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Three Spined Stickleback in The River Twyver

The picture above is of a 1994 Faroe Islands postage stamp with three-spined stickleback.  Its Scientific name: Gasterosteus aculaeatus. A diminutive but aggressive predator, the three-spined stickleback hunts tadpoles and small fish. It is also known for fiercely protecting its nest of eggs until they hatch. Look for it in ponds, lakes, and rivers.
It can be a freshwater fish that is about: 4-7cm. It weighs about 1g and has an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years. It can be seen throughout the year. The three-spined stickleback is a small fish found in ponds, lakes, ditches, and rivers. It is an aggressive predator, feeding on invertebrates and other small animals, including tadpoles and smaller fish. In the spring, the male develops a bright red throat and belly and performs a courtship dance to attract a mate. He builds a sheltered nest out of vegetation, under which the female will lay up to 400 eggs. The male then defends the nest from other fish until the young hatch up to four weeks later. The three-spined stickleback is the fish that is most likely to be caught when pond-dipping.

PLEASE remember to put them back when you have finished looking at them. The stream is their home…

You might find the video link below more intriguing as a learning resource as it is a laboratory-based study and observation, much better than taking live specimens home.  Watch the video at this link https://youtu.be/cBX8hWuiHTk  and you will see what I mean. The stickleback partnership is fascinating and it would be wrong to separate life-long individuals.

In the river video, they are a very inquisitive species and some individuals even stopped to pose in front of the camera. What it a couple of times and you will see what I mean.

Sometimes called baggie minnow, barstickle and other local curious names, this lively species is a curious character who has a complicated life cycle just as exciting as a Salmon. The other little know fact is they are voracious predators and takes up to three years to mature.

Follow these links below to find more information but in the meantime as FOSP vice-chair, I would like to thank and credit mrkphotography for the material – enjoy!!!

https://www.pondlife.me.uk/otherfish/stickleback.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stickleback

Latest update from around the pond

Hi Everyone,

It was brought to the committee’s attention that someone was fishing last week near where the duck, swans, gulls, & terns are fed. We’ve only been able to retrieve the float and hook this morning. As you can see from the picture, it is quite sizable and would do a lot of damage to any of the wildfowl if it had got in their gullet. The hook would tear into the delicate tissues causing an agonizing death and the lead shot would poison the affected birds if they had been able to get at it. Luckily it was caught on the bottom and The Friends…. were able to remove it

This fishing line was pulled out by the feeding area and COULD KILL OR MAIM a Swan or Duck. There is no FIshing allowed anywhere in the nature reserve boundaries.

A couple of years ago we had a swan killed due to the recklessness of a fisherman and this was dealt with very efficiently. From then on, all mature fish was removed from the reserve and signs have gone up showing no fishing (yes, they are there if you look!!). We appeal to a little common sense and decency are asking those people who like to fish to use the purpose-built pond at Coney Hill park, just off Metz way.

Using the website https://what3words.com/ Esther’s lake can be found below.

It would be greatly appreciated by all if you use this site.  but please enjoy looking at the wonderful scenery around the reserve.

The reeds across the pond Feb 2021

Project updates 2021

2021 started off with the group meeting up at the beginning of the year but were forced to stop all group activity. So individuals are now working on separate projects within our 2021 plan.

Raised Beds. These are in the process of being removed and the ground flattened so brand new versions can be constructed on the site. We have big plans ahead in this area working within the community – watch this space for news.

New wildlife pond

The ground has been prepared to take a full pond which will encourage amphibians, native UK plants and a thriving invertebrate population along the margins of the access road alongside the balancing pond. Stages one and Two are below with a short description.

Marking out the extend and digging down
Stage two of the wildlife pond

The Allotments are being made ready for the coming spring.

Establishing a defined path and border, ensures the difference between an unwanted crop and produce in the spring.

Ensuring new growth in the spring along the wooded hedgerows and pond borders.

In the winter, opening up the spaces in between the individual trees ensures that light gets in at ground level. Easier for smaller plants to populate these areas later in the growing season.

Making the path margins in the spinney safer by playing in revetments to keep the woodchip in place.

The First of many revetments to go along the spinney walk.

And we have our usual friends keeping us company!

Where to find us

 

Local Focus on The Water Rail ‘Rallus aquaticus’

 

The Water Rail or Rallus Aquaticus is one of the genuine oddities among British birds.
Many of its antics can engage is partly because almost every observation in is the elusive species seems tinged with a sense of unexpected revelation.
From its bizarre squealing voice to its occasional penchant for impaling wrens with a spear thrust of its long bill, its plumage, a mixture of brands, grazing buffs, camouflage is it well, dangerous. Every movement it makes seems to be considered beforehand and carried out with stealth.

When can I see them?

