along, try out one or two essential tasks that are needed on the reserve, meet our existing volunteers and to see for yourselves whether you would like to join us here at Nosterfield on a more regular basis.   Come and give it a try; there is no obligation.

250 acres of nature reserve need looking after if they are to remain special.   You could be part of that.

Keep up to date about the arrangements for the day on our Twitter (@NosterfieldLNR) or facebook (

Rewilding with Chris Packham


Earlier this week, representing LUCT, I attended a conference hosted by Climate Change North-east, to hear the guest speaker, Chris Packham speak firstly about the state of the UK’s wildlife and secondly, about what we can all do to reverse the current situation.

Some facts which he quoted (based on scientific study) were frightening; for example, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.  Out of 218 countries assessed for their “biodiversity intactness”, the UK came 189th – much closer to the bottom than the top!

The UK has lost 44 million birds since the 1960s (a very short space of time in biological terms) and even more startling, we have lost 97% of our hedgehogs – a greater percentage than the decline of the Turtle Dove, which has been so widely publicised.

We have so accurately measured the declines of all these species (bird, insect and mammal) but failed to address these declines!  Our statutory agencies have suffered over 50% cuts in funding – we must start reinvesting in them.

Many nature reserves have become isolated and populations of key species have become fragmented.  Our national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are a very different “model” compared with their equivalents abroad.  For example, none of our national parks have wilderness areas, unlike in North America or Europe.

In France, following studies on 900 different farms, there is a deliberate policy of reducing the application of herbicides by up to 50%, because there has been no appreciable decline in crop yield - the French have acted on their findings almost immediately.

In the UK, only 1-2% of land is under nature conservation, compared with over 70% for agriculture.  What about a “nature friendly farming network”? There should be a bridge between farming and conservation - we have the capacity for change – a key phrase to take from the morning!

‘Rewilding’ is a word which alarms some – as a consequence, it has been misunderstood.  Rewilding can take place on a small, as well as landscape scale, approach. For example, in your own garden, allotment or park.  

One much lauded example, the Knepp Estate in Sussex, was intensively farmed for 60 years, without thought for the future.  Now it is a fantastic example of what can be achieved in a relatively short time frame.

Click through to manifesto

Click through to manifesto

Together with 17 acknowledged experts from the worlds of science and conservation, Chris has drafted The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife”, launched on Wednesday this week, which can be downloaded from his website.  Together with a walk starting in Hyde Park tomorrow, “Walk for Wildlife” we must “catch up” with the rest of Europe, by embracing our wildlife, much of which has featured in our culture and heritage for centuries.

None of us will agree with everything suggested in the Manifesto, but there will be many aspects that we all hopefully do agree about.  One idea is linking all primary schools with a local farm, to understand how our food is produced. The document is a draft, open for comment but nonetheless it is a valuable starting point for discussion.  Our neighbours in Europe have already begun to reverse the decline in their wildlife.  A healthier landscape means a healthier lifestyle, of benefit to us all!

Also see

Jill Warwick

Records tumble during Packham visit

For the second year running, LUCT participated in the national BioBlitz campaign to assess the state of the nation's wildlife. Over 100 volunteers and naturalists joined presenter Chris Packham to "Blitz" the Reserve and Quarry to record as many species as possible in just 24 hours.

Hopes were high that last year's record of 726 species would be broken.  However, few anticipated that nearly 850 species would be recorded on the day including the highest recorded number of species of moth caught during one night in Yorkshire. With many insect species yet to be identified, the total tally could be nearer to 1000 species. 

During his visit, Chris talked to many Nosterfield volunteers, as well as members of the public, to highlight the plight of the UK's wildlife which, in many cases, is confined to nature reserves like Nosterfield due to habitat degradation, pollution and climate change. Chris titled the campaign "Nature reserves are not enough". 

Chris praised the work of dedicated volunteers saying, "the enthusiasm on the site is palpable and everyone has put in a sterling effort but what we need to do now is see the bigger picture. What is going on 'over the fence' is disastrous, even with all the skills here we cannot put our finger in the dyke to stop the decline. However, we have the toolkit, the armoury, the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge to save our wildlife. From the punk rock generation, we can't leave it to other people - we need to do it ourselves." 

Our thanks go to all those who helped spread the word, raise the profile, make the tea, sandwiches and buns, run bat walks, man stalls, wear polycotton polo shirts in tropical temperatures, count moths, birds, flies, dragonflies, insects, pond life, bats, make bacon sandwiches, give directions, input data, put up signs or point out parking.

We couldn't have done it without you. 

Thanks to Stuart Roebuck and Lucy White for the photographs. 


A bigger home for the region's wildlife announced

Reedbed in foreground with Flasks and Kiln lakes behind

Reedbed in foreground with Flasks and Kiln lakes behind

Volunteers hard at work

Volunteers hard at work

Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve is set to expand with a further 100 acres being dedicated to wildlife conservation.  

The award-winning reserve in the Hambleton district will grow to more than 250 acres and will include two new lakes, a reed bed, magnesian limestone grassland and woodland area.  

