West Hallam - Straw's Bridge Nature Reserve
w/e 7 June 2009
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Evening Light

Ask anyone directions to Straw's Bridge and they would probably tell you that it's at the bottom of Derby Road and whilst this is perfectly true the site does actually lie within the West Hallam Parish and the access to the car park is off High Lane East. Walkers can reach it from a variety of directions though including the Nutbrook Trail which, with the Nutbrook Canal, marks its eastern boundary. We made our way there one evening for a gentle stroll around the site before the forecast rain arrived.
Former Opencast Works

The low lying area has always been prone to flooding exacerbated by the demise of the canal network in the nineteenth century but for about ten years in the 1970s and 80s coal was extracted from here by opencast methods. Since then it has been landscaped by Derbyshire County Council and is now managed by Erewash Borough Council for the benefit not only of the wildlife but also for the people who come from near and far. Part of the landscaping has involved the introduction of many aquatic and marginal plants to protect the lakeside from erosion.
Birds Of A Feather

Such has been the success of the restoration that a large number of swans can be seen on the largest area of water on the site so that it is known locally as Swan Lake. But on this particular evening the swans were few and far between although a pair of Canada Geese with five youngsters passed a family of mallard ducks (in the shadows at the bottom right of the picture) swimming in the opposite direction. Coots, moorhens, tufted ducks, lapwings and great crested grebes among others are also common sights on the water.
Smallest Lake

The Reserve is crossed by a disused railway line and passing under a bridge through the embankment leads to two more lakes which provide a more peaceful and sheltered environment for nesting and breeding birds. Copious amounts of reed-mace and rushes have been planted around these two smaller lakes. On a previous visit a heron was spotted standing in the shallows but none was apparent tonight.
Beating Wings

Standing at the same position as for the previous image, the sound of beating wings signalled the passage of a number of Canada Geese flying off to roost for the night.
Larger Lake

A path circles the larger of these two additional lakes and those rushes and reed-mace can be seen to good effect.
Bedding Down

At one end of the lake the reeds give way to an area devoted to wild flowers and two of those elusive swans appeared to be bedding down for the night at the side of the path.
Making Friends

But as we returned to the main lake we caught up with that family of ducks we had seen earlier and bedding down seemed to be the last thing on their minds as the ducklings wanted to make friends with this coot under the ever watchful eye of their mother. With the sun sinking lower and the temperature dropping though it was time for us to call an end to this visit to Straw's Bridge Nature Reserve.

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