Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Green Gym group tackles The Common East

Posted on Thursday 16th November 2017 at 9:55 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Bradley Stoke Green Gym volunteers at The Common East.

By Sara Messenger, Bradley Stoke Green Gym.

If you’ve spotted some strange chaps looking as though they’re auditioning for ‘Poldark: The Later Years’, it was, I suspect, the Bradley Stoke Green Gym, as they have been helping out SGC, Bradley Stoke in Bloom and Buglife.

Although Green Gym took over most of this area from the Patchway Conservation Group, an issue with the insurance supplied by SGC meant that we weren’t covered to work in this area, so until Bradley Stoke Town Council stepped in with a grant, we have been unable to do much this year.

Taking the lead from Alan Titchmarsh’s ‘Say no to the mow’ campaign, the grassy areas have deliberately been allowed to grow to their full potential with just the one hay cut a year, although previously the cuttings have been left where they fell, which isn’t ideal for wildflowers as they like a poorer soil. Buglife have a new campaign called ‘Urban Buzz’ which aims to “create amazing pollinator-rich habitats, creating corridors for bees, wasps, hoverflies, beetles, flies and butterflies to keep Bristol buzzing”, and lured by the magic word ‘free’, we agreed that The Common East was an ideal area for a joint project.

The Green Gym spent two weeks preparing the site by cutting down bramble and grass (and an occasional ground dwelling bee nest) and piling the cuttings ready to be removed. Machinery was bought in to scarify the area and children from a local school seeded it with yellow rattle, a semi parasitic plant that will reduce the amount of grass growing, in preparation for wild flower planting next year.

The pond here is looking very shabby, but as newts have been found in the pond we want to wait until ‘closed season’, which is typically November to January, before we do much tidying up.

More: Green Gym is free and open to everyone »

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Three Brooks nature reserve in October

Posted on Friday 10th November 2017 at 9:58 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.

Last month it was “All things batty” and this month it seems it’s “All things birdie”! We had several reports that the swans could not be found on the lake, which is not unusual as they often wander up Stoke Brook (from the lake to Braydon Gate) teaching their young how to find food when our young tire of sharing theirs with them! However, for the first time to our knowledge, this time the family went as far as the Forty Acres reserve. Fortunately, they soon tired of their day out and returned to the lake. Whether they were in search of food or a quieter nesting site we don’t know, but the lake is in a pretty poor state. Often the birds can only get across with a combination of swimming and shuffling over the silted-up areas and often it resembles more a large neglected and sinking mud pie than a mirrored blue oasis of calm. The management committee would like to have the lake de-silted again, not only to improve the biodiversity and the habitat for our otters and birds, but to restore its function as an ‘attenuation lake’ capable of holding excess water in times of heavy rainfall. However, SGC seem to believe that the job would cost £100,000. We have yet to persuade them that Andy D, armed with a couple of buckets, would do it for much less!

Angelo’s future

We had another report that Angelo, our cygnet with the disabling ‘angel wing’ condition, was apart from the family group and that all his attempts to return were being rebuffed. Of course, every time I went to check, it was as though the cry “teacher’s coming” had gone up and they were all beautifully behaved. Angelo weighed less than his sister and has no white on him at all which suggests that he is not maturing at the same rate as his siblings. We had planned to remove him from the lake in the new year and have been searching for a reliable ‘forever home’ for him, which we believe we may have now found. My preference is, while it is still safe to do so, to leave him with his family for as long as possible, so we’ll be monitoring the situation, but we’d be grateful if you all could also keep an eye out for him and if you see anything untoward let us know, either via Facebook or email us on

More: Bird boxes and owl prowl report »

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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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