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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]


 

The Benefits of Volunteering

FOSP Members talking to Nature Reserve Visitors

Volunteering of any kind has many benefits for the volunteer as well as the recipient. Great satisfaction can be gained by giving time and effort to a worthwhile cause or organisation. Volunteers may be motivated by a passion such as child poverty, animal welfare or conservation. Getting involved can make a real difference to a cause which is close to the heart.

For those seeking employment, volunteering can provide an opportunity to work in a particular field before committing to paid employment. Potential employers look favourably on experience gained in a voluntary role. The fact that someone has volunteered, in any setting, shows initiative, motivation and regard for others.

Making a new circle of friends is a valuable benefit of joining a voluntary group. This may be particularly beneficial to people who have moved to a new area. Working with like-minded people is enjoyable and satisfying.

New skills can be gained whilst volunteering and this on its own may enhance your CV and job prospects. In addition, sharing existing skills with others can be a rewarding opportunity to give something back.

The benefits of volunteering outdoor (particularly in a beautiful environment like Saintbridge Nature Reserve) are well documented. Both physical and mental wellbeing are enhanced. There is certainly something about green spaces that lifts the spirits.

A survey in the Guardian newspaper (ICM research) found that nearly half of all volunteers (47%) say volunteering has improved their physical health and fitness. Of the people who had volunteered for more than two years, 48% say that volunteering makes them less depressed.

When a volunteer group works to improve their environment (such as FOSP) they feel part of the surrounding community, with a sense of ownership and pride. As the improvements to an area progresses, there is a knock on effect whereby littering and dumping reduces significantly. It can also very rewarding and motivating to receive compliments from members of the public.

With so many opportunities to volunteer in our county, there really is something for everyone. You can visit Do-it.org to find yours.

Barbara, a FOSP Volunteer


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]


 

Poem for FOSP

by Marianne, a FOSP Volunteer



Why not join us, we meet the first and third Sunday of every month, weather permitting. There are a range of jobs you can get involved with from simply cleaning up litter to eco cleaning of the Sud Brook as well as planting bulbs and assisting with wildlife recording.

You get to make new friends, talk to locals and work with the Council, Police and Fire Service who all regularly visit the pond and nature reserve for one reason or another. It’s always a fun day out, we have a laugh and have over the past twenty years made a BIG difference to the pond and surrounding area turning it into a recognised nature reserve.

Last year, our efforts were rewarded by gaining the coveted Green Flag Award for raising the standard of the ajoining park and surrounding green space. To find out more about what volunteering entails you can either call Ken on 07541 920229, or email our organisation secretary, Will Apperley for details secretary@fosp.org.uk

Alternatively, just show up any first or third Sunday of the month at the Saintbridge Pond, and you’ll find us spread around the pond undertaking various jobs, ask us any questions you like, you can even roll up your sleeves and you’ll welcome to join in. You’ll be briefed by one of senior team on the work we do and how it is best done.

Older children are welcome to join in as long as they are accompanied and fully supervised by parents, but because of the dangers of water and drowning younger children cannot be involved and we are sure you understand for safety reasons we retain the right to refuse younger children access for their own safety.

We look forward to maybe seeing you around the pond some day soon, even if it is just for a wander round, see what we’re doing, and if your tempted to join in you’ll be most welcome. The FOSP team comprise of people from all walks of life, communities all coming together for the betterment of Saintbridge Pond, its inhabitants and the surrounding park and green space.


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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