Wings Across the Ings by Jeff Lunn
The Nats talk on Wednesday 4th of March was delivered by Jeff Lunn, formerly of Natural England. It was a talk about The Garganey Trust, a short history of Broomhill Flash and the ‘wings across the ings’ project. Jeff is the chairman of the Garganey Trust which was formed in 1998. The trust was formed in response to threats to Broomhill Flash by developers who proposed turning it into either a fishery or a boating lake. Jeff was asked to form the trust to raise money to buy the flash because bigger organisations were not interested in saving it. They now manage 150 acres including two other reserves, Denby Delf and Thunderbridge. Jeff explained that The Garganey Trust was so named because garganeys have been seen in the Dearne Valley for many years. In order to breed, the garganeys need shallow flooded grassland, this has been achieved at the flash through careful planning and a massive construction effort, but sadly no breeding garganeys yet.
The trust is partnered with the following organisations:
The Flamborough Bird Observatory who have built a two story hide to monitor bird populations and migrations. It is run by a team of volunteers, their aims include: studying and recording birds in the area, creating and maintaining habitats for wildlife and promoting conservation in the local community. Broomhill Flash is a prime migration point.
Dearne Valley Landscape Partnerships who are interested in engaging the public to learn more about the Romano-British archaeological remains that were discovered at the site.
RSPB Old Moor supports the management of Broomhill Flash by mowing the rushes to provide better breeding conditions for Lapwings.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust who support the trust at the Denby Delf and Thunderbridge reserves.
Jeff went on to explain the meaning of ‘wings over the ings’. One of their aims was to connect Broomhill Flash to nearby Wombwell Ings. The problem being that there was a 44 acre arable field between them, to make matters worse the farmer who owned the field used it for shooting. This involved the construction of a new lake, wet ditches and a flood defence to protect a settlement on the north side. The farmer eventually complied and then sold the land to the trust in 2019, he now leases it back and manages it in a nature friendly way. It was when this field was being excavated that the archaeological remains were found, while they were delighted by the finds it did mean that the project was held up.
Jeff showed slides of some of the birds seen on the flash including lapwing, snipe, redshank, shoveller, pochard, gadwall and grebes. He even had a photo of a glossy ibis that had been seen on the flash. He showed us bird nesting boxes with two levels that attracted barn owls in the lower level and kestrels in the upper level. Mammals recorded include brown hare, water shrew, harvest mouse and water vole. The flash also has two nationally scarce water plants Potamogeton trichoides and Ranununculus peltatus. A meadow has been created and has a lovely display of flowers and grasses. The meadow has been named ‘Clegg’s Meadow’ in recognition of TV presenter and naturalist Michael Clegg’s work campaigning for the protection of wildlife sites in the area.
Jeff was full of praise for the organisations that contributed funds to the project, the bulk of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
You can view this sparkling new wetland reserve from the hide but there is no public access on to the site itself unless on an organised event. There is a car park and it’s not far from RSPB Old Moor so why not drop in after you’ve been to Old Moor?
You can find out more about the trust and its public engagement activities by visiting their website: https://garganeytrust.org.uk/projects/wings-across-the-ings/