The Water Rails which can be found at Saintbridge Nature Reserve are remarkably bold, venturing right out into the open in the middle of the day around mid-afternoon or dusk, where they appear to act as if they still invisible.
There have been two sightings of the water rail on the reserve at different sites.
The Water Rail can be seen foraging in the low silt by the green seat in the wood but you have to be quick to catch them because it looks like a coot or moorhen and it moves a different way. The bird moves like a rodent with its white flash of the tail disappearing into the reeds. The old West country name is skittycock or stickycoot while it is also known as Velvet Runner or Brook Runner.  Sometimes it can be found nearly the other feeding site on the opposite side of the pond again in the thick vegetation.



The little Known History of the Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

Absent from most upland areas, they are widespread but thinly distributed across much of Britain and Ireland. Two centuries ago, Thomas Bewick accurately describes the Water Rail as ‘a bird of low wet places much overgrown with sedges reeds and other coarse herbage, amongst which it shelters and feeds in hidden security’.
The stronghold of the Water Rail is south-easterly from Hampshire to Norfolk in the West Midlands, in southern Scotland near the Forth and Clyde estuaries and especially in central Ireland in which country are almost twice as many water rails as there are in Britain.
At one point, in the bird keeping records, the Water Rail was amongst the top 10 most exclusive of birds to see.

So where did the name come from?

The best means of locating a water rail is by its strange voice. An old name for the bird in Norfolk was ‘Sharmer’ or ‘Sharming’ has since become a standard description of the bird’s delivery of its piercing call. It is usually likened to screaming piglets, although water rails repertoire, provokes a wide range of colourful descriptions such as heart rendering and facing groans or a curious rolling out between the purring of the cat to the sound of a frog incessantly uttering purring noises and finally a subdued sort of grunt of a cork being removed from a bottle.

Associated Place Names
Another ancient strand of names Werecock or Warcock which stands for Weir which is a pool gives rise to Warcock Hill in Lancashire which may well be the only place in Britain to commemorate the species.


The Water Rail is largely eating insects or vegetation in its lifestyle and is usually quite timid however, cold weather triggers the registry behaviour that seems very out of character with its diet. It will take and attack other types of bird species. How it does this is to run the bird through with its stiletto like bill seizing the live prey and/or then drowning it. Both methods almost certainly benefit from the victim’s failure to recognise the bird as a threat and chance opportunity seems to force a large part of the behaviour.

I will give you an example. A single Water Rail was introduced to a large aviary and was seen to eat or kill a Greenfinch and a Chinese Quail.

So when it comes to interacting with people, the water rail can be quite tame, walking over the feet of observers. The Water Rail just ignores them and also they are very clever at our findings potential food. For instance, bird ringers working in reedbeds are especially wary of leaving their nets and intended because water rails are well-known to help themselves to a ready course meal tangled in the lowest shelf of the net. At the RSPB’s Leighton Ross reserve routinely scattered 200 to 300 sprats during exceptional cold spells as supplementary food for the winter and Bittern, then that many of these were being taken by an equally hungry band of water rails. Baited traps to try to catch a bit in this part of the radio tracking study their efforts were thwarted because water rails ate all the fish bait. Even placing the fish at a height that was thought only Bitterns could reach, did not work because the water rails learned to jump up and grabbed the fish off it took so activating the trap.
Lord William Percy trained one weird water rail to jump for worms on his improvised fishing rod. So, the water rail is a very intelligent species.

The Water Rail

Water Rails at the Reserve.
So here’s a few little facts about the water rail to impress your friends when you visit the reserve plus local links to the records.

There are two individuals FOSP know of within the area and one further north at the Arboretum. The site survey below confirms it. Perhaps they are moving up and down the rivers Sudbrook and Twyver throughout the year. However, one can be found at the reserve every day.

Details are taken from the website below

For more details:

https://species.nbnatlas.org/species/NHMSYS0000530803#tab_recordsView


Identification

it is 23 to 28 cm long, smaller than a moorhen, pepperpot streaky brown, underparts blue-grey, with grey and white barring on the flanks and white under the tail. Bill is long and red. Long legs and toes trail in flight. The juvenile has a brown face with a pale stripe over the eye, paler, more mottled underparts, a pale throat and a dark bill. After nesting, adults undergo the annual moult. Flight feathers are lost simultaneously and they are flightless for about three weeks.

Habits
Usually shy and skulking, and more often heard and seen in winter or when it becomes used to people, the Water Rail can be surprisingly seen on a regular basis. It is usually solitary outside the breeding season and defends a winter territory. It’s slim body allows it to slip through dense waterside vegetation. Walking cautiously, flicking its tail. When alarmed it will run, head down to cover. Frequently swims over short distances. The flight appears weaker using rather long wings.

Voice
It makes a variety of grunts and squeals during the day and night. The most obvious call is the drawn-out squealing shriek, rather like a piglet.


Food
It feeds in the water and on land. Catches small fish, freshwater shrimps, frogs, small snails, insects and their larvae. Eats berries and other fruit, shoots and roots of plants such as watercress. it will catch and eat small birds and eats carrion.

