Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

February in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Posted on Monday 12th March 2018 at 9:34 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of volunteers standing behind canoes used to collect rubbish from the lake.

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

Our February workday concentrated on the Tump. I’m told that 24 came out that day, including two newbies. They cleared bramble from the top path and both sides of the steep path leading from the top of the Tump down to the lake to make it a lot wider and allow people to zig-zag up and down if they wish, which will spread the wear on the path. I’m told that a little owl box was installed and that Robin mapped the paths which criss-cross the Tump, which showed that we have too many paths across the middle – which could explain the loss of our skylarks [they have previously nested here]. I’m informed that by lunchtime they thought of going home but decided that they couldn’t get any wetter if they tried, so stuck it out until 4pm. I’m also told that if I rub it in that I spent the day in a warm and dry museum celebrating the Chinese New Year with my Rainbow Guides, I will not last the week!

I would like to say thanks to the chap who found the little owl box in his father’s garage and who donated it to us. When I remember his name, I will!

The lake and flooding

On Sunday 18th we had an additional committee-only workday to clean the lake. Rob brought in a couple of canoes and we managed to collect eight bags of rubbish from the water, which sounds a lot but is less than in previous years. We also cut back the overhanging trees which catch litter and other floating debris, which in turn slows the flow of the water. On the island, we cut back bramble and last year’s reeds, which we used to make two swans’ nests, one in the sun and one higher up. We are hoping that Brooke will take an interest and possibly accept a new mate, although, like her, we think he would have to be a pretty special cob to fill the gaping hole left by our Bradley. Thank to you the homeowner who allowed us to leave our pile of rubbish by her driveway so that it could be easily collected the next day by Streetcare.

More: ‘Robocut’ makes short work of scrub in Bowsland Meadow »

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January in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Posted on Friday 9th February 2018 at 10:14 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of volunteers laying a hedge.

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

Hedgelaying weekend

Our year started off, as always, with our two-day hedgelaying event. Although we started hedgelaying on the reserve in 2006, it wasn’t until 2010 that some bright spark suggested that we start hedging at Primrose Bridge and lay the entire length of Bradley Stoke Way. “Won’t take long,” they said. And now here we are eight years later and the end is in sight, but only if you were half way up a fire truck’s ladder! Much of the area, on both sides of the fence, is now covered with blackthorn thickets which have greatly slowed us down. Fortunately, Green Gym have, for the last two years, gone in and have cleared the area in advance so that the Conservation Group can concentrate on just laying the hedge. This year we managed a record-breaking 42 paces, beating last year’s record of 32 paces. The weather may have been cold, but we were warmed by our traditional hot lunch cooked by our quartermaster Rob Williams, and as dusk began to fall we toasted our new hedge with his homemade sloe gin.

Sadly, our new advertising banners didn’t last long, as the one on Bowsland Meadow quickly disappeared, although the banner on Bradley Stoke Way worked well and we welcomed several newbies who had seen it. And for those who said they would have come if only they’d had more notice, the next hedgelaying weekend is on 5th/6th January 2019!

More: High water levels at the lake. RIP Bradley. »

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Conservation group review of the year

Posted on Monday 15th January 2018 at 10:10 pm by SH (Editor)

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

By Sara Messenger of the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group and Bradley Stoke Green Gym

We’ve seen many highs and lows on the reserve this year. The highs being winning the battle of the balsam, seeing our biodiversity increase, excited kids, the otters, our first swan ringing, the kingfishers, a brown long-eared bat being heard for the first time, being cheered on by the wagging tails and “thank yous” from those passing by, and the really great bunch of volunteers who turn out five times a month in all weathers to make the reserve a better place for everyone. We’ve had more than our fair share of lows though. We lost two group members, Charlotte Edwards and Colin Davies, ash dieback arrived to blight our trees, constant vandalism and graffiti scar the reserve, the lack of noctule bats by the lake and the death of our cygnet Angelo.

The year has been incredibly busy and we’ve seen many changes, including the works currently being undertaken by Wessex Water and, as part of British Science week, holding a Tree Measuring Day. Our committee changed when Andrew Deakin was finally persuaded to join it, Becks Sankey was co-opted to take on the information board project and the knowledgeable David Baker stepped down as chairman and was replaced by Paul Smith. Several of the group have completed the brushcutter training course and are now being sent on a first aid course, although we are hoping they never get to use that training! Bradley Stoke Town Council generously funded the Green Gym with branded polo shirts and high viz vests as well as supporting the conservation group with an annual grant. And, with South Gloucestershire Council and professional ecologist Rupert Higgins, we have agreed a new five-year management plan. Not bad for a group who are all unpaid volunteers, juggling their commitment to the reserve along with family and careers.

More: Green Gym has clocked up nearly 2,000 hours of work on site »

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Discovery of cygnet with “cleanly broken back” heightens concerns for other missing swans

Posted on Thursday 4th January 2018 at 7:10 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Angelo - a cygnet with the 'angel wing' condition.

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

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for a long time now, my words failing me, as I’ve no wish to pass on this sad news. As I said to the Bristol Post, “The birds are an iconic part of our town and the affection and concern that everyone has for them personifies the community spirit of Bradley Stoke.” I’m sure more people could name the swans than could name our mayor.

Our ‘week horribilis’ started with a few Facebook messages that only four cygnets (including Angelo) could be found at the lake, so on Monday 4th December we went down and checked and saw that there were indeed only the four. We were a bit concerned, as it was quite early for one to have found themselves a mate and to have left the family group, and although they have been flying more often recently, they usually fly off together before returning to the lake. Although not yet overly concerned, we still contacted PC Jamie Shiels of our local police beat team, who checked the motorway reports to see if any swans had been reported. None had.

On Tuesday some of the swans, Angelo included, were spotted heading up Stoke Brook towards Forty Acres in Stoke Gifford, and by Wednesday I could only find Brooke and one cygnet on the Three Brooks lake. On Thursday 7th December, we saw a post on our Facebook page saying there was a dead swan “under the wooden bridge”. Leaving the Green Gym in the capable hands of David Baker, Andrew Deakin and I headed off and searched the bridges along Stoke Brook and around the lake. I got stuck in knee deep mud trying to get to the island and I may have muttered more than a few words that would make my grandmother blush! We finally made it to the island, but found nothing, although we made sure that the entry points were again accessible before heading back, pausing only to clear some debris by the stone bridge. We then got another message that the “wooden bridge” was not on our reserve, but at Forty Acres, so we headed over there. After some searching, we found the bridge and a dead swan. A quick look at his flight feathers and his ring confirmed that this was our disabled cygnet, Angelo.

More: Cygnet’s death registered as a wildlife crime »

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