Another busy month in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Swan and cygnets on the Three Brooks lake (a.k.a. the duck pond) in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.

Swans and cygnets

By now we’re sure you all know that our mute swans Bradley & Brooke have, from their seven eggs, hatched three cygnets! We’re rather chuffed with them – and with the ducklings, grebe and moorhen chicks that can be seen at the lake. We had made several temporary adjustments to the weirs at the lake to protect the young birds, unfortunately they and our new notice boards were vandalised, and on the morning of Saturday 23rd May local resident Steven Withers contacted us to say that the cygnets had been washed down the weir. Two of our group, Andy and Rob, dashed down to the lake to help and, fortunately this year, the cygnets have survived.


For our last two workdays we cleared streams and on our June workday we also welcomed two new members Sarah and Sophie, cleared a willow tree that often blocks the brook, cleared trees that were over hanging the path, pulled up Himalayan Balsam and Ceri impressed us with his lake fishing skills, quickly collecting several cones, a bin and one-and-a-half bikes!


Our Dawn Chorus walk may have been very wet (although we were warmed by the cooked breakfast that followed), but the rain held off just long enough for local reptile expert Amy Schwartz to lead our ever popular Reptile Walk.

Gill Smith reported: “We found slow worms under the mat by the tump entrance, then Amy pond dipped in the lower newt pond and within seconds had found a handsome adult male great crested newt! And some efts were found (palmate or smooth). Then we went to Bowsland Meadow pond where we found tiny fish and fry, raft spiders, pond skaters and damsel flies.”

Training & meetings

As well as our usual Committee Meetings, several members of the group attended an INNS surveys training day (Invasive Non Native Species) at Bristol Zoo, a volunteers’ day at the library, the launch of Community Spaces Network, the launch of the new Pollinator Strategy for Greater Bristol and associated Get Bristol Buzzing Campaign and we were invited to a Green Gym Design Day in Birmingham. Although we weren’t able to attend the Green Gym day in person, our suggestions did make it onto the agenda!


Perhaps because of the longer evenings, we have in the last two months seen a sharp increase in unsociable behaviour and vandalism on the reserve. Several notice boards have been smashed beyond repair, areas of woodland have been trashed, picnic tables and bins damaged, drug bags and a carrier bag with a sharps box and syringes have been found, two sections of motorway fencing have been removed and the fire brigade have been called out at least six times. Although we can’t put a value on trees, so they are not included, we estimate the recent damage to be over £2,000 and the Highways Agency estimate the cost of replacing the fences to be over £55,000.

Himalayan Balsam

We are appealing to our many dog walkers to help us with our battle with the invasive weed Himalayan Balsam which, if left unchecked, would cover much of the stream banks and beyond. The balsam out-competes native species, monopolizes the bees as pollinators, blocks out light from the streams and in winter leaves the banks bare, causing erosion. So we are appealing to all our walkers to pull up at least 10 balsam plants each time you walk your dog on the reserve; if everyone did this you would be helping us, and the reserve, enormously.

Committee changes

The Chair and Secretary, Hannah Hough and Emma Creasey have both stepped down after almost ten years in post. They were both the founder members of the group and without them it wouldn’t have grown from the early days of two people on a workday with some borrowed tools to the well organised group it is today. They will both be sorely missed. The remaining committee are pleased to welcome Paul Smith (events), Andy Moon (tools) and Rob Gould.

We now have new contact emails and, thanks to the generosity of Willow Brook Carphone Warehouse Manager, Scott Roberts, the group now has its own dedicated mobile phone (replace ‘ AT ‘ with ‘@’ in email addresses):

  • Chair (David Baker): chair AT
  • Secretary (Gill Smith): secretary AT
  • Treasurer (Sara Messenger): treasurer AT
  • Website (Robin Jones): webmaster AT
  • Events (Paul Smith): events AT
  • Green Gym (Sara Messenger): greengym AT
  • For general use: info AT
  • To report any problems / vandalism etc: report-it AT
  • For all your sightings / photos of any interesting flora and fauna: sightings AT
  • Three Brooks mobile phone: 07497 006676

Pond dipping in the Three Brook Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Photo: Pond dipping in the Three Brook Local Nature Reserve.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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  1. With respect, 3 chicks from 7 eggs isn’t good.

    Once you know the female is on the nest you need to be protecting her 24/7…….foxes will nip in and steal an egg the moment she stands up to stretch.

  2. 6 is the average number of swan eggs, so as an inexperienced mother Brooke has done quite well to hatch 3. We fenced off the nest as her biggest threat was coming from humans getting too close to the nest and stressing the pair and a small number of dog owners who failed to keep their dogs under control at the lake. We do what we can :0)

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