Breeding
It breeds in dense reed beds and marshes with low cover and some open muddy areas. Also along rivers, around lakes and ponds and in the winter, close to other wet places. Usually, it is associated with freshwater. Visits brackish lagoons and salt marshes.
It nests on the ground amongst dense vegetation close to the water, Water Rails lay between March and June and then the young are brooded in the nest for a few days, fed by both parents. Once they’re out of the nest, they soon feed themselves and fly within 20 to 30 days and become independent about 55 days later. They continue breeding well into August with the second brood.


Movements and migrations
British and Irish Water Rails are mainly resident. Northern populations are migratory during October and November, Britain receives birds from northern and eastern Europe. These individuals return in the following March and April. The oldest ringed bird lived for over eight years.

Population
There are thought to be over 1,100 territories in Britain and a further 1,000 – 2,500 in Ireland. There is some evidence that the breeding population is falling in several parts of its range including the UK.
The Water Rail is thinly scattered over much of lowland Britain with larger concentrations in East Anglia. Ireland has higher densities of water rails than Britain. Winter distribution is similar, but with rather more individuals being seen in southern England. It breeds in Europe from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia and east into Russia. And can also be found in Asia and North Africa.

Conservation
Once common but now due to the drainage of marshes and freshwater and loss of vegetation along waterways, there are reduced numbers. It is adversely affected by several winters that freeze over shallow water, and dry summers may also present problems. Conversely, changing water levels during wet summers destroy active nests. Recent initiatives by the RSPB and other conservation bodies recreated large reedbeds and this should help the species.

Radio Interview and Article with FOSP vice-chair

Last Sunday, The Vice-chair of FOSP carried out an interview with Nicky from BBC Radio Gloucester. Please listen below but in response to the familiar, ‘you’re doing a good job‘ comment, around the pond, in the article below is outlined the goals and ideals set out by FOSP (The Friends…), whilst working with its partners.

Radio Interview January  2021 with Nicky Price, BBC Radio Gloucestershire @ BBC

 

 

 

Once again, The Friends of Saintbridge Pond (The Friends…) has been awarded The Green Flag.

The outstanding work and community pride in getting this for the third year go out to all the volunteers who have given their free time to make this green oasis a gem in the City of Gloucester.

What it reflects is the ‘natural standard for green spaces and aims to reflect that nature of good urban green spaces.

Swimming Rat with Bread – P Wilson

Frequently asked questions about  The Friends.. and their work

To start with, the Green Flag Scheme was first launched in 1966 and is now widely accepted as the benchmark for green spaces as 69% of Local Authorities use the award. Besides, it is said that the Green Flag Award criteria are closest to indicators of national quality for England and Wales.

So what makes a site so special?.

Well, it is an analysis based on its fitness for purpose, through quality judgment based on local need. These quality judgments are both subjective, concerning aesthetics, and objective, regarding facilities. By looking at a study that was carried out a couple of years ago, there are eight indicators that can be viewed in the document below.

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There are eight areas of excellence to fulfill against the Green Flag Award Criteria, for the site, potentially, to continue to receive the award.

Criteria 1, 2 and 3 – For these three criteria, the public were asked on a scale to what extent they would describe Saintbridge Pond as a place to visit.


Criteria 4 and 5 – For these criteria, again, the site was evaluated against the Green Flag Award guide, but additionally, several Habitat Surveys of the site have been carried out, to industry-standard, demonstrating the high habitat diversity of the site.


Criteria 6 – Multiple questionnaires were created, considering the inclusion of different areas of Gloucester, age groups, genders, as well as uses of the site and frequency of use. Besides, the public was asked how they would describe the site, and this was used to create a word cloud.

Criteria 7 – Current and previous marketing were outlined, and marketing options suggested from the Friend’s activities, including how events could be publicised and the scale of community inclusion.


Criteria 8 – The features suggested from four sources were tabulated and featured in a proposed action plan, with justification from sources stated, and who, how, when, how and cost.

So what do The Friends… actually do?

The effective time and effort put into the conservation work carried out have led to the biodiversity we can see today.

Woodpecker at home on the reserve – P Wilson

This pays long-term dividends for all and that is something that FOSP members give instinctively. We are proud to work with our partners and would like to thank The Friends of Barnwood Arboretum (FOBA), The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Saintbridge Allotments Group Association (SAGA)  who have all been awarded the Green Flags. We all believe that wildlife is the first priority to creating a wonderful ecological balance between a precious resource and cultivation. That passion from nature is more important than biological knowledge.

Primula Species – P Wilson
Snowdrops in the Spinney by P Wilson

The work that The Friends…. put into the woodland walk or spinney, is just part of the bigger management plan to look after the site, along with our local partners.

Why have the visitor numbers increased since last year?

Since March 2020, the footfall around the pond has increased, especially in the early spring, into summer and even individuals have stayed out all day in the warmer weather around the pond at its margins. What draws people of all ages, I suppose is that it is attractive to anyone looking to get out and be with their friends and although we’ve been told not to mix, just being in a few metres from other living beings, we all feel connected.

Why do people visit?

