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Big Butterfly count results at Friends of Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve

The Big Butterfly Count

For the third year running, FOSPNR and Green Abbey joined forces to organise our own local contribution to the nationwide Big Butterfly Count.

The FOSP and Green Abbey Big Butterfly Count was held at Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve on a summery Sunday, 28 July 2019, from 2pm until 4pm.

The event was well-attended, with a steady stream of families, couples and individuals all taking part, counting butterflies for fifteen minutes at sometime during the afternoon. Notes were made of which butterflies – and moths – were seen; the notes have been collated and submitted to bigbutterflycount.org

Observers reported seeing the following butterflies:

Large White,

Small White,

Green-veined White,

Gatekeeper,

Meadow Brown,

Speckled Wood,

Comma,

Painted Lady,

Small Tortoiseshell,

Red Admiral,

Holly Blue, and last but not least,

Six-spot Burnet Moth.

After helping in the Count, some people participated in a seed-planting activity. The newly-planted seeds were taken home by the people who planted them and will, in due course, grow and attract butterflies and moths.

FOSP volunteers took the opportunity on the day to ask members of the public to sign a petition asking Gloucester City Council and The Environment Agency to reduce the level of silt in Saintbridge Pond. One of the effects of too much silt in the Pond is that the Pond is no longer deep enough for the swans to swim on it.

For more details on the national scene, go the following site https://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

Further details for GREEN ABBEY can be found at :

https://www.facebook.com/groups/379358125762873/

Also we have a listing on a national website that holds Forest Church listings – you have to zoom in on the map to Gloucester to find us:

http://www.mysticchrist.co.uk/forest_church/groups

 

Jane Allen
FOSP Volunteer

Gloucester Lottery update

If you would like to support the Friends of Saintbridge Pond, why not go to www.gloucesterlottery.co.uk and search for fosp. Join us in helping to look after a beautiful wildlife area and truly expansive allotment. Come and be part of our local success story.

Bird Sightings So Far This Year

Paul, our resident Ornithologist, surveying the reed bed in early March 2019.

Spring/Summer News Updates 2019

It has been a busy time at the pond and in our allotments. The FOSP AGM provided us with an opportunity to look at what we have done and future plans for FOSP at the site. We are just custodians and will continue to improve and re-wild the site for all visitors to the pond.

The team collecting wood from around the site.

The vandalism which happened during mid-December is behind us and we are moving forward.  We also had some incidents around the feeding area but have repaired them.

Replacing the plastic on the bank after it had been pulled up
In April the established bank is in full flower

The Primroses, Wild Garlic and Celandine have produced a wonderful display on the new bank by the dam.

You may have seen us over the past couple of Sundays, clearing the wood and opening up the woodland.

Removing ‘whips from the margins of the mudflats.

BE very quiet and you might here this fellow below……. The Water Rail

One of the visitors that you could look out for is the solitary Water Rail.
  • Scientific name: Rallus aquaticus
  • Bird family: Rails, crakes and coots
  • UK conservation status: Green
  • Protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

 

Smaller and distinctly slimmer than the moorhen, the water rail is a fairly common but highly secretive inhabitant of freshwater wetlands. It has chestnut-brown and black upper parts, grey face and underparts and black-and-white barred flanks, and a long red bill. Difficult to see in the breeding season, it is relatively easier to find in winter, when it is also more numerous and widespread. Although usually secretive they can become confiding but are still far more often heard than seen, so listen very carefully near the big island.

WILLOW CLEARANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With early summer greens now making them known, the group have been clearing the Willows whips which have established themselves on the wetland margins. This keeps the vista free from obstruction and lessening the build-up of sediment and allowing flow through from up stream. We are working closely with local voluntary and national bodies to ensure that the sediment moving down will eventually be captured and held on site. We hope to reclaim the river banks for local wildlife, enabling more access & diversity for all species on the Twyver and Sudbrook.

 

Raising of the 2018/19 Green Flag.

We continue to satisfy the requirements for the Green Flag – now in our second year – well done to all volunteers for their continued effort.

The raising of the 2018/19 Green Flag on our second flag pole – 19 October 2018.

Why I became a FOSP Volunteer

Becoming a FOSP Volunteer

One of the reasons I moved to my house in Abbeydale was the lovely view over Sudbrook and the greenery beyond it.

