An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.
Last month it was “All things batty” and this month it seems it’s “All things birdie”! We had several reports that the swans could not be found on the lake, which is not unusual as they often wander up Stoke Brook (from the lake to Braydon Gate) teaching their young how to find food when our young tire of sharing theirs with them! However, for the first time to our knowledge, this time the family went as far as the Forty Acres reserve. Fortunately, they soon tired of their day out and returned to the lake. Whether they were in search of food or a quieter nesting site we don’t know, but the lake is in a pretty poor state. Often the birds can only get across with a combination of swimming and shuffling over the silted-up areas and often it resembles more a large neglected and sinking mud pie than a mirrored blue oasis of calm. The management committee would like to have the lake de-silted again, not only to improve the biodiversity and the habitat for our otters and birds, but to restore its function as an ‘attenuation lake’ capable of holding excess water in times of heavy rainfall. However, SGC seem to believe that the job would cost £100,000. We have yet to persuade them that Andy D, armed with a couple of buckets, would do it for much less!
We had another report that Angelo, our cygnet with the disabling ‘angel wing’ condition, was apart from the family group and that all his attempts to return were being rebuffed. Of course, every time I went to check, it was as though the cry “teacher’s coming” had gone up and they were all beautifully behaved. Angelo weighed less than his sister and has no white on him at all which suggests that he is not maturing at the same rate as his siblings. We had planned to remove him from the lake in the new year and have been searching for a reliable ‘forever home’ for him, which we believe we may have now found. My preference is, while it is still safe to do so, to leave him with his family for as long as possible, so we’ll be monitoring the situation, but we’d be grateful if you all could also keep an eye out for him and if you see anything untoward let us know, either via Facebook or email us on email@example.com
Although most of our bird boxes have been vandalised, we have this year had the money to replace them. Many of them were shop-bought woodcrete boxes (a mixture of sawdust, clay and concrete) which are durable, squirrel and water proof and do not rot or warp; they also have excellent thermal properties, as they stay cool in summer while providing cosy roosts in winter.
The other boxes were made by cherished group member Colin Davies before he passed away earlier this year and, thanks to his efforts, this month we were able to install another seven robin, five tit, five tree creeper and four bat boxes. All our boxes are numbered and they are checked on a regular basis, although I’m pretty convinced that several of them move around when we’re not looking!
Photos: 1 Angelo, a cygnet with the ‘angel wing’ condition. 2 Colin Davies repairs a dormouse box.
Three Brooks Owl Prowl report, by Paul Smith
The owl prowl on Friday 22nd September with Chris Sperring MBE had 21 guests. Despite the inclement weather (wet and breezy), Chris managed to attract the attention of one tawny owl with his calls and distressed vole imitations.
While all our guests heard the tawny owl respond to Chris, not everyone saw it fly over the group looking for the interloper on its patch.
One of the guests was so enamoured by the owl walk and the Three Brooks nature reserve that the following Monday he thanked me and said he is now actively looking to volunteer at a local nature reserve.
I have heard the owl a few times, whilst on the bat walks or down on the reserve of an evening, but I have not managed to see it myself, so anyone who does is quite lucky.
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 18 & 19). 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.