Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Three Brooks nature reserve in September

Posted on Saturday 7th October 2017 at 9:20 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Conservation group members presenting a copy of ‘Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat’’ to the library.

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

All things batty!

Thanks to the generosity of Bradley Stoke Town Council, our ‘bat walks’, unlike those in many other places, are free to the public – although I’m sure their continued popularity has as much to do with Avon Bat Group’s Stewart Rowdon’s engaging manner as with the walks being accessible to everyone. After telling us some batty tales and sharing out the bat detectors, Stewart led 25 of us off into the darkness to see what we could find. We didn’t get very far, as we discovered that the bats were using the large oak tree in the grounds of the leisure centre as a roost, so we stopped there. Several of the lads from the skate park came over to see what we were up to with a couple of them being surprisingly knowledgeable on the subject.

Although we found many bats that evening, we again found none over the lake, which is usually teeming with pipistrelles, which are the smallest bat we have on the reserve. Whether this is to do with the tunnelling works there or the low level of water we’re not sure, and as the works won’t finish until after the bats have gone into hibernation, we won’t know until next year.

Four types of bat can be found on our reserve: pipistrelle, soprano, Daubenton’s and noctule. We found that if you point the detectors down into the long grass you can hear quite a lot going on, however it’s not a new breed of ‘grass bat’ that you’ve discovered, but the crickets whose chirping is at a similar pitch to the bats!

If you have missed our walks, you don’t have to miss out completely as at Bradley Stoke Library we have ten bat detectors available for loan, complete with guides and leaflets written by our own Gill Smith and John Morris. If you head off on your own we’d suggest you choose a dry night. Remember to wear sturdy footwear and take a torch (please don’t shine it at the bats) and be mindful that the leisure centre car park closes at 10pm!

To celebrate the 21st International Bat Night, we have also donated to the library the children’s book ‘Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat’, which is sold in support of the Bat Conservation Trust. Written by novelist A S Mills and beautifully illustrated by Kate Wyatt, the story follows young Bobby, his family of bats and his first journey in the outside world.

More: Symptoms of ‘ash dieback’ spotted in the reserve »

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August in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Posted on Thursday 7th September 2017 at 11:44 pm by SH (Editor)

Swan and cygnet ringing at the lake in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke.

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

Swan ringing

Although we have in previous years wanted to ring our cygnets, we never managed to find a time when both the birds were present or the ringer’s first baby wasn’t making an appearance (welcome to young Freddie). So we were rather excited that this year it all seemed to be coming together, and mostly it did. The first flaw in our plan came when we discovered we were rather short on swan jackets, as it turned out that the three Robin had planned to borrow and the three Richard planned to borrow turned out to be the same three jackets! The second flaw was putting up a corral in knee-deep water. While the boys patiently waited for the birds to decide to all be in the corral at the same time, they discovered that the silt at the bottom of the lake was less firm under foot than they thought and that they were now thigh-deep in water. It was at this point that the cry went up and we chose to just take the birds from the lake, only for the boys to discover that they were now stuck fast in the mud and, as their waders rapidly filled with cold water, they could only watch as three of the cygnets glided past.

Weighing a cygnet at the lake in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.After that, everything went smoothly, the birds were remarkably unfazed by our attentions and the two adults and two cygnets were safely trussed up, checked over and weighed. Who knew that Ikea bags were perfect for this? (Although we’re hoping Gill remembered to wash it out before she used it again.) None of the group has the required swan ringing licence, so that part of the evening was left to Richard, who works at WWT Slimbridge and wildlife expert and author Ed Drewitt. Richard also showed us how to determine which birds are male and which are female, which is a very hands on technique! As we’re very organised, the two males have their rings on their left legs and the two females on their right. The female cygnet has been named Lily, her name was chosen by young Olivia Hayes and the male cygnet has been named Angelo by our slightly older but no less charming Emma.

I’d like to say “thank you” to everyone who helped out and to all the dog walkers who were happy to take the long way home to avoid stressing the birds while they were on land. Also to Les, who helped us try to persuade the other birds they too would like some bling.

More: Cygnet suffering from ‘angel wing’ due to bread-based diet »

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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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