Posted by: lensweb | August 13, 2014

Nottingham Canal Local Nature Reserve

Nottingham Canal Local Nature Reserve

From Stapleford, go through Trowell, at church turn right towards Nottingham, Cossall Road is first on left after canal bridge. Cossall Road car park is on left at end of straight stretch.

Grid ref SK 483 412                    Postcode NG9 3PG

Leader John Haynes

In bright sunshine from the car park we watched several hundred jackdaws and rooks picking over rough grass. A stripey chested brown kestrel posed in a far hedge, testing our binoculars.

Broxtowe Borough Council’s Nottingham Canal LNR follows the former towpath of the Nottingham Canal. Six miles long, it is narrow and covers 30.6 hectares. John introduced us to the southern section which has large areas of open water.  The canal was originally built to transport coal to Nottingham and was opened in 1796. It was abandoned for navigation in 1937, remaining in water until 1971. A 200m section is owned by the Trowell Garden Centre and was filled in, but a footpath links the canal sections. The nearby Erewash Canal and the River Erewash are linked by the Erewash Valley Trail and numerous footpaths.

les lnr

Swifts were swirling high in the sky and moorhens poked amongst the green reed spikes as our eyes searched the marginal vegetation of the canal for our familiar waterside plants, purple loosestrife, water figwort, gipsywort, hemp agrimony, amphibious bistort, water forget me not and water mint. Reed sweetgrass, yellow flag, greater reedmace (our bulrush) and branched bur reed seemed to almost choke the canal. Shining yellow overgrown buttercup flowers of greater spearwort thrust out of the reeds by a wooden bridge, and this was a big tick for us.

A comma caterpillar was feeding on a nettle overhanging the canal. The comma is a very common butterfly but few people had seen the caterpillar before. The caterpillar is interesting in that it mimics a bird dropping to prevent it from becoming a bird’s meal. When sitting curled up and motionless on a nettle leaf the skin patterns of dark brown, tan and a big white splash on the rear would fool most casual glances.


Among the willows a large cherry tree had cracked and rested with its crown in the canal, the heron’s delight and a good site to roost. The Grey Heron is a tall bird with a long neck and legs, and a heavy dagger-like bill. The upperparts are grey, but the head, neck and belly are white. The crest is black and black markings continue down the throat to the belly. A bird motionless for so long, our big question was ‘Is this bird stuffed?’

nottm canal

At the Robinett’s arm we saw John’s favourite site where grass snakes lie in the sun. The section east of Robbinett’s Arm is a 6.2 (ha) Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), one of the best examples of acidic grassland in the county.

It was a beautiful evening as we returned along the canal, damselflies with luminescent turquoise tails were motionless in the reeds. We met some locals searching for the moon which was a surreal experience which only happens if you go out with LENS. The sun retreated to make way for the largest, brightest moon in twenty years as the moon reached the closest point in it’s orbit of the earth. This is the perigee. The lustrous super moon was being admired by star gazers all over the world.


Marion Bryce 12 August 2014


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