Posts Tagged ‘swans’

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. »

Share this article:

UK_Best stuff in your city_468x60

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 »

Share this article:

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 »

Share this article:

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 »

Share this article:


Oasis Driving School, Bristol.
Bradley Stoke Journal 6 & 11-year anniversary (2019).
Ocean Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.