Regular visitors to Staxton Carr may have noticed some new fencing appear this spring on fields off Ings Lane and Staxton Carr Lane. The fencing is part of the scheduled HLS capital works to help manage some of these pastures for breeding waders, like Lapwing and Curlew, or possibly Snipe.
There are some nice options for circular walks in this area, using the public footpaths and, by common practice the river bank of the Hertford Cut. These circuits are perhaps best-known to residents of Staxton village who take regular walks with canine friends. Three lanes run parallel northwards to the Hertford River (the third, Willerby Carr Lane, becomes a rough farm track after the last house but is a public bridleway.)
A glance at the map shows that all three lanes are linked by Public Rights of Way. The fencing that has been added this year does two things. Firstly it creates grazing compartments enabling the farmer to better control the stocking levels (or shut them for a late summer hay crop). Secondly it separates the sensitive fields from the public rights of way in order to reduce disturbance from walkers or dogs straying ‘off piste’ among the ground nesting birds (or cattle, or both).
When the HLS scheme started here the relevant fields had some wader scrapes excavated – hollows for seasonal wet patches to linger in the springtime. Ground-nesting waders recorded in the fields in recent years include Lapwing Oystercatcher and Curlew. Over-wintering Snipe may stay on to nest among the boggy rushes, if undisturbed and the sward develops to their liking. Other ground-nesters here are Skylark, Meadow Pipit and that diminutive game bird the Quail.
Next time you enjoy exploring this part of The Carrs look for the scrapes and the rushy patches and remember why these fields are sensitive, especially at nesting time. We need the help of all footpath-users, whether two – or four-legged to keep these fields undisturbed – the wildlife value may not be obvious to the casual observer, but those of us in the know will keep a look-out and may even spot some chicks, if we are lucky.