Conservation News (current)

Conservation work on Brook Meadow
Management of Brook Meadow is essential to maintain an appropriate habitat for wildlife and to enhance the biodiversity of the site. To achieve this, the conservation group works in co-operation with the local Council and other agencies to keep the meadow in good order both for wildlife and for public use. It holds regular conservation work sessions to manage grassland, scrub and woodland and, generally, to keep the meadow clean and tidy. The rivers are primarily managed by the Environment Agency to maintain a good flow of water, avoid flooding, and to create a good habitat for fish, Water Voles and other riparian wildlife.

For Brian’s wildlife observations go to . . .

Volunteer work sessions
Regular conservation work sessions on Brook Meadow take place on the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Thursday of each month throughout the year.  See note about times below.  Everyone is welcome and tools are provided. We meet at the new tool store HQ at the end of Seagull Lane. Safety for all volunteers is a priority and risk assessments by trained members are given at each session. There is a break when refreshments are served.
The main tasks include cutting and clearing of the grassland and scrub, removing broken tree branches and keeping pedestrian paths open and clear of obstacles. Clearing litter is a priority. Children and students from local schools and colleges are welcome to join in for work experience.
Special work session are also organised from time to time e.g. hedge-laying
For further details call Jennifer Rye – 01243 376926

The group has decided, for a trial period starting in January 2019, that work sessions will start 30 minutes earlier than usual at 9.30am with a guaranteed finish time of 12 noon.

Volunteer Attendance 2018
by Colin Brotherston. 
The chart below shows the attendance of volunteers at work-sessions for the year Dec 2017 to Nov 2018. The average attendance was 10.0 on  Sundays and 11.8 on Thursdays.  The average attendance is slightly higher than in 2017 when it was 9.25 on Sundays and 11.5 on  Thursdays. While Thursday’s average attendance is higher, Sunday has less variance.
When larger numbers of volunteers attend I suggest the leader should co-opt an assistant to help manage to work parties.

Conservation Work session – Sunday 2 December 2018
Report by Maurice Lillie.  Photos by Brian Fellows.
Weather overcast, mild. Wet underfoot, muddy in parts. A good turnout of 15 volunteers arrived for the 10 o’clock briefing. Maurice, appointed leader for the morning explained the tasks to be done and the hazards to beware of both environmental and in the use of tools. Two trained first-aiders were present. Brian recorded the team in a photo.
Nigel took the power scythe to an area on the east side of the Gwynne Johnson Rowan plantation and fought through heavy undergrowth to create a new path around the back of the plantation. Pam, Jutta and Tony cleared the arisings and also around some of the Rowan Trees.
The new path will not only open up these beautiful trees for general viewing, but also improve access to the trees for management. The volunteers also cleared three scalloped patches for future lizard habitats.
Jennifer, accompanied by her grandson Inigo, Debi, and Kathy were charged with creating a hibernaculum in the south east corner of the south meadow. This is not a crime but a vital part of our work on the Meadow.

Meanwhile, Lesley took off with pickers and bags to seek out and collect litter. Lesley also cleaned the four signcases.

Dan and Terry, the latter suitably attired and armed with a strimmer, continued with river bank clearance.

Colin led Mike, Martin, and Gordon in a lopping of overhanging branches along the sides of paths around north meadow. This followed an earlier survey to decide what needed to be done and if within our capabilities. There is more to be done in the future.

Link to a review of the trees on Brook Meadow that require special attention . . .
Tree cutting report CB Dec 2018

Having completed the new Rowan path, Nigel moved to the south meadow to start cutting the next section of that meadow, scheduled to be mown this year. The ground has standing water in parts but the scythe copes with that adequately.
The 11 o’clock refreshment break at Beryl’s Seat was enjoyed by all. Chance for a natter. Jennifer asked if the idea of starting at 09.30 appealed to the assembled company. No one objected. The idea of this was to lengthen the session so that the break could be more relaxed.
Afterwards, Mike took over the power scythe and extended the wildflower area in north meadow while Pam and Jutta raked up old arisings on the previously cut area. Martin and Gordon joined the ladies in this arduous task.
Meanwhile the tree fellers were setting about removing a fallen tree to facilitate access to the grass dump in the south east corner of the north meadow for next year’s grass cut and collect. Mike cut the ‘Play Area’ on his way back to HQ.
I was delighted with the work that the volunteers had carried out with good humour.

An extra from Brian . . .

