An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.
We were happy to welcome several new members on our last workday, including Dawn Richards who is the local community champion for Tesco stores. We were happy to see her, not just for her generous contribution to our now overflowing biscuit box, but also for her infectious laugh and ‘can do’ attitude, even on what was an extremely hot day. We spent the day cooling off in the streams, clearing blockages, removing rubbish and Himalayan balsam bashing. With considerable effort we managed to remove two Tesco trolleys that maybe had been a sacrificial offering to Trolletheus, the God of our brooks!
Trolletheus may be a God, but we were determined that Dawn should not go back empty handed, so we took them back to the store for her – although as they were really, really dirty, and so old they were pre-£1 trolleys, I’m not entirely sure the staff appreciated the thought!
To coincide with Bristol’s Festival of Nature, we signed up for the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust’s (BART) very first Water Blitz, which ran from 10th to 16th June. This was a campaign to test the water quality from any river in the Bristol Avon catchment. Of the 250 samples that have been collected, our four samples from the reserve and three from elsewhere showed that our waterways fare better than some.
Andy and I also spent a day at the library’s recent CLANG event (Connecting with others around you, Learning new things, being Active, taking Note of your surroundings and Giving your time and help to others!)
We were kept busy chatting, signing up new members and giving out free leaflets, children’s I-Spy sheets and orienteering maps, all while sipping smoothies made on an electric bike!
To be polite, we’ve been very disappointed by the recent tidal wave of vandalism that is occurring on the reserve. We’ve had a spate of tagging; fences, dog bins and the Run England sign have all been broken; and recently, the metal cover to the weir was removed, leaving a dangerous drop. Destroying the boot scrapers, the dog water bowl and the kids’ squirrel feeding station is just spiteful and petty, and painting ‘rude’ words on the trees and ripping all the notices off the boards is just juvenile.
We receive a grant of £2,000 a year from Bradley Stoke Town Council. Wasting our time and resources replacing destroyed bird boxes and noticeboards not only leaves us very little money to do any fun things, but also makes us reluctant to give up more of our free time to help out youth groups, put on events and maintain the reserve for the benefit of everyone.
We were very pleased to receive from Wessex Water the results of all their animal surveys, which confirmed for us the presence of otters and water voles, and we look forward to soon receiving their footage of the reserve taken from a drone camera. This has been taken as a baseline to ensure that when they finish they can return the reserve as closely as possible to its original state.
We went down to watch the culvert being installed; the pipes are huge and, looking at how the crane was tipping, we were rather pleased to be watching from a safe distance! The plan is for the brook to run through the pipes and into the lake, leaving the ground dry, which will make it much safer for their team to burrow under the brook and through the tump. The banks had already been cleared a while ago to dissuade any water voles from burrowing in the area.
• More information about the Wessex Water project, visit www.wessexwater.co.uk/FromeValley
Photos: 1 Conservation group volunteers take a rest during the June workday. 2 Tesco community champion Dawn Richards (left) and other volunteers. 3 & 4 Wessex Water contractors lifting pipes into position with a crane.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 32 & 33). 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.