Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Keldmarsh Nature Reserve
Keldmarsh Nature Reserve, Beverley, HU17 8UL
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Step back in time with a visit to Keldmarsh, a remnant of the kind of habitat that would have once covered this area. Clear chalk springs bubble up in pools and flow through this secluded wet woodland. Impressive willow trunks scatter the site and wrens sing their clear song from fringing blackthorn thickets.Keldmarsh is derived from the Scandinavian word for spring Kelda. This aptly describes the nature reserve, which in wet years sees several springs emerging, forming pools and streams of clear water. This water is fed by underground streams that run through the chalk bedrock. Where the chalk meets a layer of impermeable clay, water is forced upwards and emerges at the ground surface. Sadly in some years these springs can run dry, probably due to changes in surrounding land use and water extraction over the last few decades. The site is covered by woodland which, due to changing ground conditions, appears to be making a transition itself. Crack willow and alder, trees fond of getting their roots wet, are giving way to young ash which survive better in the drier conditions. Some venerable ancient willows lie fallen, but their twisted trunks and stems still provide homes for wildlife in their nooks and crannies. Elderberry, hawthorn and blackthorn provide scrubby areas of cover and birds breeding on site include chiffchaff, blackcap and dunnock. Some of the rarest species found at Keldmarsh are slime moulds. These strange ‘growths’ look like lichen or fungi, but are actually colonies of very tiny, primitive creatures, that act as one organism. Often found on wet, dead timber they can be seen to move if observed over several days. Wetland plants such as fool’s water-cress, yellow flag iris and marsh marigold are found in and around the wet pools and common frogs are a regular sight.