18.3 C
Gloucester
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Home Blog

Hawker Dragonfly

 

This little beauty was spotted in Barbara’s Pond. It was brilliant to see such a beautiful predator in such a small area. I wonder what other species are waiting to emerge?

In the meantime, here is the link to the British dragonfly society. There is also a guide you can look at or download as required.

https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/common-hawker/

https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/odonata/species-and-identification/

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Moorhen

The Saintbridge Pond and Nature Reserve is in full Spring Bloom

It’s always nice to have a stroll around the pond looking for new things. I was lucky enough to see my first Moorhen nest last week (mid-April 2022), I could not believe the intricacy of the build, I have read that the nest (tower) can be built with some serious teamwork in as little as 12 hours !. Please see the gallery below (thanks to Pete Wilson for the pictures of the nest and the amazing photo of one of the parents sitting with the baby chicks)

So anyway, I popped by yesterday and saw the nest empty. I was able to see the parents, but my stomach sank in worry that the chicks had fallen prey to the same fate as all the ducklings last week (I spotted a seagull eating one last week). After spending a lot of time trying to spot the chicks I was excited when one was spotted by a passerby coming in and out of a hiding place in the rushes next to the bank. I quickly grabbed my camera and fired off a couple of pictures (not great quality but in one of the pics you can see the chick ready for food delivery from mum).

Moorhen Facts
(source)

What type of animal is a moorhen?
The common moorhen species is a species of a medium-sized water bird, also referred to as the Eurasian moorhen and sometimes described as a ‘swamp chicken’. They belong to the rail family and are a close relative to coots. The common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) belongs to the phylum Chordata and Gallinule genus.

What class of animal does a moorhen belong to?
The moorhen species is a species of medium-sized water birds belonging to the class Aves. The common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is also known as the common gallinule.

How many moorhens are there in the world?
There are a total of 10 common moorhen species found all over the world. The exact number of common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in total is not known.

Where does a moorhen live?
Although moorhens are found all around the world, there are a few regions where they are found in abundance. The good vegetation of marshes, as well as ponds, streams, and river mouths, attract them the most. A few common moorhen species can also be found in the lowland areas of central as well as eastern England.

What is a moorhen’s habitat?
The common moorhen species’ habitat ranges from farmland to grassland and wetlands. Since they require water bodies (being aquatic animals) for their survival, for nesting, and in order to escape from their enemies, they can normally be spotted either swimming without any fear or hiding in the weeds on the banks of water bodies. Most of them migrate to the safest areas right before their breeding season in order to build their nests closer to riverbanks, in order to attain a good and safe shelter for their infants.

Who do moorhens live with?
The common moorhen species tend to live in groups called flocks, the density of which varies. They can either be large groups or simply just a group of a few birds sticking around. Particularly in the breeding season, these birds choose to stay close to their group. Some people claim that moorhens are easy to spot, but they are quite shy animals so they try to avoid any form of human interaction whenever possible.

How long does a moorhen live?
18 – 19 years is the lifespan of the average common moorhen population (Gallinula chloropus).

How do they reproduce?
The process of mating and breeding this bird begins in spring (approximately from mid-March). The first move is made by the adult male bird who moves closer to the female moorhen with his beak dipped inside the water. If the adult female bird accepts this mating proposal then they go on nibbling on each other’s feathers before actually starting to work together in order to build a nest. They try their level best to build their nest at the best possible spot, where it will be safe from other birds. The protection of the nest and the eggs inside the nest is a priority for these birds. (see pictures above)

After the nesting is done the adult female moorhen lays between seven to eight eggs and the male and female take turns incubating them until the eggs hatch (after approximately three weeks). From the time when the egg hatches, until when the babies are grown up enough to fly away, both the male and female moorhen take responsibility for feeding and protecting their young. If the moorhens are in a location of high threat, the babies are known to stick to their parents while they take them to a safer area. Once the babies grow up (which usually takes almost a year), they fly off and start a family of their own, where the whole life cycle repeats itself all over again. The lifespan of moorhens is not known to be very long, most moorhens usually live for a maximum of three years, but the oldest moorhen on record was known to be almost 10 years old at the time he was recaptured!

What is their conservation status?
Common. Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. (source)

Moorhen Fun Facts

What do moorhens look like?
Moorhens are blessed with a bright red beak which works as a shield for them by extending itself to its very black eyebrows.

Moorhens are wrapped in charcoal black and grey feathers with brown wings. Their wings are decorated with white stripes as well as small white dots. Their legs highly compliment the white body colour of the moorhens, as they are a bright yellow colour, with no webbing. The bright red beak with a pointed yellow tip adds to this bird’s overall beauty.

