Posts Tagged ‘Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group’

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

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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Three Brooks nature reserve report for June

Posted on Friday 14th July 2017 at 9:38 pm by SH (Editor)

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

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


Photo of Tesco community champion Dawn Richards (left) and other volunteers from the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group with two Tesco shopping trolleys recovered from brooks in the nature reserve.We were happy to welcome several new members on our last workday, including Dawn Richards who is the local community champion for Tesco stores. We were happy to see her, not just for her generous contribution to our now overflowing biscuit box, but also for her infectious laugh and ‘can do’ attitude, even on what was an extremely hot day. We spent the day cooling off in the streams, clearing blockages, removing rubbish and Himalayan balsam bashing. With considerable effort we managed to remove two Tesco trolleys that maybe had been a sacrificial offering to Trolletheus, the God of our brooks!

Trolletheus may be a God, but we were determined that Dawn should not go back empty handed, so we took them back to the store for her – although as they were really, really dirty, and so old they were pre-£1 trolleys, I’m not entirely sure the staff appreciated the thought!

Community engagement

To coincide with Bristol’s Festival of Nature, we signed up for the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust’s (BART) very first Water Blitz, which ran from 10th to 16th June. This was a campaign to test the water quality from any river in the Bristol Avon catchment. Of the 250 samples that have been collected, our four samples from the reserve and three from elsewhere showed that our waterways fare better than some.

More: "Wave of vandalism" on the reserve. Wessex Water project. »

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