When I was a boy my father took me to a place locally known as Carlton swamps, but little did I know that I would record the wildlife on it one day. I started to record what I saw when I was 25 in 1972. Along came Keith Bannister in 1974 followed by Eric Bennett in 1975. We met with Dennis Roberts at the Amenities & Recreation Department of BMBC and asked him to make the site a nature reserve to protect the wildlife from shooting pressures. Hundreds of Swallows were being disturbed from roosting. As I was the recorder, Mr. Roberts asked what I would like to call the fledgling nature reserve and the rest is history as they say.
Keith And I invited Phil Wordsworth to come and ring birds at the site in 1976, he said 'It is the best single net ringing ride I have ever encountered.' In January 1977, he caught and ringed a Great Grey Shrike followed soon after by Yorkshire's first ever Dartford Warbler in March 1977. What a sensation that caused, it was described by Mike Pysden, as 'The bird of the century' at a meeting of Barnsley Bird Study Group.
In 1976 there was only a small area of open water full of Soft Rush, Bulrush and Reed Canary Grass growing in the rich silt deposits. It wasn't until later that we introduced the first plants of Common Reed, which led to the colonisation of Reed Warbler and rare visits from Bearded Tit. Two out of the 4 that were caught in December 1982 were already ringed and were traced back to Ousefleet Goole.
The first phase of a scrape was completed in 1980, which had the affect of attracting more wildfowl and Waders.
One of the most exciting ringing recoveries goes back to 1986, when a Sedge Warbler, ringed here in August 1986 by Dave Smith, was found by a German ringer from Frankfurt in an Eleonora's Falcon nest as a prey item on Lanzarotte a month later. It was the first recovery of a British ringed Sedge Warbler on the Canary Islands.
An Icterine Warbler found its way into Dave Smith's net in September 1988 two weeks after a Yellow Browed Warbler teased us both by sitting on top of the net, the one that got away.
Still owned by BMBC, Russ Boland from the Parks and Countryside Department works alongside our wildlife group volunteers to manage the site with the limited resources. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust came in as a partner last year led by Pete Wall. In 2014 Pete had already helped create new habitat for wildfowl opening up overgrown reed beds, and 106 section money was secured from BMBC for Russ to create a new wader scrape on one of the Meadows.
Annual Natural History Reports written by members of the group have been published by BMBC every year since 1976 and include all aspects of wildlife. I look forward to what the future brings and thank all our past and present observers for their invaluable contribution.
Photos by Russell J. Boland
Founding members of Carlton Marsh, Keith Bannister, Cliff Gorman & Eric M. Bennett
(we still have hair)
Some of Carlton Marsh Wildlife Group from left Rod Heeley, John D. Coldwell, Richard Laverack, Dave Tattershall, Chris Parkin, Ralph Hibbert & Keith Bannister.
Today's highlights were 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Shoveler, c20 Gadwall, 26 Teal, 3 Cormorant, 2 Kingfisher, 4 Water Rail, Green Woodpecker, 10 Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Goldcrest, 2 Jay, 50+ Redwing, 4 Lapwing, Song Thrush singing, Dabchick, Bittern flew across the scrape at 15.25hrs. Little Egret roosted and Tawny Owl called at dusk.
Dave Standish showed me the International Space Station as it hurtled over us in a clear blue sky at 16.40hrs.