The site is managed by the Lower Ure Conservation Trust (LUCT), a group of hard working volunteers with a track record for producing valuable habitats for wetland species.   

Simon Warwick, Director of LUCT, said: “Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers we have enjoyed great success in attracting wildlife to Nosterfield.  I’m certain we can continue to provide fantastic wetland habitats for some of our most cherished species which are often sadly in decline.”

Since the Trust was formed in 1997, it has prided themselves on attracting important breeding populations such as Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew and Shoveler, and Nosterfield was first place in North Yorkshire to host breeding Avocets.

Plans for the new area are ambitious, with a priority to rejuvenate the reed bed to bring Bitterns back to the reserve to breed once again.  In addition, there are already plans in place to further increase the area of shallow water and re-establish richer wetland habitats to benefit birds and other wildlife.

The reserve at Nosterfield used to form part of the neighbouring sand and gravel quarry, operated by Tarmac.  Over time Tarmac have worked with the LUCT to restore the area to a place for wildlife conservation.

Alan Coe, Production Manager for Tarmac said; “We are proud of the work we have done in collaboration with the LUCT to restore the previously quarried area.

“We hope that the ambitious plan the LUCT have for the extension of the reserve will attract many more species to the area and we look forward to working with them to achieve this.”

If you want to find out more about the work of the Lower Ure Conservation Trust, please see

Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve - Warden's Report for 2017

Nosterfield Local Nature Reserve - Warden's Report for 2017

An overview of a year on Nosterfield Reserve, as described by LUCT's Warden, Steve Worwood at the Nosterfield Liaison Meeting. 

It has been a difficult year for Nosterfield with very variable water levels with repercussions for wading birds. However, we are still delivering many of our targets and we have high hopes for 2018. 

Get in touch with us if you have any questions. 

Lower Ure Conservation Trust comes of age

Trustees Simon and Richard cutting the birthday cake

Trustees Simon and Richard cutting the birthday cake

Over thirty enthusiasts of all things Nosterfield Nature Reserve met up on Tuesday Jan 30th for a half day conference cum workshop on  our future, fitting as the charity enters its 21st year.   And what a stimulating event  at the White Bear conference suite in Masham it turned out to be.

We kicked off with four short presentations.  

Matt Millington,  the Development Officer for the North Yorkshire and York Local Nature Partnerships,   outlined Nosterfield’s place in a much larger environmental picture  and the need for a big landscape vision for something that is not just about birds, beats and bugs but about the benefits that such landscapes can have on people and on their mental and physical health.

Martin Hammond putting forth his argument!

Martin Hammond putting forth his argument!

Martin Hammond is an old (I mean that in the nicest sense)  friend of Nosterfield and his presentation painted in one sense a bleak picture of how much fen and wet grassland habitat we have lost in North Yorkshire  since the Enclosure Acts of the early to mid 18th century and the drainage of so much land for agricultural improvement.   Something in excess of 90 per cent.   But the North Yorkshire County Council ecologist also pointed out the opportunities available to re-invent some of these landscapes by a better understanding of our shared history.  

Simon W gave the audience  a potted history of Nosterfield NR, 21 years old this year and how much has been achieved in that time.  National awards for the priceless wet grassland, notable breeding successes and newly-found rare plants together with more than 600 species of living object found in the bio-blitz operation we held last summer.   And all from a former sand and gravel quarry. It is amazing how nature repairs itself and develops.  

Finally  Joe Priestley talked about our bid for National Heritage Lottery money for the next phase of our development.. the Well Wetlands.

We then broke up into three groups – Avocet, Bittern and Crane – for those present to offer up their views of where LUCT should be going in the future.....Two questions were posed – What should we be doing for people and communities? and What should we be doing to benefit nature and the natural landscape.   

The scuffle when voting for suggested changes to Nosterfield - a lively and engaged audience!

The scuffle when voting for suggested changes to Nosterfield - a lively and engaged audience!

The afternoon then ended with each of us giving our vote using a series of stars for those ideas put forward which most appealed to us. 

On the people and communities side side  there was a great deal of support for us to provide more hides so that visitors can spend time watching the natural environment in greater comfort.  The need for more volunteers to carry out the myriad tasks that are required to keep the reserve at  its best.   The thirdmost popular idea was to integrate the reserve, the quarry and the Thornborough Henges  into one visitor experience, with inter-related footpaths and bespoke signage    - an idea capturing one of the core aims of the LNP.

The most popular development  for the natural landscape was without question to make the reed bed bigger.    That would be very expensive but you never know and where would LUCT be without people thinking big and then making those big ideas a reality?   What we can and are doing immediately is extending the area of phragmites. An osprey nest platform was a popular idea and there appears to be a demand for an annual LUCT report – a yearly digest of what has been achieved and priorities for the next 12 months.  

A great and inspiring afternoon  and for those who attended and provided their thoughts for the future direction of our charity  one piece of advice.   Keep nagging the Trustees to ensure that many of these ideas are put into practice!