How cute are they?
Moorhens’ beautiful glowing eyes and beautiful bright white-coloured beaks make them look super adorable. The beautiful white textured fur makes them look super soft too.

How do they communicate?
The female is known to make a murmur call when she is ready to mate.

How big is a moorhen?
A medium-sized to large-sized moorhen ranges from 12-15 in (30-38 cm) in length with a span of about 20-24 in (51-61 cm) across the wings. The bodyweight of a moorhen ranges from 12-19 oz (340-540 g). It is five times smaller than a big dog.

How high can a moorhen fly?
Although common moorhen can fly, they aren’t very good at it so they only cover short distances. Newborn moorhens learn to take a flight at seven weeks old, however, they stick around with their family until autumn. After that, they wander off and are later known to take refuge on trees as high as 20 ft (6 m) or more.

How much does a moorhen weigh?
The average body weight of a common moorhen ranges from 12-19 oz (340-540 g) and they have a wingspan of 20-24 in (51-61 cm).

What are the male and female names of the species?
Although there’s no particular name for each gender, one common trick used to tell the difference between male and female moorhens is the fact that male moorhens are usually a little bigger than females.

What would you call a baby moorhen?
Moorhens are also called Gallinula Comeri, and baby moorhens in particular are known as moorhen chicks.

What do they eat?
Moorhen, as mentioned above, are omnivores therefore they can be found eating both plants and animal matter (insects). Their diet includes various aquatic creatures like fishes, frogs, and snails along with insects, worms, and eggs.

Other facts
Although moorhens belong to the bird family, they are not very good at flight. They are only able to take flights of short distances, be it upright or horizontally.

It may seem shocking, but moorhens don’t hesitate before eating their fellow mates’ eggs if given a chance. They tend to eat other moorhen’s eggs and believe that by doing so, they are protecting their own.

Moorhens normally have either two or three broods of baby moorhens. Interestingly, adult moorhens from the previous hatching are known to help their parents with taking care of their new babies in the next breeding season.

What are some nicknames for moorhens?
Moorhens are sometimes also called marsh hens.

Are moorhen aggressive?
The common gallinule is noted to be highly aggressive during their nesting season in order to protect both their infants and their shelters. Females are also known to be quite aggressive while fighting for a mate (this kind of behaviour is usually seen during the mating season at the start of April.) Although the common moorhen is known for carefully taking care of its infants right after their birth, it is also known for aggressively sending them off as soon as they show signs of adult bird plumage.

Plantlife Road Verges Campaign

If, like me, you’ve been wandering around the pond and looking and the burst of colour which has greeted us, you probably feel a sense of calm and the ability just to be in the now.
I was lucky enough to meet Sir David Attenborough a couple of times, along with Chris Packham who has, overtime, inspired a sense of the now, the ability to think past what we see and have a vision of the future. I know we live in troubled times and to get away, make a break, it is hard. So on our travels to get away, I used to see the road verges covered in wild flowers, a haven for invertebrates, mammals and birds. Lately, it has been a sea of mono-culture species, invasive garden escapees, like the introduced Spanish Bluebells, grasses or Dandelions.

Native Bluebell “Hyacinthoides non-scripta”
Spanish bluebells Hyacinthoides_hispanica

 

Plantlife has an ongoing campaign to reintroduce wild flowers, plants and fungi  life to support all of our wildlife so their colour and character light up our landscapes. But without your help, this priceless natural heritage is in danger of being lost, thus transforming road verges are asking local councils to improve this particular biome.  They have an ongoing petition to improve these areas as the UK’s 97% of wildlife flower meadows have been lost yet grassy road verges provide crucial havens for wildplants and wildlife including butterflies and bees. Please sign this and look at the other resources.

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [2.12 MB]

 

 

Localised results

 

I will leave you with a quote from Sir David in a book I currently reading.

The title is Nature is a human right edited by Ellen Mites and published by DK.

The first quote in the book is the following :

” Now, over half of us live in an urban environment … It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose connection with the natural world. Yet it’s on this connection that the future of both humanity and the natural world will depend.”

Sir David Attenborough, Plant Earth II (2016)

You can sign up to her newsletter here to find stories that will not only inspire but expand our human horizons. let’s reconnect….