Unknowingly, it may be part of mankind’s genetic make-up to respect the need for natural space. Wilson (1984) theorised the concept of ‘biophilia’, which states humans have an inherent affiliation, as a species, to the natural environment. This is both through genetics and cultural experiences of stimulation from nature.  It is important for health to be exposed to natural environments because it promotes psychological restoration and encourages physical activity and social interaction. With an emphasis on the latter, it’s important to note that if society becomes detached from nature, it is the responsibility of The Friends… to be a part of this cause to bring them back to appreciate the natural world.  It offers a place for reflection and fitness, family, or nature. Experiencing nature leads to increased cognitive abilities and inspiration to protect the environment.

Foxes and Corvids at one by P Wilson

What drives FOSP individuals and the group as a whole?

It is a feeling of belonging leads that leads to an increased likelihood of caring for the environment. It is the role of Saintbridge Balancing Pond & Reserve to be aesthetically stimulating to the extent that FOSP volunteers feel a sense of belonging, and therefore assign a high value to the site.

As our mission statement states:
We are a group of dedicated volunteers who meet twice a month and during the week in conjunction with our partners. We aim to maintain and develop the balancing pond as a nature reserve.
Our partners are Gloucester City Council, the Environment Agency, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and Saintbridge Allotment Gardens Association. We work together to make the balancing pond more than just a flood relief structure.
Overall, we endeavor to make the site accessible to everyone, ensuring it is a pleasant and relaxing oasis for wildlife and people alike

Dillie showing full Speculum before landing on water, common to most waterfowl – P Wilson

Environmental Benefits of the Surrounding Area

The Dry Balancing Pond, which is situated North-East of the pond itself is there to filter in any excess water which flows down from the Cotswold Escarpment and this is funnelled through the dam where, it flows out the balancing pond and then through the city, ending up in the River Severn.

Water in Dry Balancing Pond – P Wilson
Flooded Path in Spinney – P Wilson

Due to the numerous trees and aquatic bacteria, this improves the local air quality, through the removal and deposition of carbon from the atmosphere, which is stored in the living material and soil. However, with the number of trees on the site and climate change adaptation, this would have a substantial diminishing effect on the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the local area.
 
Pollination from the many tree and flower species offers a large volume to pollinator species during the summer months, like bees butterflies and moths.  The Biodiversity Potential for the flora and fauna species found at Saintbridge Balancing Pond are diverse, and many of them are visible on any one visit to the site. In terms of biology, an increase in species richness, especially of bird and plant species, has been found to increase psychological well-being. Interestingly, high-quality small areas were seen to be more valuable than having low-quality large areas or a higher quantity of areas in general.

FOSP considers the future management of green space to be considerate of habitat patches and the connectivity of this mosaic, both to increase biodiversity and enhances the well-being of urban populations.

Finally, the Noise Attenuation in this area of Gloucester is minimal, with the main roads some distance from the site. As well as this, the tall tree species offer some sound protection from external sources.

Resident Swans – P Wilson

 
The Future of Friends of the Pond
This is a flagship project, as the site does not discriminate, with open access all times of the year, and encourages walking or other sporting activities.

We’ve met the following criteria 

a) Support an active community
b) Reduce social and economic disadvantage
c) Reduce carbon emissions
d) Protect and enhance biodiversity
e) Protect built and natural heritage
f) Encourage good quality design

Finally, the natural boundaries around Saintbridge Balancing Pond are considered a priority by FOSP members and so that is our focus to improve these aspects, which therefore increases biodiversity. Although the site does not have ancient buildings which could be referred to as heritage, if Saintbridge Balancing Pond is continuously cared for by all interested parties, it could be considered as a place for community pride and heritage status for Gloucester in the future.

Follow these links to take you directly to the following websites
Contacts: Friends of Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve | Taking Nature In Its Stride
Friends of Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve in Gloucester
o Twitter FOSP Gloucester @fospgloucester
o Facebook Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve
o Nextdoor Friends of Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve & Garden Allotments
o https://greenflagaward.org/park-summary/?park=2470
o http://saintbridge.org.uk/

Blackbird in situ – P Wilson

Feeding Ducks, Pest Control and Human Health

Before continuing to the article, please watch the public information film from the River and Canal Trust about this growing problem.

Duck talk

Changing the way we feed the ducks.

It’s one of the most joyful things you can do with the kids on a Sunday afternoon – head down to the banks of your canal or river and feed the ducks out in the sunshine. There are concerns, however, that ducks are being fed too much bread in overcrowded hotspots, so the Canal & River Trust is launching a new campaign to try to redress the balance. Trust ecologist Chantal Dave tells us more.

What’s a natural diet for a duck?

Mallards, a common species of duck on the waterways, usually eat a varied diet of seeds, acorns, berries, plant matter, fish eggs, worms and snails.

So what should we be feeding the ducks?

Try seeds, corn and perhaps even defrosted frozen peas. One food I’ve noticed goes down well is porridge oats. Bird seed is another great option, too. And they don’t need a huge amount – just a small scattering will do.

How have ducks responded to these alternatives so far?