After some time of living in Abbeydale, I noticed that my pretty view was being spoiled by litter…so I went out and collected the rubbish. A few months later, I became an official voluntary litter picker for my local area. Quite often, I would paddle along Sudbrook in my wellies, using my litter grabber to remove rubbish from the water.

Then it occurred to me that there would be other items that I had not retrieved and that would be washed down the brook – where would they end up? In Saintbridge Pond, looking a mess, causing harm to wildlife and hampering the flow of the water.

Sudbrook is near my house, so I have a vested interest in making sure that water from the brook can flow into Saintbridge Pond easily and safely. I had seen one of the information boards about FOSP, went along to the pond one Sunday morning and met some of the volunteers.

I liked the positive difference that the FOSP volunteers were making to the environment – and I became one of them.

Jane


Please help us maintain the pond and surrounding area by making a donation to help fund the work we do as volunteers. You’ll be helping us with your donation, 100% of funds received go to the work we do in conservation.[paypal_donation_button]


 

The Green Flag: Our Plans for 2018-19

by Beatrix Apperley, FOSP Secretary.

The Friends of Saintbridge Pond (FOSP) are a group of volunteers, including me, that work to conserve the flora and fauna of the nature reserve for the benefit of the environment and the public visiting the site. In 2015 I submitted my dissertation which was investigating if the site could achieve the Green Flag, a prestigious award for open spaces, ranging from play parks to nature reserves. This dissertation was then handed to the Green Flag judges on the date of their Field Assessment in order to aid the judging process. The first two years we applied for the award it we were unsuccessful, however in 2017 we achieved the award, and FOSP were delighted with this. As a result we were given feedback on how the site could improve. The Green Flag Award is an ongoing process, however, and so we will be subject to the judging of a ‘Mystery Shopper’ visit this year, and a full assessment next year. This article is a comprehensive explanation of the actions we need to undertake, taken from the feedback document, in order to stand ourselves in good stead for the upcoming assessments. Rather excitingly, there are already a few items that we have already been improving on which help towards the Green Flag and I will outline these as well.

Items to Implement

We need first and foremost to determine what physical improvements Gloucester City Council and the Environment Agency would like us to undertake. The work we undertake is based on the views of the members and each task is undertaken considering effects on natural biodiversity and the public viewpoint. Once we know the work that is expected of us, we can put that as a priority.

Secondly, we have an conscientious Health and Safety officer, and effective documentation of policies etc, but the Green Flag judges would like this information to be available to the public. We will therefore be adding a new section to the website for this to be accessible. In addition, a leaflet to outline the safety precautions taken to protect visitors to the site would be beneficial to those unsure whether to visit or not.

The flow of command and our relationship with other bodies has always been known within the group but the Green Flag judges would like this defined, so a diagram will be made to demonstrate the relationships the group has. Since the start of this article a draft of this diagram has already been produced.

We have undertaken lots of work in the wetland area of the woodland walk, opposite the main feeding area, in order to reduce leaf litter and make it more solid underfoot. This area is still under careful management to help the environment; I believe documentation of this would help the Green Flag judges.

Ongoing Work

• The website is developing greatly, and with the help of articles just like this one, the site is being populated with content from our volunteers’ wealth of knowledge.
• FOSP has recently obtained large bins for recycling metal, glass and plastic, which means we are now more easily able the litter we pick up.
• The green waste produced from our work is now left to decompose into compost on the allotments and frees up space on the nature reserve for habitat development
• The nature reserve is always under development for public use, most recently the renovation of the main feeding area last year, and in the woodland walk, increased visibility for public safety and the development of a new feeding area dedicated to our founding members.
• The Seed Swap Initiative has been set up to reduce bread being fed to the ducks, which will have a knock-on effect of fewer rats. We are currently hoping to sell bags of seed when we run events throughout the summer.
• We have a subcommittee devoted to help run fun events throughout the warmer months, in order to get people into the open and excited about nature. I am very optimistic the events will be a big success. Another article is in production reviewing how the events of this summer went.

Conclusion

To summarise, we are elated to have received the award this year, and every task that I feel is necessary to be in a good position for judging next year is well within our capabilities. I feel that if we continue with the work ongoing, and make progress on the items to implement, we will be able to achieve the award again this coming year.
All of this could not be possible without the help of our lovely loyal volunteers, and we are always grateful to them for their continued support in this, and every, endeavour. If you are interested in anything about the work we do or you would like to get involved please feel free to get in touch via the routes listed on the website, or email contact@fosp.org.uk

The Green Flag – Plans for 2018-19


Please help us maintain the pond and surrounding area by making a donation to help fund the work we do as volunteers. You’ll be helping us with your donation, 100% of funds received go to the work we do in conservation.[paypal_donation_button]


 

What is Himalayan Balsam?

