Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Nature conservation group report for April

Posted on Thursday 16th May 2019 at 8:02 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of a log pile on the main island at the lake, looking towards the weir.

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

Life at the lake

No one who has been down to the lake recently could have failed to see that the islands look just a little different; the main difference being that now you can actually see them! I know I’d forgotten how big they were.

The project was arranged by the land owners (SGC) and the work was carried out by Lawrence Tree Services, who certainly had their work cut out as two of the islands have never, to my knowledge, had any work done on them. Adam told me that on ‘Island 2’ there was evidence of water voles and the beginnings of an otter holt, although if you look now you may be able to see that two new purpose built otter holts have been installed along with several habitat log piles.

The plan had been to remove the wood for us to use, but the water level was so low the pontoon became grounded with just two logs in it, so they had to abandon that plan. I’m also told that the lads can add ‘dog rescue’ to their resume, as at one point they paddled over to rescue one that had jumped into the lake and was unable to work out how to get back out!

The islands do look incredibly bare with many of the trees and the scrub gone, but we are hopeful that the long term gains will outweigh the short term losses and that the works will have improved the habitat for all of our wildlife at the lake.

To help the birds out this season, Green Gym did carry lots of reed over to the main island for nesting, being careful to not harvest it from areas where other birds might nest, and we have also installed a small duck house donated by our ‘Big Dave’. The floating platforms are not quite living up to their name at the moment, as once we had untangled their ropes from the debris we were unable to refloat them without getting into the water (something that we have recently been banned from doing). We have used the chippings from the island works to line the rather muddy lake path and, although we didn’t have enough to get all the way down, what we have done is a real improvement. Sadly, some have already sought to undo everyone’s hard work by pulling out the fence posts and throwing them in the weir, along with most of one of the habitat piles. Am I being negative in wondering how long our new lake notice board will last?

More: The Tump, newting, Savages Wood and orchards »

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Nature conservation group update for January

Posted on Thursday 7th February 2019 at 8:46 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of participants on the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group hedgelaying weekend.

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

Annual New Year hedgelaying weekend

We are now in our ninth year of hedgelaying along the entire length of Bradley Stoke Way and I think we’re getting the hang of it! Green Gym went in over Christmas and cleared 65 paces along the fence on the reserve side and Robocut was bought in to clear some of the large blackthorn patch that has in recent years crept across the verge. This, combined with the weather being kind to us, meant that we managed to lay 65 paces of hedge, which is a new record for us; we only stopped because we ran out of trees! Last year (2018) saw 42 paces and 2017 saw 32 paces, so we’re taking bets as to how far we get next year!

Photo of a bottle of homemade sloe gin.

As always, on the Sunday a hot lunch was cooked for us on site by our quartermaster Rob Williams, and as dusk began to fall we toasted our new hedge with his homemade sloe gin.

We have taken down our hedgelaying banner and replaced it with one of our generic reserve banners. Apart from our banners, the reserve now has no signage, as all the wooden reserve signs and the large Run England sign were removed many months ago by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and have yet to be replaced. Our notice board at the lake was disposed of by Wessex Water, and although SGC promised us several new boards, they have yet to make an appearance.

We have asked that the reserve be signposted on the brown information sign as you enter Bradley Stoke from Aztec West, but it was suggested that we don’t have enough footfall to warrant that (although I’m fairly sure we match the library for visitors), so we will have to remain for the moment a hidden gem!

More: Savages Wood, state of the lake and resident swans »

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Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers frustrated by bureaucracy

Posted on Saturday 19th January 2019 at 6:33 pm by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke in Bloom.An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.

As 2018 draws to a close, we look back at what we’ve achieved this year and although we didn’t get done all I had hoped to, we have, for such a small group, achieved quite a bit! High points were winning the Bees Needs’ award (for The Common East), our giant carrots at Rabbit Roundabout, the Primrose Bridge steps (see photo, below) and judging the fabulous gardens that were entered for our ever-expanding Best Front Garden competition. But there have been many low points – vandalism and graffiti lowers the morale of the group, our inability to reconnect with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their ‘In your Neighbourhood’ scheme and the lack of communication and support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), to name but a few.

