April in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Photo of the new pond that has appeared beside the main path behind BSCS.

An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.

Green Gym

The Green Gym have, as always, been very busy. Our tasks this month have included clearing the school bank of bramble, removing burnt-out motorbikes, cleaning off graffiti, making a new pond, planting rowans and starting the annual slog of Himalayan balsam bashing. Considering the weather we’ve had, it is a little early for balsam bashing, but, armed with hoes, we like to remove the first growth as soon as it appears. It’s an uncommon method but one that seems to be paying off as each year we have less and less balsam to contend with. The team have also created a new pond alongside the main path (behind BSCS), although maybe the underground spring created it, we just tidied it up a bit! We were asked to remove the attractive tree in front to get some light onto the water but we decided to remove the dead and unattractive blackthorn behind it instead and we now have a sizeable pond. We have in the past found a couple of newts in the water here, but as we’ve been asked not to put in plants but to let it colonise naturally, it will be a long time before it would be a suitable habitat for them to breed in. As well as some pretty ancient litter, we also found a professional dog walker’s collar and returned it, but no good deed goes unpunished and now we just need to find for her the other four that her charges left behind!

Green Gym have also managed to plant on the side bank of the Tump another 20 rowan trees supplied by SGC. The previous 60 supplied by BSTC were too small to be planted in established grass, so were planted around the community orchard. At the new site we also found an old established den, made from motorway fencing and neatly decorated with the carpet from under our harrow, and two areas where the grass had been set alight. Hopefully, the occupants will be too busy to trash the new trees, but only time will tell.

The lake

Wessex Water have finally removed all their equipment from the lake area, although as requested, they have left us the low fence around the edge of the lake. The picnic area looks quite different now and I’d quite forgotten what the plaque looked like! Our noticeboard has yet to be reinstalled, but I’ve been promised it as soon as they find where they put it! The path from Juniper Way is at present being dug up; this is because they will be installing a box for the sewage monitoring system and it requires electricity to run.

Although we cleared the island and the birds have been using it to roost, Brooke is nesting again by the path, although without a mate it would seem a futile exercise. Nugget, as we call her cygnet, would usually have been sent packing by now, but Brooke seems content to let it stay. Mute swans don’t breed in their first year, so perhaps they’re not missing out by staying at home a bit longer. The oil spills seems to have ceased and it doesn’t look as though any long lasting damage was caused, although we have purchased an oil spill kit, so if it happens again this time we will be prepared.

We were also concerned last year by the apparent absence of bats around the lake so we are planning two spring bat walks to see if they have returned now the works have finished. The walks will be open to the public and we’ll let you know the dates as soon as we can.

Second year students from BART (Bristol Avon River Trust) have, as part of their course work, been monitoring the water on the reserve and have had some interesting results. I’ve also visited another lake and have discussed with them their solution to their silt problem, so hopefully between us we can come up with a more economically viable plan to improve our lake.

Photo: A new pond has been created on the main path through the reserve, behind BSCS.

• How to contact the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group:

t: 07497 006676
e: info@three-brooks.info
w: www.three-brooks.info
Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group on Facebook

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 8). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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