Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

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.


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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Three Brooks nature group report for January

Posted on Saturday 11th February 2017 at 11:19 pm by SH (Editor)

Rob Williams cooks hot food for the workers during the Three Brook Nature Conservation Group's hedgelaying weekend.

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

Although sometimes the weather has been cold, there is nothing quite so warming as a winter walk through the reserve, watching the birds squabble over the last few berries and seeing the mole hill tremble as he heads further down underground away from the frost. Apart from one very unimpressed looking poodle, who did not want to get her feet muddy, the dogs seem to be enjoying themselves greatly and we’ve been sent some fabulous photographs.


The first weekend of the year is always put aside for us to continue our project to lay a stock/dog-proof fence along the length of Bradley Stoke Way. Although our workdays are usually just the Saturday, hedgelaying is a long laborious task and requires two days. We were greatly aided this year for several reasons. The mild weather helped, some years it has been so cold the sap has frozen in the trees and the bill hooks just seemed to bounce off, or maybe it was just because our fingers were so cold that we couldn’t feel anything! The path here has at times resembled The Somme with the cold mud oozing over the top of our boots and, although it wasn’t totally dry, it was much more usable this year. But the main help this year was the preparation Green Gym had put into preparing the site. The length of tree line to be laid was covered in blackthorn 20ft deep in some places and although SGC had intended to clear the area and the meadow with machinery, this has yet to be done, so the Thursday group spent two days taking down all the blackthorn trees, bramble and scrub, removing it and making a dead hedge with the fallen trees. Because of all their hard work (and I was amazed at just how much they managed to clear), we managed to lay 33 paces of hedgeline compared to last year’s 13. Rob Williams was our quartermaster for the day and kept us warm with hot food cooked on site and also supplied us with some homemade sloe gin to toast the new hedge with. I hope newbies Ben, Becky, Ryan and Lucie don’t expect this every workday!

More: Dens, fallen trees, cygnets and mud pies »

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Three Brooks nature news for December

Posted on Friday 6th January 2017 at 9:28 pm by SH (Editor)

Staff at Giant Bristol donate inner tubes to the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.

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

The weather may be mild again, but with bare trees and muddy paths, there is no mistaking that winter has finally arrived on the reserve. At least our resident bird population have somewhere warm and dry to call home, as we’ve started to replace our old wooden bird boxes with ones made from woodcrete (a mixture of sawdust and cement). Although these are heavy and expensive, we are hoping that they will last much longer. Colin Davies, when he’s not making the boot brushes that are at the reserve exits, has made us some different style boxes and we’ll compare the two before replacing them all. Giant Bristol, the Willow Brook cycle shop, has generously donated to us several boxes of cycle inner tubes; these make great waterproof hinges for the boxes and any left over will be used as tree ties.

We have done a tremendous amount of work over the year. Green Gym volunteers have put in more than 1,840 hours of work on site, which is equal to nearly £26,000, and the Saturday group added another 1,014 hours (over £14,000). 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.

Although both groups have a steady membership, they are always on the lookout for new members. They are a great bunch of people and you get free tea and biccies and a great sense of achievement thrown in! Contact / tel: 07497 006676 for Green Gym (every Thursday, 10am–1pm) and / tel: 07497 006676 for the Saturday group (first Saturday of the month, 10am-4pm). Why not make us your New Year’s resolution?

Photo: Staff at Giant Bristol donate inner tubes.

More: Why not join the annual hedgelaying weekend on 7th/8th Jan? »

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Conservation group report for October

Posted on Tuesday 15th November 2016 at 10:40 pm by SH (Editor)

Hedgelaying in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

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

As the days get colder and the nights draw in, the reserve is changing, replacing her verdant skirts with a more subdued autumnal attire, but the cooler days don’t mean there is any less fun to be had! Just substitute blackberry picking with kicking up leaves, and splashing about in puddles and bird watching with squirrel gazing, as they sprint chattering overhead with mouthfuls of nuts to hoard away for their winter larders.

The Thursday Green Gym, when not helping to landscape the skate park and clearing the school entrance paths of bramble have been working extra hard to keep out the chill, and although a little early for coppicing hazel, they have cleared an area by the entrance to Savages Wood and have used the wood to replace the tired old fence with a new woven hazel one. Sadly, much of our time this month has been taken with litter picking and graffiti cleaning, although, regrettably for Meadowbrook School, not before they came down for the day, as their teacher was spotted trying to shield the more obscene graffiti from view! Although we are still waiting for Street Care to repair the damaged gate fence, we did remove the sharp broken edges to make it a safer.

Ponds and newts

Another of our autumn tasks is to make good the ponds and create more hibernacula for the newts to hibernate in, so we headed over to Dewfalls Pond, which is again in need of attention. Although previous surveys showed that this pond once had a great many protected great crested newts, none were found during our surveys this year, and although we planted up this pond again this year, it may have been in vain as the pond is now dry. The Huckley Way pond that we maintain is also very low on water this year, as is Davies Pond (on Jubilee Green). In fact, the pond on The Common East is the only one to have had more newts in it this year than in 2015, which is a worrying trend. Six of the group have newt licences and each year undertake additional night time surveys to review our resident newt populations, so if you see a strange person with a clipboard and high-vis jacket shining a torch over a pond in the dead of night, it may well be one of us!

More: Owl prowl. Lights, camera, action! »

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