Nutwood and the adjacent old landfill site in Darley Abbey was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in January 2008
The Reserve is located about 400 metres upstream from the toll bridge and the site extends to about 10 hectares. It is bounded on two sides by the river Derwent, by Nutwood to the west, and by fields to the north. Access is at two points from the unmade road leading from the toll bridge in Darley Abbey to the Midland canoe club and from across the wide grass verge on South Avenue.
While Nutwood itself is very old, originally comprising oak and coppiced hazel, the old tip was in use by the Council until about 1985 when it was finished off with soil from the A38 link road. Before this it was a low-lying marshy area. Methane gas extraction continues at the site.
A variety of different habitats are now found within the Reserve, making it of special interest to naturalists. These include mature woodland, wetland/swamp fed by a small stream, grassland, developing scrub and other woodland, and riparian (riverside) habitats. A survey in 2003, on behalf of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, recorded over 260 species of plant including the rare bee orchid.
Over 50 species of birds have been recorded on and over the site, including green and great spotted woodpeckers, snipe, and on one occasion an osprey hovering over one of the wide bends in the river Derwent.
A management group was set up in 2007 and Derby City Council then applied to Natural England for designation as a Local Nature Reserve. This protects the site from development, secure its range of habitats and extends its use to the public. It also complements the educational facilities offered by the “Barn” project based in Darley Park.
A visit by members of the Derbyshire Mammal Group has generated a lot of interest. They undertook a small mammal trapping exercise in August 2008 and looked for evidence of harvest mice, badgers and bats later in the autumn. The small mammal trapping was done overnight and a total of 99 traps were set. Of 28 mammals caught wood mice were the most common species, but there were also bank voles, field voles, and common shrews.
Work on site
Derby WASP (Wild Derby Wildlife Area Support Project) has undertaken grass cutting as a trial in a selected area during the summer 2007 and controlled scrub clearance at the north end of the site took place in November. The grass-cut should encourage seed setting and help to maintain species diversity, and the scrub control aims to provide more space for nesting birds. Further grass cutting and scrub clearance has continued in 2008 and 2009, by our own volunteers and by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).
Future plans for the reserve include developing links with the Barn project, encouraging student volunteers to undertake projects on site and control of invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam. We also need to find out more about the animals and plants that live on the reserve. A further open meeting was held in 2008, and two more in 2009 in the village hall and on the nature reserve.
If you would like to know more about the nature reserve, or would perhaps like to help in some way, please contact me by email or phone 01332 557249.
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