All the best 

Tony B Friends of…. Chair

 

Update from FOSP Chair

As Chair, I would like to thank our resident photographer, Pete, for the wonderful images of the wildlife which is currently around the pond during the breeding seasons. With the new wall and the work going on by the dam by the EA, our site is getting greener by the day. I would like to thank our regular supporters and volunteers for the work they are carrying out around the pond. Let’s carry on and make it a place for everyone.

I’ve included a teaching pack from Resurgence magazine about why water courses are so important and why the work we are involved in is crucial to the area.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [6.70 MB]


Also visit our page to raise funds to enable the Queens Jubilee Arch to be installed. Please give whatever you can.

regards

Tony B Chair

Donation Appeal | Queens Jubilee Arch

Queen’s Jubilee Arch @ Saintbridge Pond

Thanks to donations from several sources (including local residents, Gloucestershire County Council and Gloucester City Council & other kind donations, we have secured the funds to commission a Jubilee Arch in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Jubilee Arch is 10ft high and will sit across the path before the bridge at the Sudbrook river and Skylark Way.

Included in the design are spiders and webs, frogs, birds, bluebells, slugs, ladybirds and Ox Eye daisies surrounded by bull rushes on either side meeting in the centre and it has been commissioned to a very talented artist “MissFire”. Please feel free to check out her website.

The picture above shows the concept drawing as well as a photo of a similar bridge (which is still in place unscathed for over twenty years) at the Wyre Estuary Nature Reserve in Fleetwood.  

Unfortunately we are short by £1500.00 for the installation, and once again we are asking for your help and kindness in raising this additional money to complete the project.

Please assist us by donating what you can to help us bring this project to an end to mark the celebration of the Queen’s Momentus Platinum Jubilee.

You can find details of how you can donate on our donation page @ https://fosp.org.uk/donations/

Please retweet / tell your friends and family etc. From all of the volunteers @ fosp we thank you in advance for your ongoing support and kindness.

Project Updates

These are some of the volunteers who helped with the raised beds pictured with Cllr Andrew Gravells who sponsored the project. The project ran over 1 year from inception to completion. Many hours were done by FOSP volunteers some of whom are pictured here. Several other volunteers helped over the winter months of 2020/2021.



Pictured with Cllr Andrew Gravells are some of the volunteers who helped to erect the sheep at Pine Close around the Saintbridge Pond & Nature Reserve
The 5 sheep’s names are Ewe’an Baabara Ewenice Ramsay and Baarnaby which were put there to encourage little ones to sit on them and learn about the nature around them.
This was part of the same project as the raised beds in the community gardens.

Volunteers also planted 2000 bulbs around the pond area, and Spinney such as wild cyclamen, snowdrops, wild bluebells, wood anemone and wild primrose.
Volunteer Charlie erected shelving in the Friends storage container which has been very useful.


Rebirding Book Review by Paul Brunt

 


Rebirding: Restoring Britain’s Wildlife (Paperback) by Benedict Macdonald
Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation 2020
Winner of the Richard Jefferies Society and White Horse Book Shop Literary Prize

Publisher: Pelagic Publishing
ISBN: 9781784272197
Number of pages: 336
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm

Reviewed by
Paul Brunt – Friends of Saintbridge Pond resident ornithologist.

This book is based upon future conservation strategies regarding the concept of rewilding. Rewilding involves land management to bring back Britain’s wildlife that has been lost over the years. The book is an excellent read and explores the concept of bringing back wild animals such as the Lynx, Elk and birds such as the Turtle Dove and Dalmation Pelican – which is extinct as a breeding bird.

Red Kite
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/animals/birds/red-kite/

The book highlights the successful reintroduction of the Red Kite to England as an example of how rewilding can be successful. Land use in Britain can be managed in a way that can restore Britain’s wildlife to the benefit of the rural economy by the expansion of ecotourism. People will spend money in order to see, for example, iconic birds such as the White-Tailed Eagle as highlighted by the successful reintroduction of this species into the Western Isles of Scotland, which has boosted the local economy for example the B&B and catering trade.



White-tailed Eagle
https://www.albiontimes.co.uk/british-white-tailed-eagles-return-to-england-after-240-years/

On a Local Level…
The book explores how messy areas provide good habitat for birds, and more wildflowers have meant more pollinating insects, which in turn provides more food for birdlife. ‘Ecological Tidiness Disorder’ is a term used to describe the order and clearance of messy areas to make an area more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
The conservation strategy of Saintbridge Pond has led to a healthy population of starlings and House sparrows which have declined in other sites elsewhere and on a national level. Good cover by the reed beds supports scarce birds such as the Water Rail and provides an excellent habitat for birds on a suburban housing estate.

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