Oak tree on north meadow with retained leaves

Conservation Work session – Thursday 15th November 2018
Report by Colin Brotherston.  Photos by Brian Fellows.
Eighteen volunteers turned out on a pleasant late autumn day. The weather was overcast and mild with no wind. Colin Brotherston was leading with Jennifer Rye as co-leader. Jennifer supervised the handing out of tools while Colin welcomed volunteers and ensured that the attendance sheet was passed round for signing. The banner was put up on the gate.  After the usual brief welcome and safety instructions task were described and allocated.
The tasks were:

  • Rake up arisings from the previous cut in the south of the south meadow and re-cut as required with the power scythe.
  • Cut more scrub in the south meadow and rake arisings.
  • Cut scallops into the Gooseberry cottage path and clear arisings.
  • Remove nettles from the river bank south of the north bridge.
  • Remove low branches from trees in the south meadow and also in he the north meadow
  • Litter pick.

Dave and Terry formed a team lead by Dan to remove nettles from the river bank (task 4). A new system using the power strimmers was adopted which seemed to work very well.
Reg and Tony were chosen to operate the power scythe and proceeded to the south meadow to commence task 1.

A large team of rakers and arising clearers went to assist them generally supervised by Pam.
Gordon, Bob and Wally formed a team to remove branches from trees as per task 5.
Lesley kindly did the litter pick and sign case cleaning.

At 11.00 the group stopped for coffee and biscuits at the seat in the central meadow kindly provided by Pam in the usual efficient manner.

After coffee the tasks continued as before. The scallops (task 3) were cut by the power scythe and David and Kathy tidied them up and removed the arisings.

Tony and Reg on the bramble path

The tree cutting team moved to the north meadow.

At the end of the session a large amount of work had been done.
At 12.10 HQ was locked, all tools having been returned and wiped clean.

Views of river bank and south gate sign case after today’s clearance work.

Wildlife observations from Brian
It was good to see the first pale Hazel catkins on the bush above the north bridge – contrasting nicely with the bright orangey coloured leaves.
Hogweed and Meadowsweet are still flowering well. I also saw some Hedge Bindweed out on the Seagull Lane patch.
Kathy pointed out some interesting fungi growing on an old Willow log beside the south path. I have tentatively identified them as follows: Grey Polypore which is a fairly common fungus growing in tiers on dead wood
On the same log were some Bonnet Bell Cap which again grows in clusters on fallen logs.
During the clearance of the south east corner volunteers reported an aniseed smell, which suggested Fennel.   There is an old record of Fennel on the Brook Meadow list, but it has not been seen for many years, so I removed it from the list. However, I will keep a look out in the spring.

Conservation Work session – Sunday 4th November 2018
Report by Jennifer Rye.  Photos by Brian Fellows

Just 9 volunteers today, which meant that we welcomed a new recruit, Diana, with more than usual enthusiasm! Work was outlined at HQ as usual, tools collected into barrows, safety briefing given, photo taken and we few, we valiant few set off. The first task was to finish off raking, and disposing of arisings from the orchid area of the North Meadow, left unfinished at the last workday. Pam, Debbie and Diana, with some help from Maurice, started that off.

Meanwhile Tony and Mike took the power scythe down to the South Meadow, cutting the green paths en route, to tackle the South East corner. This had not been cut since the Environment Agency had installed the flood barrier there to protect Gooseberry Cottage, and there has been a lot of growth.
At the same time, Dan and Terry got stuck in, almost literally, planting out reed rhizomes donated by David Gattrell from Peter Pond on the newly cleared river bank just south of the north bridge. This is an important part of our River strategy aimed at encouraging the return of water votes from the Lumley Stream to the Ems river.

A much needed break for coffee, ably supplied by Pam as usual, at the causeway seat, gave us all a boost. Afterwards the North Meadow task was completed.
The South east corner looks much improved, a mighty effort by Mike and Tony together, and all the South Meadow paths are now walkable. At a future workday, they will have to be ‘sided up.’ There is still more cutting to be done in the South Meadow.
A big thank you is due to all our hard working volunteers for a mighty good morning’s work. As usual, numbers of passers by complimented us on the work that we do, and again as usual, we encouraged them to come and volunteer with us. Here’s hoping!

A busy week in sight:
Monday Nov 5 – a public consultation by the Environment Agency on the proposed flood barrier for the back of the Lumley Terraces, at 11.30 am in the Community Centre.
Friday Nov 9 – the AGM of BMCG at 7pm in the Parish Hall, to receive reports, elect the new committee and a chance for all members to have a say in the future plans for the management of the Meadow.
We’re hoping to welcome lots of members to these events.
Next workday, Thursday Nov 15, meet at HQ, Seagull Lane entrance at 10am.




All earlier reports for 2018 are on the archives pages.

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