An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.
Our recent workdays have mostly been filled with coppicing, which is cutting hazel tree trunks down to ground level, so that in the spring, many new straight new stems will grow again from the base. Although it may look harsh, the tree does not die but is rejuvenated and most managed woodlands have a rolling programme of coppicing hazel every seven years or so.
We’ve also coppiced the large willows down by the lower newt pond, as these are getting too big to have beside paths and houses. The wood from these has been put aside to be made into some more simple seating around the reserve.
Our next workdays are on 4th March and 1st April.
Spring has arrived
The pond life on the reserve is beginning to stir with a few frogs and newts putting in an early appearance and we have enjoyed watching the birds eagerly checking out the new bird boxes we have been installing as part of National Nest Box week. We are so pleased with our new woodcrete boxes that we have placed an order for another 30. All the boxes are numbered and their place marked on a map, so this year we will have more of a chance of remembering where we put them!
Before much of the lake area is cordoned off for the planned Wessex Water work, we decided to get in early with an extra day’s volunteering. Green Gym made two floating platforms and these were launched on Sunday. We’ve never tried this before and we think we overdid the floatation side of things, as they are floating very much higher than we expected! But thank you to the three children who were brave enough to sit on board to test them for us, although if they hadn’t sunk under me I think they were always going to be fairly safe!
The launch was nearly postponed, as the local superstore was unable to cut any fake turf for the platforms, but Almondsbury Garden Centre offered us some of their store off-cuts for free. Then the added height meant that we had to add a ramp for the birds to get on board, but by the afternoon everything was ready and the platforms were towed out to the island by kayak. The platforms have been secured to a tree on the island as we felt that if we needed to maintain them it would be easier to pull them back in than trying to retrieve anchors in the middle of the lake – although most of the lake has only a foot or so of water, the mud is quite deep and treacherous.
While we were on the island, we put up new bird boxes, as the old ones had all been used but were now rotten, and after a bit of a search, we found the plastic woodpecker that has been there longer than we have! We cut back bramble and reeds, made an otter holt under a fallen tree, created two swan nests and installed a ramp onto the island for the swans to use. Although Bradley and Brooke can get on and off the island, they won’t nest there unless they feel there is easy access for their cygnets, so we’re hoping that this fits the bill! A large blockage was cleared from behind the island and several bags of litter were taken from the water, along with a deflated inflatable boat and several traffic cones. We didn’t finish until nearly 6pm and although we were very tired, wet and muddy, we all felt it had been worth the effort.
This year’s dates for the Big Spring Clean are Saturday 4th March, Thursday 23rd March and Thursday 30th March. Just as it sounds, we supply the bags and gloves and you help pick the litter!
Party in the Dark, to celebrate Earth Hour: Saturday 25th March, 8.30pm to 9.30pm. We’ll have smores, hot chocolate, star gazing and glow-in-the-dark bowling.
Tree measuring drop-in session: Thursday 16th March, 10.30am to 1pm. Part of Science Week – you’ll learn how to identify and measure trees (hugging is optional!). More info at www.dryproject.co.uk
Photos: 1 Testing out one of the new floating platforms on the lake. 2 A kayaker assists with installing the platforms.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 14 & 15). The magazine is 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.