There has been some initial feedback saying the ducks aren’t taking to it so well as the bread but I think this is simply because they’re not used to it, especially if it’s a popular feeding site and they’re used to eating bread. My advice is – be persistent and keep trying with the healthier food. They’ll get used to it in time!

Why is bread bad for ducks, then?

Too much bread, particularly white bread, has been found to be unhealthy for humans, so how can we expect it to be good for ducks? It’s low in nutrients and can be very stodgy for wildfowl to deal with. Another issue is that any scraps of bread left uneaten in the water can quickly harbour bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism in ducks if they happen to eat it. Uneaten scraps also attract vermin, such as rats.

And how can food affect the water?

Too much food thrown into a manmade body of water, such as a canal – which has a slow-moving flow – can cause a build-up of too many nutrients in the water and encourage algal growth. This algae, such as duckweed, starves the water of oxygen and blocks out sunlight, having a detrimental effect on the ecology of the canal. So as well as encouraging people to feed the ducks healthier alternatives to bread, we’re also recommending they avoid the overcrowded feeding hotspots. Instead, try taking your pouch of food a couple of miles up the towpath and spread the love a bit more.

Interview: Abigail Whyte (taken from the website)

Links  https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/blogs/waterfront/duck-talk
WEILS DISEASE: & WILDFOWL FEEDING

I need to draw attention to this disease which has received recent publicity due to several complaints about the rat numbers around the reserve. Within the Current COVID Crisis, footfall around the pond has increased with the numbers exploring this great resource. However, there is a problem, with the increase in the grain and mainly bread left at the feeding sites (along with the litter), the rat pest population has increased and they have become more brazen. 
 

 

In order, to stem the amount of bread and other material left on the bank, we will be installing the above sign to inform everyone of the dangers of leaving food on the bank.

These pests have been getting used to human contact, seeing ‘us’ as a food source over the past couple of months. Also, people have been getting them confused with ‘water rats’ or voles which is a completely different secretive species. The public confusion lies with Rat (better known as Ratty) as one of the four main characters in the 1908 book The Wind of the Willows. He is in fact, a water vole (referred to as a water rat in the book) who lives at a riverbank

Differences between the Rat and Vole
This is the common pest called a rat
One distinct feature that sets water voles apart from brown rats is the ears.
The Shy & Secretive Water Vole –
Water voles (above) have ears buried under their fur, while brown rats have very prominent ears that stick up above their head. Their tails are also very different. Water voles have short tails that are thin and furry. Brown rats have scaly and long tails that are over half their body’s length.

The Nature of Weil’s Disease
Weil’s disease (Leptospira) is a bacterial infection carried in rats’ urine which contaminates water and wet river banks. The bacteria do not survive for long in dry conditions. It can occur in any water, including swift streams and rivers, but the likelihood of becoming infected is greater from stagnant or slow-moving waterways.

The highest risk is to farmers and vets who are most likely to come into direct contact with infected urine or blood. The next level of risk is from contaminated water to fishermen, water sports enthusiasts, etc. Finally, there is a small risk of catching Weil’s Disease from contact with soil.
Leptospira can live up to several months in water and plays an important role as a source of transmission of leptospirosis. Leptospira needs an optimal environment to live and to reproduce such as a moist atmosphere, temperatures around 25˚C, and pH near neutral (±7).
Dry weather conditions, strong sunlight, water, and soil pH outside the range of 6.2 to 8.0 do not support the growth of Leptospira.
I need to repeat this, the disease itself is relatively rare, thus the overall risk of contracting it is small.
However, it can be a serious illness requiring hospital treatment and can lead to kidney or liver failure, and so all reasonable precautions to avoid infection must be taken.
If you fall ill with the symptoms overleaf, particularly from three to nineteen days afterward, I urge you to see your doctor immediately.

Please note:
The most common mild symptoms are high temperature, a flu-like illness, and joint and muscle pains. You should inform his/her doctor about the activities in which he/she has been involved.

PRECAUTIONS FOR  FEEDING THE WILDFOWL NOT WILDLIFE (RATS)

As FOSP Vice-chair, I would like to recommend the following actions:

1. Activities where children are repeatedly close to stagnant or slow-moving water.
Please do not let them sit or touch the grass or the muddy bank, and stay at least a metre away from the edge of the water. Make sure all food falls on the water surface. The reason for this is that the ducks will be the only ones to feed on your food.

2. Please don’t empty your food contents on the floor near the bank when you leave.
After you have finished, please take all seed or bread meant for the birds’ home or put it in the bins provided around the pond.

3. If the ducks do not seem to be interested, do not feed the rats. Please stop immediately and save your food resources. Explain to children that they are not hungry at the moment and we are only here to feed the ducks. These rats are very resourceful and can find their food naturally.

4. Once you have the opportunity, please ensure that you wash your hands after feeding the ducks.

5. Before setting out, any cuts or grazes should be covered by a waterproof plaster.

6. Please wear strong shoes or waterproof boots when near the water’s edge to avoid slipping or accidental cuts throughout the year.

