By Sara Messenger of the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group and Bradley Stoke Green Gym
We’ve seen many highs and lows on the reserve this year. The highs being winning the battle of the balsam, seeing our biodiversity increase, excited kids, the otters, our first swan ringing, the kingfishers, a brown long-eared bat being heard for the first time, being cheered on by the wagging tails and “thank yous” from those passing by, and the really great bunch of volunteers who turn out five times a month in all weathers to make the reserve a better place for everyone. We’ve had more than our fair share of lows though. We lost two group members, Charlotte Edwards and Colin Davies, ash dieback arrived to blight our trees, constant vandalism and graffiti scar the reserve, the lack of noctule bats by the lake and the death of our cygnet Angelo.
The year has been incredibly busy and we’ve seen many changes, including the works currently being undertaken by Wessex Water and, as part of British Science week, holding a Tree Measuring Day. Our committee changed when Andrew Deakin was finally persuaded to join it, Becks Sankey was co-opted to take on the information board project and the knowledgeable David Baker stepped down as chairman and was replaced by Paul Smith. Several of the group have completed the brushcutter training course and are now being sent on a first aid course, although we are hoping they never get to use that training! Bradley Stoke Town Council generously funded the Green Gym with branded polo shirts and high viz vests as well as supporting the conservation group with an annual grant. And, with South Gloucestershire Council and professional ecologist Rupert Higgins, we have agreed a new five-year management plan. Not bad for a group who are all unpaid volunteers, juggling their commitment to the reserve along with family and careers.
We have completed a tremendous amount of work in 2017. Thursday’s Green Gym averages 13 volunteers each week and has clocked up nearly 2,000 hours of work on site, and the Saturday group has added well over 1,000 more. In addition to the manual work on site, the committee also put in many additional hours on administration and organizing everything from bat walks to training courses, while several members of the group have newt licences and undertake annual newt surveys of ponds, both on and off the reserve. Both groups have a steady membership, but are always on the lookout for new members. We’re a great bunch of people and you get free tea and biscuits and a great sense of achievement thrown in! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org / tel: 07497 006676 for Green Gym (every Thursday, 10am-1pm) and email@example.com / tel: 07497 006676 for the Saturday group (first Saturday of the month, 10am-4pm). So why not make us your New Year’s resolution?
Photo: Conservation group volunteers take a rest during the June workday.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 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.