An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.
Swans Bradley & Brooke
We are delighted with the progress of our two cygnets who are now almost the size of their parents. We do not know what happened to the third cygnet but at the same time it disappeared, Brooke sustained a leg injury. We are keeping an eye on her but please can we ask all dog walkers to keep their dogs away from all the birds and out of the lake.
Pupils, Aimee, Alicia and Anna from Bradley Stoke Community School are producing some posters for us about which food is best for the ducks and swans, although we have yet to persuade the local pet food store to help us in our campaign and restock duck food pellets!
Although we won’t be as well turned out as David Barber, Her Majesty’s Swan Marker in his official red coat and feathered cap we hope that our own Chairman, David Baker will still cut a dash when we have our first ‘Swan Upping!’ as we are planning on getting our swans ringed. We hope to also find out what gender the cygnets are and check on Brooke’s leg. The Thames swan upping has found that their cygnet numbers are down by a third although no one quite knows why.
Despite the best efforts of our ‘The Big Pull’ event (a nationwide weekend for pulling up Himalayan Balsam) there is still much of this menace on our site, although in some areas our Dog Walkers ‘10 a day’ campaign seems to be working, as generous walkers pull up 10 of the plants on their daily doggy walks. Although national newspapers report that this invasive weed can grow up to 5ft this years wet weather seems to have been ideal growing conditions as we have found giant specimens that are nearer 10ft!
We also have on site a small area of Japanese Knotweed which continues to be managed by the landowners South Gloucestershire Council and fortunately, although our Hogweed is also very tall, it is not the Giant Hogweed which causes severe skin burns. Although both look like Cow Parsley, with flat white flowers and jagged leaves, Giant Hogweed can grow over 12ft and has a much thicker bristly stem often with purpled mottling and with seed heads that can be 1-2ft wide. Avon Weeds Forum (based at Bristol Zoo) has more information on their website www.aiwf.org.uk and should you ever find any giant hogweed anywhere, they have a free plant tracker app for notifying them of its location: http://planttracker.naturelocator.org
We have on the reserve several free permanent activities. For the very energetic, we have three running markers 1km, 2km & 3km, although no one has yet to log their times on Walk Jog Run so the gold medal is still up for grabs! For the less energetic, we have three orienteering courses, short, medium & long, the maps are available from the library or can be found on the SGC website and for those that would like a gentle nocturnal stroll we have bat detectors & guides available to borrow from the library.
If you would prefer a guided bat walk, we are taking part in the 19th International Bat Night (29th-30th August) and have several free walks planned (on 18th & 25th September and 9th October). We also have a nature ramble on 4th October and an owl prowl on 20th November. This September is our 10th birthday and as part of our celebrations we will be appearing in an inter-parish walking calendar!
This article originally appeared in the September 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.