7. If parents or children develop a flu-like illness after visiting the pond, they should consult their GP as early as possible.

The precautionary measures detailed should reduce the risk of leptospirosis.






Reducing Local Vandalism

 

in situ

As vice-chair and acting secretary of the Friends of Saintbridge Pond (FOSP), I’m representing all our members. Our group looks after the balancing pond located between most or near to your wards. We are green flag winners for two years running. Visit the website for more details https://greenflagaward.org/. The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

I fear that local vandalism and anti-social behaviour are beginning to rise during this current pandemic. In all the history of The Friends…, we have had a little graffiti problem but this is a defined tag of a local individual or group.

I feel that our good work is about to be disrupted due to some of this ‘tagging’ which has recently appeared on the dam near the dry balancing pond. This haunt is also used by the locals who enjoy a ‘smoke’, watching some football (must have great wi-fi), and generally milling about but the graffiti is a recent development since this Saturday 14th November 2020.

large tag  

low wall

You can see for yourself in the photographs.

It is very unsightly and does not help build towards the natural environment the Friends… is working to protect. Also, in all your particular wards, you may have seen similar tags, again detracting from the good work, aiming to build into community cohesion. If we can stop this here at Saintbridge Nature Reserve with your help, perhaps we can reduce vandalism locally in the surrounding Gloucester wards.

The solution to halting this initial vandalism could be the following.

 

 

Initially, I have informed local councilors, PCSO’s, and Gloucestershire City Council. I have received a favourable response from one councilor who is willing to help.

Could the local PCSO’s find out who’s tag this is and let them know that they are welcome to use the natural green space but not to spoil it for the general visiting public. Possibly a warning not to do it again. Also, more walking patrols around the pond (weekends and evenings) and surrounding areas to deter any anti-social behaviour. (including motorbike activity around the back of Birch avenue residential gardens adjacent to the river Twyver.) You are more likely to hear it than see it.

I am also requesting that a Gloucester City Council clear up team come out and please remove this graffiti and then treat the wall with an anti-graffiti spray on the surrounding walls so it will be effective against future attacks.

TO FINISH ON SOME FRIENDS OF… GOOD NEWS

path
Here is some of the good work we’ve carried out quite recently, making part of a well-defined path to the spinney safe for all walkers. The path was becoming very dangerous so we put down a safe surface with available materials.

DSCF3735

If you have never visited us, please come and have a look at the spinney, wet meadow, and wonderful wildfowl found on the reserve. If you want to find out more information about our group, please visit our website at https://fosp.org.uk/.

 

DSCF3740
You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Next Door.

best regards to all.

FOSP vice chair & acting secretary

FOSP Freshwater Species Survey 2020 and Recovery Plan

 

In September 2020,  a brief survey of two sites within the balancing and tributaries were taken. FOSP members spent a morning looking at the biodiversity within the site and a shortlist was compiled. Here are the 2020 results:

Still water by the Dam

Taxon

Abundance

Sericostoma personatum

30

Potamophylax sp. Lat/cing

40

Gammarus pulex

300

Potamophyrgus antipodarum

40

Sphaerium corneum

1

Pisidium subtruncatum

10

Oligochaeta

10

Chironomidae

10

Glossiphonia complanata

1

Elmis aenea

5

Dendrocoelum lacteum

 

 

River Twyver above Pond below

Taxon

Abundance

Gammarus pulex

300

Potamophylax sp. Lat/cing

2

Dendrocoelum lacteum

2

Pisidium subtruncatum

3

Trocheta subviridis

1

Prodiamesa olivacea

7

Prodcladius sp.

1

Chironomini

1

Dugesia tigrina

10

Radix balthica

1

Glossiphonia complanata

50

Asellus aquaticus

50

Oligochaeta

120

Potamopyrgus antipodarum

120

Tipula lateralis

1

Baetis rhodani

2

Simulium ornatum grp.

 

 

In the spring of 2021, there will be another chance to have a look at our little oasis again.

So Why is Biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is vanishing from rivers, lakes, and wetlands at an alarming speed. A plan, developed by a global team of scientists from WWT, WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International, the University of Cardiff and other eminent organisations and academic institutions,  is the first comprehensive plan to protect and restore freshwater habitats, which host more species per square kilometre than land or oceans – and are losing this extraordinary biodiversity two or three times faster.   A key element of the 2020 Living Planet Report’s Freshwater Deep Dive, the Recovery Plan gives us a framework from which we can push for greater freshwater representation in the new CBD Post-2020 targets.

Published in BioScience, the Emergency Recovery Plan calls for the world to take urgent steps to tackle the threats that have led the 84% collapse in freshwater biodiversity and the degradation of 90% of the world’s wetlands reported in the 2020 Living Planet Index report – ecosystems that provide us with water, food, livelihoods, and protection from floods, droughts, and storms.

