An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.
November workday at The Common East
Although the pond on The Common East has been looking very tired of late, newts were found during a licensed survey so we have had to resist going in to give it a tidy up until the beginning of the ‘closed season’, which is generally November to February. Although they have not been seen in the last few months, we still wanted to do everything possible to enhance their well-being and their habitat. Newts hibernate when the temperate drops below 6°C, although they will come out to forage if the weather is warm enough, as do frogs and toads. Generally, male frogs hibernate at the bottom of the pond, and the females under rocks and vegetation, for reasons that may not be suitable to print in a family paper!
Our November workday saw us clearing as much green duck weed from the surface as we could. This is a long and tedious task as the sticklebacks like to hide just under the weed, which meant that we needed to check each net-full to ensure they could be safely returned to the pond. We also found many water snails, ramshorn snails and, surprisingly, fresh water mussels. We also cleared the edge and the boys made a valiant effort to remove silt from the pond. We’d like to offer our apologies to their neighbours, who may have seen them dumping their very dirty and smelly clothes before they were allowed inside their back doors!
The decoy ducks Barry & Kate have returned. We will remove them again in the spring if our resident pair Maurice & Millicent return, although we have been told that Millicent has been seen without her mate, so we shall just have to wait and see. We have decided to not return the butterfly boxes that were thrown in the pond yet, and we are looking at how we can repair the bench, but we have topped up the insect hotel and have introduced a few new residents, including ‘Jerry’ the stag beetle. We put some wire across the front but have made sure the sides were left open so that the hedgehog (if she’s still there) can still get in and out easily, as well as the squirrel who seems to be using it as a winter store.
We joined forces with Bradley Stoke Town Council in signing the new ‘Tree Charter’ and although there were just 800 Charter Trees released to groups across the UK, we have been incredibly lucky and have been given a Scots pine. This is one of only three conifers native to the UK. They can grow to 35m and live up to 700 years, so we feel ours has quite a way to go. Although its permanent home is still being discussed, we hope to have a tree planting ceremony when it is decided.
We were delighted that galls and oak apples we collected from our local nature reserve were boiled down in a centuries-old fashion, to make the actual ink that was used to write the charters. Not to be left out, four local Rainbow Guide units, including 1st Bradley Stoke and 2nd Stokeway, have signed the charter, and 2nd Stokeway have also planted two new fruit trees in the orchard which was started on the reserve to celebrate 100 years of Girl Guiding. For every signature collected it has been pledged that a tree will be planted so if you are interested in joining us, you can find more information at: www.bradleystoke.gov.uk/tree-charter.php
How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:
Photos: 1 Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers at The Common East. 2 Insect hotel at The Common East.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 22 & 23). 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.
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