August in the Three Brooks nature reserve

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

August Workday

Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Our task for our August workday was to scythe Bowsland Meadow. And while we may not have all been as glossy as a certain actor in a certain period drama, we at least know how to use a scythe properly! Sorry Aiden. Although you may look at the meadow and think we missed quite a bit, it was deliberate, as our ongoing planting plan is flourishing and the meadow now boasts quite a diverse collection of plants and we wanted to leave as many of the wildflowers as we could. We also repaired the old grass seat, cleared bramble from inside the new pond fence and marked the water’s edge (to see how quickly the water level changes), rediscovered the lost orienteering post number 8, put in a few reptile mats and taught a passer-by how to scythe, not bad for a day’s work!

We were also educated in the ancient art of Pokémon Go by the many personable youngsters who passed by searching for these elusive creatures that we were told can be found hiding on the reserve, if you possess the magical powers known as an ‘app’!

Dog walkers please help!

Pulling Himalayan balsam in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Green Gym are concentrating their efforts at the moment on ‘balsam bashing’. Himalayan balsam is a non-toxic but invasive weed that can just take over huge swathes of land, mostly by the water’s edge. It’s easy to spot as it can grow to 3 metres and has a distinctive pink flower. Keeping the numbers down is a huge task, so we are again asking all our dog walkers (and everyone else) if every time they walk on the reserve, they could pull up ten plants. They are very easy to pull up as even 3m plants only have roots that go down a couple of inches. Leave the plants on the side and then snap or stamp on the stems for good measure! The stems are quite hollow and I’m told it’s like ‘stomping on dead men’s bones’ although quite how they knew that I didn’t like to ask! For those who like to know their statistics: Each plant can produce 800 seeds; we will have 75 percent fewer spiders, 64 percent fewer beetles and 58 percent fewer ‘true’ bugs in balsam patches; and the annual cost of control is estimated at £300 million!

We can’t promise to pay you for your help, but if you send us your photos, maybe of your tallest plant or your stomping dance, we’ll come up with a prize for the best one. Either email it to: or add it to our Facebook page: Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group

While balsam bashing in the brook, we came across one of the large pipes that drain into it. Big Dave twice whistled up the pipe and each time received a growl back! So either someone’s dog was hiding out or we found the den of our water deity Trolletheus. Either way, by the time we had returned with a torch the ‘Beast of Bradley Stoke’ had gone.

Tree Measuring Day

The DRY project (Drought Risk and You) hosted a free tree measuring training day so never one to turn down a free lunch, several of us headed over to The Ridings in Chipping Sodbury to learn how to measure trees – and it wasn’t quite as simple as we’d thought. The girth was easy, the crown spread not so hard, but working out the tree height angle plus eye height plus tree height took a little more concentration! The project, based at UWE, is looking for stories and pictures of drought and water use, and for schools and individuals to help with tree surveys. If you are interested in helping them or just have something to share, their contact details are:
www:; e:; t: 0117 32 87024

For further information, visit our website (, like us on Facebook (, email or phone 07497 006676.

Photo: A conservation group volunteer “pulling” Himalayan balsam in the reserve.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 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.

Dog walkers: Ten a day.

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