The six-point plan prioritises solutions that are rooted in cutting edge science and have already proven successful in certain locations:

1. Letting rivers flow more naturally
2. Reducing pollution
3. Protecting critical wetland habitats
4. Ending overfishing and unsustainable sand mining in rivers and lakes
5.Controlling invasive species
6. Safeguarding and restoring river connectivity through better planning of dams and other   infrastructure

WWT’s Director of Conservation Dr. James Robinson said:

Our newly published Emergency Recovery Plan presents an outline of straightforward and pragmatic solutions to the freshwater biodiversity crisis that are already proven to work. A strategic approach to the implementation of these measures is vital if we are to make a global impact.
Wetlands are natural super systems that sustain an extraordinary level of biodiversity. We must act now to protect them.

Critically, with governments meeting in November to agree on a new global deal to conserve and restore biodiversity at a landmark conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the authors recommend some new targets, including on restoring water flows, controlling illegal and unregulated sand mining in rivers, and improving the management of freshwater fisheries that feed hundreds of millions of people.

Nowhere is the biodiversity crisis more acute than in the world’s rivers, lakes and wetlands – with over a quarter of freshwater species now heading for extinction.
The Emergency Recovery Plan can halt this decades-long decline and restore life to our dying freshwater ecosystems, which underpin all of our societies and economies.

Dave Tickner, WWF-UK Chief Freshwater Advisor and lead author on the paper

Covering approximately 1% of the Earth’s surface, rivers, lakes and freshwater wetlands are home to 10% of all species and more described fish species than in all the world’s oceans. But they are rapidly disappearing with populations of freshwater megafaunas – such as river dolphins, sturgeon, beavers, crocodiles and giant turtles – crashing by 88% in the past half-century.

The causes of the global collapse in freshwater biodiversity are no secret, yet the world has consistently failed to act, turning a blind eye to the worsening crisis even though healthy freshwater ecosystems are central to our survival.
The Emergency Recovery Plan provides an ambitious roadmap to safeguarding freshwater biodiversity – and all the benefits it provides to people across the world.

Co-author, Professor Steven Cooke of Carleton University in Canada

The Emergency Recovery Plan highlights a variety of measures that together will transform the management and health of rivers, lakes and wetlands, such as treating more than 20% of sewage before it is flushed into nature, avoiding dams on the world’s remaining free-flowing rivers, and expanding and strengthening protected areas in partnership with local communities.

All the solutions in the Emergency Recovery Plan have been tried and tested somewhere in the world: they are realistic, pragmatic and they work.
We are calling on governments, investors, companies and communities to prioritise freshwater biodiversity – often neglected by the conservation and water management worlds. Now is the time to implement these solutions, before it is too late.

James Dalton, Director of IUCN’s Global Water Programme

“We have the last opportunity to create a world with rivers and lakes that once again teem with wildlife, and with wetlands that are healthy enough to sustain our communities and cities, but only if we stop treating them like sewers and wastelands,” said Tickner. “This decade will be critical for freshwater biodiversity: countries must seize the chance to keep our life support systems running by ensuring freshwater conservation and restoration are central to a New Deal for Nature and People.”

Find out more about the recovery plan here

https://medium.com/@WWF/tackling-the-worlds-forgotten-crisis-an-emergency-recovery-plan-for-freshwater-biodiversity-70dd580c8474

FOSP Volunteer Sessions Official Restart 2020

Hi Everyone,
Just to note to everyone in the group and prospective volunteers that our fortnightly meets are taking place every 1st & 3rd Sunday of Every Month.   There are opportunities to work within the week on our allotments or around the reserve too.

Taking into consideration, COVID -19 rules, we meet at 10.00 am at the Green Container and work in twos or threes around the pond or on the allotments, carrying out whatever tasks are needed. please bring your own refreshments etc until we have further government guidance about sharing items.

DSCF3151


We now have quite a few volunteers now and as vice-chair, I would like to thank you all for your continuing dedication and devotion to our cause, which is creating a green space, building a rapport with the local community, and making our green lung ‘breath’. Again, we can’t do this without you so THANK YOU ONE AND ALL.



To Prospective Volunteers

If you are thinking of joining us please use contactus@fosp.org.uk or talk to the FOSP members around the pond reserve or on the allotments throughout the week. They will be able to point you in the right direction to join this exciting community project which has been an escape for many over the past six months during this pandemic.

posts mudskipper2


If you are a FOSP regular, I look forward to seeing you on our fortnightly workdays or in the week. If you are enquiring about Friends of Saintbridge pond, I look forward to hearing from you.

best regards

Tony B

FOSP Vice-Chair & Acting Secretary

The Tree Council’s response to the government consultation on the England Tree Strategy

If you’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet around our little nature haven, please have a look at the following consultation. Not only for yourself but for your children and for future generations to come. We can make a difference but only if we notice our environment. It can be a force for good and if we start to lose our green and pleasant green breathing spaces, we as humans will need to work in harmony with nature to get them back.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence tree strategy

The government has published a consultation seeking views to inform an upcoming England Tree Strategy. This consultation is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set out real, lasting commitments to England’s trees and hedgerows, across all our urban and rural landscapes. The consultation, leading into the new England Tree Strategy, is an important part of helping to shape a green, tree-filled future.

