We decided to visit Tophill Low water pumping station.
It's an RSPB reserve with two large reservoirs set in wetlands between the west bank of the River Hull and Barmston Drain that are a haven for wildlife. It's a working station and provides water for the town of Kingston-upon-Hull whilst also being open to nature lovers.
The reservoirs are high sided concrete and very deep so can only be viewed from high hides and viewing platforms built around their sides. They are named 'O' and 'D' because of their shape. Each is surrounded by wetland areas, copses and woodland.
We decided to do the shorter three mile walk of the 'D' reservoir.
Climbing the steep open tread steps to the first hide, covered in wire mesh so the unwary don't slip, we caught glimpses of the water as we went up. There were flocks of mute swans, various ducks and lots of gulls. We watched for a while from the quiet peacefulness of the hide and I was pleased to see a smew, it's only the second time I've ever seen one, but he was too far away for a photograph so I had to be content to watch through my binoculars. He's a spectacular little fellow with white plumage covered in what looks like black graffiti. There were two ruddy ducks too with their gorgeous ginger plumage and bright blue beaks.
The next part of the walk is a meandering path, you stroll through a beautiful snowdrop covered wooded area where sunlight filters down through the canopy. There are small ponds set here in small open glades, which in summer attract dragonflies, butterflies and insects but this time of year there isn't a lot to see, just a waterhen scurrying into the foliage at the pond's edge. The different colours of which are interesting, the old brown spent reeds with new green shoots forcing their way up from the bottom and the cotton tufted reedmace heads blowing in the wind.
Following the beech mast strewn path through the woodland we saw the double slotted tracks of roe deer embedded deep in the once muddy ground but sadly not the animal itself.
A grey squirrel scampered up a tree and sat watching us from it's lofty vantage point knowing full well it was safe...he was nibbling delicately on a pine cone with his pretty tail arched over his back like a fluffy parasol.
We rounded the high wall at the top of the reservoir committing ourselves to the flat side of the 'D' shape. I'm not as keen on this bit as the other as it's a long straight concrete road which the wardens use for transport. It seems to go on forever but it is besides the Barmston Drain so you can occasionally see waterfowl and there are small birds in the hedges which run alongside. There are often roe deer in the field across the water but today wasn't our lucky day.
Entering a wooded area once more we came across a larch tree in flower with it's pretty bright pink female cones, we found them last year and had hoped they would be in flower again. The tiny yellowy brown appendages on the underside of the branch are the male cones which will eventually grow into the cones we all recognise. There were more bushy tailed grey squirrels leaping around from branch to branch and elusive bluetits sang out their appealing little shrill noted songs though we never did catch a glimpse of them.
Then we were back at the car park, removing our walking boots before sitting in the warmth with a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
All this walking must surely be good for me...lol...even if I really enjoy it and it doesn't feel like exercise!
Here are a couple of pictures:
pretty pink female larch cone flowers, the small yellowy brown appendage underneath is the male cone
delicate green weeping willows, there are usually lots of rabbits feeding under them but a new rabbit proof fence has been erected so they might have got 'rid' of them
The long straight concrete road I'm not too keen on walking, the deep set Barmston Drain is over the mesh fence on the right
Roe deer slots
One of the small ponds dotted throughout the woodland