Posts Tagged ‘Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group’

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

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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Three Brooks nature group report for March

Posted on Thursday 6th April 2017 at 10:11 pm by SH (Editor)

Volunteers from the Three Brooks Local Nature Conservation Group with rubbish collected during their Big Spring Clean.

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

Monthly workday and the Big Spring Clean

Our planned March workday, working on the marsh, hit a major snag. Although the work we do on the reserve has been agreed with South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) from a conservation perspective, there have been several legislative changes over the past few years and now all water based work must also be approved by their Drainage and Flood Risk Management Team. So, until the SGC team are able to assess our plans, our team will have to stay on dry land.

So, instead we had some March Morning Madness and went on a Big Spring Clean. We collected over 29 bags of rubbish, but without a single traffic cone or shopping trolley in sight! We arranged the collection with Streetcare who rather sheepishly told me on the Monday that they couldn’t find the bags. A quick visit confirmed that it wasn’t their map reading skills that had vanished but the bags. Jason Holcombe, who works for Bradley Stoke Town Council had seen the collection and had just sorted it before any of us were even on our second coffee. Jason surpassed himself on our next spring clean by collecting the bags even before I’d sent out the email!

As well as ordinary black bags, we have been given a box of dog poo bags, so if you see us out on the reserve please feel free to ask for some. We have so far collected over 50 bags from locations in and around the reserve, although we expect to collect a few more before the campaign finishes.

In the afternoon, using some willow that we had recently coppiced, we also put in a couple of benches along the path by Campion Drive. Although they weren’t finished in time for the weary Avon Valley 10k runners that passed by us, we did later manage to persuade a brave family to test them for us! As well as benches, I discovered this week another use for willow – there was an old tradition to bury your loved ones with a willow wand as it wards off ‘evil spirits’, although I can offer no proof that it works!

More: Swans; tree measuring event »

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Three Brooks nature report for February

Posted on Sunday 12th March 2017 at 8:48 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of floating platform on lake.

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

Workdays

Our recent workdays have mostly been filled with coppicing, which is cutting hazel tree trunks down to ground level, so that in the spring, many new straight new stems will grow again from the base. Although it may look harsh, the tree does not die but is rejuvenated and most managed woodlands have a rolling programme of coppicing hazel every seven years or so.

We’ve also coppiced the large willows down by the lower newt pond, as these are getting too big to have beside paths and houses. The wood from these has been put aside to be made into some more simple seating around the reserve.

Our next workdays are on 4th March and 1st April.

Spring has arrived

The pond life on the reserve is beginning to stir with a few frogs and newts putting in an early appearance and we have enjoyed watching the birds eagerly checking out the new bird boxes we have been installing as part of National Nest Box week. We are so pleased with our new woodcrete boxes that we have placed an order for another 30. All the boxes are numbered and their place marked on a map, so this year we will have more of a chance of remembering where we put them!

The lake

Before much of the lake area is cordoned off for the planned Wessex Water work, we decided to get in early with an extra day’s volunteering. Green Gym made two floating platforms and these were launched on Sunday. We’ve never tried this before and we think we overdid the floatation side of things, as they are floating very much higher than we expected! But thank you to the three children who were brave enough to sit on board to test them for us, although if they hadn’t sunk under me I think they were always going to be fairly safe!

More: Kayaker assists with installing floating platforms »

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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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