The Tree Council welcomes the consultation and the efforts that have been made to publish it in a good time for everyone to have time to contribute.
We want a strategy that pushes even further and faster, providing funds to establish and protect trees across the widest spectrum of our urban and rural landscapes, and thinks of trees as assets, not liabilities. There should be input from a broad range of government departments (including Health, Education, Transport, Culture, and Tourism) in order to recognise the many, diverse benefits trees offer humans, nature, and the climate.

At present, our chief concern is to ensure that sufficient attention and funding go into environments beyond large-scale forests and managed woodlands. This includes hedgerows, street trees, community orchards, wood pasture, parkland, and the landscapes which house our precious ancient trees. A key component of achieving this will be to resource local authorities properly to create local strategies with clear local targets, recruit sufficient numbers of qualified tree officers, and establish and care for trees and hedgerows.

The eventual strategy should include a raft of intelligent statutory targets for England, based on quality data about our existing treescape and including clear reporting structures to ensure this happens. We also want to ensure residents, communities, and volunteer-led organisations are educated and empowered to care for their local trees long-term.
We would like the opportunity to comment on a written version of the draft strategy before it is finalised. In this consultation, there is often a disconnect between the consultation narrative and the questions asked. The use of multiple-choice questions and tight word limits also makes it more challenging to give detailed and thoughtful answers. Therefore to have full confidence that urban trees, ancient trees, and hedgerows are properly represented in the final strategy, consultees should be given the opportunity to see and comment on the full detail of the draft strategy before it is published.

The Tree Council’s key priorities are that the strategy should:

  1. Fund and establish trees outside commercial forests and large managed woodlands
    Recognise the importance of the entire English treescape, and its importance to wellbeing, heritage, ecology and biodiversity (that is, the ecosystems services trees provide), not simply for carbon capture, timber or energy crops.
    Offer equivalent funding, incentives and importance to establishing thriving hedgerows, urban and street trees, orchards and wood pasture as is provided to woodland trees and crop trees.
    Commitments to include targets for the planting of street, urban and peri-urban trees, and going beyond the traditional solutions, for example by including rooftop gardens on office/housing blocks in cities.
    Fund research into the benefits of trees within all our urban and rural landscapes, such as hedgerows, parks, wood pasture, and on streets.
    Fund research into the most effective ways of ensuring that trees achieve their full environmental and ecosystem potential.
  2. Recognise the importance of local and regional tree strategies
    The strategy should include firm commitment to support and fund local authorities to lead on local tree planting as a key component of local tree strategies, which includes more resources for Tree Officers – who are currently focused on statutory prevention (TPOs) rather than a duty to plant. The provision of more Tree Officers also aids community and volunteer involvement.
  3. Invest in hedgerows
    Commit to establishing the 200,000km of urban and rural hedgerow (or in-filling with new trees, or rejuvenating) as per the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change in May 2019. This should include planting hedge trees every 20 metres (mature standard trees of the future, over and above the main hedging species).
    Fund research into how hedgerows can support national carbon and biodiversity goals, e.g as wildlife corridors, as protectors of soil organic carbon (SOC).
  4. Set a raft of bold, clear, statutory targets
    Set a target for England’s contribution to the UK-wide target of planting 30,000 hectares of trees each year by 2024.
    Targets should go up to 2050.
    Consider basing targets on canopy cover rather than hectarage, and include a target to increase trees established in the wider landscape (outside largely managed woodlands).
    Include a target to establish, rejuvenate or ‘fill-in’ 200,000km hedgerow.
    Local authority to set targets to increase canopy cover at the municipal level.
    Office of Environmental Protection to monitor, evaluate, and report against the above targets.
  5. Set out an ambitious, legally protected, and biosecure long-term vision for a tree-filled future
    Set out a vision for ongoing tree planting, establishment and care which will result in a future filled with trees in our streets, parks, woodlands, orchards, housing developments and public spaces.
    Provide formal and legal protection for our ancient and veteran trees wherever they live and recognise the notable trees which stand to be our future ancient and veteran trees.
    A commitment to develop bio-secure, UK grown, tree stock that supports commercial, local authority and community tree nurseries.
    Make land-based careers more visible and attractive throughout the education system, widening the offer for both technical and academic qualifications, to grow the next generation of professional tree people.                                                                        Fund research into more sustainable methods of tree protection and include a national commitment to move away from plastic tree guards.
    Effectively engage MHCLG, BEIS and Local Enterprise Partnerships, to recognise the role trees and nature recovery have in growing a sustainable and resilient skills-based local economy e.g. through Local Industrial Strategies.
  6. Empower communities and volunteer groups to care for their local trees
    Fund tree establishment projects at the community level.
    Long-term support to enable volunteers and volunteer organisations to establish and care for local trees and hedgerows.
    Fund local authorities to provide more support and guidance on tree establishment projects to volunteer groups in their local area.
    Harness the power of technology to engage audiences, gather and share data, improve knowledge and efficiency

     https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/england-tree-strategy/