The Bees Needs’ award has placed a spotlight on our work and the lack of any agreement with SGC. We have recently had a meeting with one of their officers and I am trying very hard to view our discussions in a positive light, in the hope of finally securing a positive working relationship with them, although I have yet to be convinced that this can be achieved. They seem terribly keen to ‘manage’ the group, which is great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement and creativity then self direction works better. We did in the beginning try very hard to agree a direction with SGC, but with every request being met with either a refusal or silence, we chose to do what I’m told every other ‘in Bloom’ group does, and just get on with it. ‘Better to seek forgiveness than permission’ has been suggested as a new strap line!

We are funded by Bradley Stoke Town Council, who seem to trust the knowledge and judgement of their volunteers. They understand that too many rules prevent innovation and originality and destroy the intrinsic motivation of people who volunteer because they enjoy it, find it interesting and want to be part of something that is important, both to themselves and to their community. But others seem reluctant to agree to anything, thinking they are insuring against disaster, but what they’re ensuring is mediocrity. Too many petty rules and we lose our spirit. Hopefully, they will listen to us this time as, ironically for an ‘in Bloom’ group, we do not have an infinite supply of olive branches!

And on that positive note, we really need more volunteers! I would like to see our website given an overhaul (not something I can do) and we really need more help on our workdays. You don’t need to have much experience or a great knowledge of gardening (green side up, brown side down covers most of it), but you will need working boots, a smile, an ability to eat vast amounts of biscuits and a desire to see our little town bloom! Make 2019 your year to grow, not just greenery for your town but for you to grow as a member of this community!

More: Photo of rainbow steps. Contact details for BSiB. »

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Conservation group review of the year

Posted on Saturday 5th January 2019 at 9:54 pm by SH (Editor)

Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

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

Well, that was a busy year, although I’m not sure where half of it went! And don’t even start me on the challenges that the weather sent our way. It has really been a two steps forward one step back sort of year, but maybe that is part of the fun. Despite the rain, the thorns and the aching feet, there is much fun to be had as part of our Green Gym and our Conservation Group. There has to be, or we wouldn’t do it. We’re all volunteers juggling work and family with our commitment to the reserve and all those swim, walk or fly within it.

I can tell you that the TBNCG has this year put in 1,800 hours and that Green Gym has put in 1,850 hours, but I don’t like to think of what we do just in those terms. Our unit of production isn’t the hours we work, but the intangible difference we make during those hours. Something I feel that the landowners, South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), sometimes lose sight of. Although I’m asked each quarter to log the number of hours we’ve worked (their equivalent of GNP), regretfully I’m never asked what our ‘GN satisfaction’ is, or for our ‘GN sense of achievement’. We do what we do not to bolster their figures, but because we feel it matters, because we enjoy it and learn from it, because it’s interesting, because we’re glad to be part of something bigger than ourselves and because when we’re gone we know that something we did made a difference, to ourselves, to the reserve and to our community.

The new year (2019) will, for several reasons, be quite a challenging year for our small committee. Although Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech, we have been working hard on several plans which we hope to see finalised. (We’ve quite a few dreams as well, they’re just harder to get SGC to agree to!)

If we can finalise the funding, we have plans to finally get the lake dredged and to have several new paths put in, mainly in Savages Wood and, hopefully, around the lake.

We hope to improve the Tump for the grizzled skipper butterfly and for the skylarks, and to improve the brooks for the water voles. Hopefully, we will also be allowed to put in a couple of otter holts and I have an ambition to see hares once again streaking across the Tump. This is in addition to our agreed five-year management plan and the accompanying five-mile-high pile of paperwork!

We hope you enjoyed the reserve as much as we did in 2018 and that maybe 2019 is the year that you come and join us, either on 5th/6th January for our annual hedgelaying weekend or on another of our workdays or walks.

• How to contact the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group…

t: 07497 006676
Facebook: Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 19). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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