Himalayan Balsam: Why this ‘pretty’ plant is such a problem?

What is Himalayan Balsam?

Himalayan Balsam was introduced to this country in 1839 as a greenhouse plant.  However, it found its way to waterside situations, such as riverbanks, the banks of streams and, importantly for us, Saintbridge Pond.

Its botanical name is ‘Impatiens glandulifera’.  ‘Impatiens’ means ‘impatient’ and refers to the plant’s method of seed dispersal.  Gardeners amongst you may recognise ‘Impatiens’ as being part of the botanical name of the Busy Lizzie, to which Himalayan Balsam is related.  The second part of the botanical name means ‘bearing glands’.

Himalayan balsam has many common names, some relating to the hat-shaped flower: policeman’s helmet; Gnome’s hatstand.  The names Himalayan Balsam and Kiss-me-on-the-Mountain came into being because the plant is from the Himalayan Mountains.

Why is it such a nuisance?

This attractive weed is a problem for a number of reasons: it grows quickly and shades other plants, so depriving them of light and killing them off. It produces a large amount of pollen over a lengthy season and because it is attractive to pollinating insects, it reduces pollination opportunities for other plants.  The nectar is very sweet and can outcompete that of other plant species.  The plant’s stem is fleshy, which means that it is not frost-proof, so Himalayan balsam dies off in the winter, leading to soil erosion.  The shallow roots of the plant also contribute to the erosion of soil.

How can it be identified? 

If you want to spot Himalayan balsam, be aware that it can grow 2 to 3 metres tall (6 to 10 feet).  It is an annual and from June to October will have purply-pink flowers.  The stems of the plant are a reddish colour.  The leaves are in threes or are opposite and are edged with small red teeth.

How does it spread? 

According to the website of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), rhs.org.uk, each plant produces as many as 800 seeds and disperses them over a wide area in an explosive way when the seed pods burst.  Seeds can be sent up to 7 metres (22 feet) from the parent plant, then transported further by any watercourses in which they land.  There are differing reports online of how long the seeds can remain viable: suggested survival times range from one to three years

How should we deal with Himalayan Balsam? 

Some conservation groups – including FOSP – have ‘balsam bashing’ events to destroy this invasive weed.  Removing Himalayan Balsam before it flowers is the most appropriate method of destruction, according to the RHS website.  Pull it up – it only has shallow roots – or cut it down.  On the other hand, if you are not confident about your weed-identification skills, you may prefer to see the flowers to be sure that you have the right suspect.  The website of the charity Plantlife, plantlife.org.uk, advises composting the weed or, if there are seeds present, burning it.  Plantlife also notes that if Himalayan balsam is not allowed to set seed, it will eventually die out.

Sources:

rhs.org.uk
plantlife.org.uk

Download Article >> What is Himalayan Balsam

Other interesting information from an article in The Telegraph Newspaper, June 2017

https://bit.ly/2NFrpVc


Please help us maintain the pond and surrounding area by making a donation to help fund the work we do as volunteers. You’ll be helping us with your donation, 100% of funds received go to the work we do in conservation.[paypal_donation_button]


 

Upcoming Events

Updated 28 Oct 2018:

After the very successful World Ocean Day Quiz Trail, Go Wild, Wildflower, and the Big Butterfly Count events that took place in June and July 2018 we are now entering the Autumn/Winter period when the weather will not be quite so easy to predict as it was in the Summer.

We are due  to have an installation ceremony for the second flag pole at the Skylark entrance so that we can raise another Green Flag to the Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve – date=tbd.

Approximate position of new flag pole at Skylark.

So -apart from that – there are no other events planned until the Spring of 2019.

We will keep you informed of any new events using our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fospnr/

and our Twitter account https://twitter.com/fospgloucester

Keep warm, dry and well fed this coming season.


Please help us maintain the pond and surrounding area by making a donation to help fund the work we do as volunteers. You’ll be helping us with your donation, 100% of funds received go to the work we do in conservation.[paypal_donation_button]


 

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