Volunteering at Daneshill Lakes

by | 20 August 2022 | Community Focus, Retford, Wildlife

In the third in our Wildlife Heroes series of people who do more than most to protect and monitor our precious wildlife, we meet Brian Horne.

“Daneshill Lakes Nature Reserve is a beautiful place near Torworth railway crossing. It’s owned by Nottinghamshire County Council and managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. I’ve been volunteering there, with the Trust, for about 10 years.
“Apart from enjoying just being there and feeling I’m doing my bit to care for it, I have two main interests in the site: conservation and history.

“I’ve found a lot of information about the site’s history in Lound village archives, including old maps from when it was a Royal Ordnance Factory making ammunition in WWII. It’s interesting to relate the details on the map to remaining evidence on the site. A railway system, coming from the east coast line, ran through the site during the last war bringing workers to the factory and two stations existed just off the site. The many jobs people did there, the risks they faced from the cordite they made and the primitive safety measures they used make a fascinating story.

“Conservation is my other passion, especially looking after the older oak trees, even though the oldest is only about 70 years old. To see them looking heathy for the long future they have in front of them gives me great satisfaction. The main conservation work in the woods takes place from about September to the end of February so we don’t disturb birds in the breeding season. Other jobs are controlling tree and shrub growth on the edge of the lake to improve water quality while leaving enough cover to give shelter to wildlife.

“Last winter we coppiced a large area of trees to the west of the lake to increase light levels and nesting opportunities and once a year we take a boat across to the island to cut down excess willow which makes it safer for the sailing club that operates on the site and creates a safe haven for breeding water birds. Water levels also need controlling as the whole site is man made from an old quarry and has little natural uninterrupted water flow.

“I get involved in many activities which broaden my knowledge as the reserve is visited by many specialists and specialist groups who come to enjoy and monitor the wildlife there. The fungi group is one of them. Daneshill is a wet woodland and provides excellent habitat for fungi. There are always interesting examples found. Another specialist group is the bat group. They come at night when the bats are feeding over the lake. Their bat detectors help identify the different bats by the frequencies of the sounds they make. The group is always pleased with the numbers of bats recorded.

“More recently I have combined my two interests, taking guided walks around the reserve explaining the conservation aims and telling people about its history. They are often surprised by the size of the reserve and the evidence of the railway line that served the ordnance factory.

“Finally, just helping maintain the site and getting to know many of the regulars who visit, makes for a very sociable experience in a peaceful, tranquil environment. If you would like to know more or find out about becoming a volunteer, contact me, Brian Horne at bryhrn@aol.com”.