Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Three Brooks nature reserve report for June

Posted on Friday 14th July 2017 at 9:38 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of volunteers from the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group taking a tea break.

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

Workdays

Photo of Tesco community champion Dawn Richards (left) and other volunteers from the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group with two Tesco shopping trolleys recovered from brooks in the nature reserve.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!

Community engagement

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.

More: "Wave of vandalism" on the reserve. Wessex Water project. »

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Nature conservation group report for May

Posted on Wednesday 14th June 2017 at 11:14 am by SH (Editor)

The Three Brooks swans on the lake with their cygnets. [Photo credit: Graham Bloomfield]

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

Otters on the reserve

I’m not sure which of this month’s news I’m most excited about. At the beginning of the month, the cat was well and truly out of the bag when Jen Ladley managed to video a family of the reserve’s most ‘otterly’ cute visitors, a family group of two otters and their two pups. Although we’ve known for years that otters frequently visit the reserve, it was decided not to publicise their presence. Although we have many times left out our wildlife cameras to try and get a picture of these shy nocturnal creatures, we’ve never managed more than an occasional blurry photo. Even if you’re not lucky enough to actually see an otter, you can still know they’re around as they have a habit of leaving their spraint (polite term for poo!) on top of rocks or tree stumps. I do recall from our recent Bio Blitz that it smells like jasmine tea!

Back in November, we received a call from a local resident whose fish had been taken from his pond, killed with a single bite to the head and dragged away under his fence, which does seem to suggest that the otters had been helping themselves to a free lunch.

We’ve also at times found evidence of mink on the reserve, but we’ve not seen them for a while. As otters will kill and eat mink, we assume they’ve either been predated themselves or have moved on, which is good news for our water voles and our rabbits. (In a survey it was found that 95 percent of a mink’s stomach content was rabbit.)

You may have wondered why Wessex Water had cleared the banks of all vegetation months before they started work but this was to discourage our water voles from nesting in that area as we all want as little disruption to the wildlife as is possible.

More: Swans and cygnets | Dawn Chorus | New committee »

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Three Brooks nature group report for March

Posted on Thursday 6th April 2017 at 10:11 pm by SH (Editor)

Volunteers from the Three Brooks Local Nature Conservation Group with rubbish collected during their Big Spring Clean.

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

Monthly workday and the Big Spring Clean

Our planned March workday, working on the marsh, hit a major snag. Although the work we do on the reserve has been agreed with South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) from a conservation perspective, there have been several legislative changes over the past few years and now all water based work must also be approved by their Drainage and Flood Risk Management Team. So, until the SGC team are able to assess our plans, our team will have to stay on dry land.

So, instead we had some March Morning Madness and went on a Big Spring Clean. We collected over 29 bags of rubbish, but without a single traffic cone or shopping trolley in sight! We arranged the collection with Streetcare who rather sheepishly told me on the Monday that they couldn’t find the bags. A quick visit confirmed that it wasn’t their map reading skills that had vanished but the bags. Jason Holcombe, who works for Bradley Stoke Town Council had seen the collection and had just sorted it before any of us were even on our second coffee. Jason surpassed himself on our next spring clean by collecting the bags even before I’d sent out the email!

As well as ordinary black bags, we have been given a box of dog poo bags, so if you see us out on the reserve please feel free to ask for some. We have so far collected over 50 bags from locations in and around the reserve, although we expect to collect a few more before the campaign finishes.

In the afternoon, using some willow that we had recently coppiced, we also put in a couple of benches along the path by Campion Drive. Although they weren’t finished in time for the weary Avon Valley 10k runners that passed by us, we did later manage to persuade a brave family to test them for us! As well as benches, I discovered this week another use for willow – there was an old tradition to bury your loved ones with a willow wand as it wards off ‘evil spirits’, although I can offer no proof that it works!

More: Swans; tree measuring event »

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Three Brooks nature report for February

Posted on Sunday 12th March 2017 at 8:48 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of floating platform on lake.

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

Workdays

Our recent workdays have mostly been filled with coppicing, which is cutting hazel tree trunks down to ground level, so that in the spring, many new straight new stems will grow again from the base. Although it may look harsh, the tree does not die but is rejuvenated and most managed woodlands have a rolling programme of coppicing hazel every seven years or so.

We’ve also coppiced the large willows down by the lower newt pond, as these are getting too big to have beside paths and houses. The wood from these has been put aside to be made into some more simple seating around the reserve.

Our next workdays are on 4th March and 1st April.

Spring has arrived

The pond life on the reserve is beginning to stir with a few frogs and newts putting in an early appearance and we have enjoyed watching the birds eagerly checking out the new bird boxes we have been installing as part of National Nest Box week. We are so pleased with our new woodcrete boxes that we have placed an order for another 30. All the boxes are numbered and their place marked on a map, so this year we will have more of a chance of remembering where we put them!

The lake

Before much of the lake area is cordoned off for the planned Wessex Water work, we decided to get in early with an extra day’s volunteering. Green Gym made two floating platforms and these were launched on Sunday. We’ve never tried this before and we think we overdid the floatation side of things, as they are floating very much higher than we expected! But thank you to the three children who were brave enough to sit on board to test them for us, although if they hadn’t sunk under me I think they were always going to be fairly safe!

More: Kayaker assists with installing floating platforms »

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