Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

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.

Hedgelaying

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 greengym@three-brooks.info / tel: 07497 006676 for Green Gym (every Thursday, 10am–1pm) and info@three-brooks.info / 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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August in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Posted on Sunday 11th September 2016 at 9:48 pm by SH (Editor)

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

August Workday

Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Our task for our August workday was to scythe Bowsland Meadow. And while we may not have all been as glossy as a certain actor in a certain period drama, we at least know how to use a scythe properly! Sorry Aiden. Although you may look at the meadow and think we missed quite a bit, it was deliberate, as our ongoing planting plan is flourishing and the meadow now boasts quite a diverse collection of plants and we wanted to leave as many of the wildflowers as we could. We also repaired the old grass seat, cleared bramble from inside the new pond fence and marked the water’s edge (to see how quickly the water level changes), rediscovered the lost orienteering post number 8, put in a few reptile mats and taught a passer-by how to scythe, not bad for a day’s work!

We were also educated in the ancient art of Pokémon Go by the many personable youngsters who passed by searching for these elusive creatures that we were told can be found hiding on the reserve, if you possess the magical powers known as an ‘app’!

Dog walkers please help!

Pulling Himalayan balsam in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Green Gym are concentrating their efforts at the moment on ‘balsam bashing’. Himalayan balsam is a non-toxic but invasive weed that can just take over huge swathes of land, mostly by the water’s edge. It’s easy to spot as it can grow to 3 metres and has a distinctive pink flower. Keeping the numbers down is a huge task, so we are again asking all our dog walkers (and everyone else) if every time they walk on the reserve, they could pull up ten plants. They are very easy to pull up as even 3m plants only have roots that go down a couple of inches. Leave the plants on the side and then snap or stamp on the stems for good measure! The stems are quite hollow and I’m told it’s like ‘stomping on dead men’s bones’ although quite how they knew that I didn’t like to ask! For those who like to know their statistics: Each plant can produce 800 seeds; we will have 75 percent fewer spiders, 64 percent fewer beetles and 58 percent fewer ‘true’ bugs in balsam patches; and the annual cost of control is estimated at £300 million!

We can’t promise to pay you for your help, but if you send us your photos, maybe of your tallest plant or your stomping dance, we’ll come up with a prize for the best one. Either email it to: report-it@three-brooks.info or add it to our Facebook page: Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group

While balsam bashing in the brook, we came across one of the large pipes that drain into it. Big Dave twice whistled up the pipe and each time received a growl back! So either someone’s dog was hiding out or we found the den of our water deity Trolletheus. Either way, by the time we had returned with a torch the ‘Beast of Bradley Stoke’ had gone.

More: Tree Measuring Day »

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Green Gym celebrates tenth anniversary

Posted on Saturday 16th July 2016 at 10:20 pm by SH (Editor)

Green Gym tenth anniversary celebration.

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

The wet weather has continued to cause issues on the reserve, although, ironically, it has yet to fill our ‘new’ pond in Bowsland Meadow and, at the other end of the reserve, much of the bottom of the lake is visible. When you can see a seagull standing in the middle of the lake, you know it’s time to consider having it de-silted again. Or maybe we just have a seagull with very, very long legs!

Swans and cygnets

Despite all of the problems we had last month, our swans Bradley and Brooke managed to hatch two cygnets and they have continued to thrive, so we are hoping that for the first time we will be able to get them ringed. This isn’t something we could do by ourselves, as we don’t have the equipment or the experience, but we are hoping that Ed Drewitt will take a short break from being a naturalist, broadcaster, tour guide, wildlife detective and author of ‘Urban Peregrines’ to show us how it’s done. We have had to remove the ramp we made for the cygnets to climb back up from the weir, as some thought it ‘fun’ to throw it in the water on a daily basis, but we have cut back the vegetation so that they can now walk up the bank instead.

Our workdays are always the first Saturday of the month, starting at 10am behind the leisure centre. No previous experience is necessary, but please wear suitable clothing and bring your own lunch, although we provide the essential tea and biscuits!

Green Gym anniversary

Our ‘Green Gym’ has turned ten years old and we celebrated in style at the home of the TBNCG’s chair David Baker and his wife Hilary. Although we had a few showers, we had a hugely enjoyable afternoon and were delighted that Jenny Darwin, who founded the group with BTCV (British Trust of Conservation Volunteers), came along to join us. Green Gym was a concept developed by Oxford GP Dr William Bird, who thought that people would benefit both mentally and physically by getting some exercise while taking part in worthwhile tasks. The first Green Gym started in 1997 and within ten years there were 55 projects running with an estimated 6,000 people taking part.

More: Green Gym group meets every Thursday »

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