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Canterbury
CygNatures
2000-2001
Sebastian

Welcome to our first newsletter of the 21st Century, bringing you up to date with what has been going on during the past year at Canterbury (Broad Oak) Environmental Education Centre and the Reserve.

We have had an exciting year with many new ventures, changes and additions to courses and the reserve. We will be producing future newsletters at the end of each year. However, we will be updating the newsletter, at the end of each school term, on our web site www.naturegrid.org.uk where you will also find detailed information about the centre and its activities.

Here are some of the features in this Newsletter:-)
New Theatre Stage
Floods in October
Reed Bed Walk
Wildlife Notebook
Friends of Broad Oak Reserve
Plans for 2001

Record Rainfall Brings Floods to Canterbury

April and May

The Reserve faces a problem few other environmental education centres can expect to experience, river flooding. April and May saw record breaking figures for rainfall and it all has to go somewhere.
Unfortunately the River Great Stour appeared unable to hold it all this spring, with a significant proportion entering the Nature Reserve's lakes. In April the lakes rose to within 30 centimetres of the centre.This excessive level was even higher than long serving former Head of Centre, Tony Harman, had experienced, with the exception of the 1987 floods.
Mud on Your Designer Trainers
For the whole of April and May the lakes refused to drop to their pre-flood level. The paths were constantly muddy, with many children complaining about the effect on their designer trainers! (Why does no one believe you, when you suggest bringing wellies?). At the end of May, the river went one step further and decided to flood the lakes so high that freshwater ecology was possible in the centre conservatory. Talk about armchair ecology!
Ironically the main problem of too much rain is that freshwater studies are limited, on safety grounds. As a result our drier Sunrise Trail has taken much more of a pounding from children's feet, as a result turning it too into a mud bath.


New Centre on Stilts?
One particular lesson that hopefully will be learnt from this experience concerns the anticipated building of a new centre. With global warming, sea level rising and unpredictable rainfall patterns, a centre built on a river only 5 metres above sea level, we should consider being constructed on stilts!


Watch the Birdie!
June
The antics of Sebastian and Sarah, our resident pair of swans are well documented, thanks to the writings of Jo Leech, one of the centre staff. Jo has authored a number of books, which appear on the centre's web site
www.naturegrid.org.uk/infant
You may have caught Sebastian and Sarah live, through the centre's web camera. Their private lives were open to scrutiny from anywhere in the world through the medium of the Internet. Very obligingly they decided to build their nest within 50 metres of the centre buildings, allowing Tom Banbury to focus the web camera on the happy couple for the 6 or so weeks of egg laying, incubation and hatching of their babies.
Anyone tuning in to the private lives of Mr and Mrs Swan must have been well impressed with the size to which their nest grew over the period of incubation, probably over 1 metre.Not surprisingly, once the four young cygnets had hatched, mum and dad took them out of the limelight to a quieter part of the lakes. The abandoned nest has however, been recycled in the best traditions of sustainability. A family of ducks moved in.

Cheque Presentation by Brett's
On 7th June 2000 a cheque for £18,000 was presented to the Centre by Robert Brett & Sons Ltd - the company that dug gravel from the site about 60 years ago - proceeds of the Landfill Tax.
Some of the money has been used to buy Chestnut, an old mahogany clinker-built dinghy. It is a 16ft craft, with a draft of only a few inches, so is ideally suited to life on the lakes.
She is capable of carrying materials such as harvested reeds and willow logs or up to 12 passengers around the lakes. We hope to offer a new water trail to visitors, probably supervised by the new Broad Oak Friends. Chestnut is powered by a battery driven electric outboard motor that is not only friendly to the ears of local wildlife, but also produces no pollution in the crystal clear waters of the lakes.
Water Shed hopes to be a Watershed!
 
A new outdoor teaching shelter has been constructed at the Canterbury (Broad Oak) centre. Christened "The Watershed" it is a recycled greenhouse donated by a local school (Montgomery High School). Thanks to 12 months of work provided by the Canterbury Probation Service, a valuable undercover facility has been created. Throughout the last year a number of people under the Community Service programme have worked hard on this worthwhile project.
Along with other projects on the reserve, ranging from tree felling to path clearance, it is hoped that the Watershed will be used by those involved in the programme.
Many of those who work under Community Service Orders appreciate and enjoy contributing to the much-valued work they carry out on the reserve. This is yet another important part that the centre plays in the local community.

Theatre on Location
July

The Nature Reserve became the perfect backdrop for the world premier of "In Search of the Broad Oak", a promenade theatre play written and produced by Centre Head David Horne and directed by professional promenade theatre actor, Keith Bailey. David decided to write the play specially for performing on the 23 acres of the Broad Oak Nature Reserve. Having seen promenade theatre in the past (actors and audience move from location to location), David immediately realised that the Broad Oak Reserve was the ideal location for a specially written production.


The Cast


Rehearsals
at the new seating area on Butterfly Bank

Nuts the Squirrel
The play is set in the future, with the earth having been turned into a wasteland by man's abuse.The young heroin (Silvo) returns to her Great Grandfather's birthplace (Canterbury) and proceeds to follow his footsteps, meeting some interesting characters along the way as she goes in search of The Broad Oak.
Most of the parts were played by local school children, continuing the rich theatrical traditions of Marlowe and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Each of the characters encountered has an interesting tale to tell, including Psst the Great Crested Newt, Edward the Teddy Bear, Troll, Boil the Bacterium, Nuts the Squirrel and Bogus the Fungiman.

Silvo (left) and Edward

Performances took take place from 19th to 22nd July 2000, and we were extremely pleased to receive great reviews and excellent audiences on all performances.

All the cast and staff at the centre worked extremely hard to make this a success. We would particularly like to thank our volunteers who helped with props, stewarding, refreshments, makeup and moral support. We could not have done it without you!
Westminster Pier Comes to Canterbury Broad Oak
August
The River Thames ticket office, located at Westminster Pier, has been relocated at Canterbury Broad Oak Nature Reserve. The four mobile units have been donated to the centre by Mowlem Marine at Northfleet.
The cost of transporting the buildings was met by Mowlem, whilst the cost of craning them into place was met by NGC. Because of their size, the Kent police had to escort the buildings.
Head of Centre David Horne said "I was delighted with the offer from Mowlem, especially considering the lack of storage space available at the centre. At least one of the buildings will be used to store the costumes and props created by our recent promenade theatre production. A lot of work has yet to be done on the buildings, including an exterior repaint". The centre's Broad Oak Friends are keen to adopt one of the buildings as a permanent base. Eventually it is hoped it will be possible to connect the buildings to power and other services.

Pylon Bird
Summer

In the Summer Paul Goodrick, a local professional sculptor, was commissioned to create a sculpture for the reserve.
Using funding from Pfizer, Seeboard and Brett's, he was able to spend a week creating a birdlike structure, made from wood. Drawing inspiration from the pylons associated with the reserve. The Pylon Bird is a high profile piece of art, which has been positioned overlooking Broad Oak Road, Canterbury, drawing attention to the reserve. Over the next year we hope to add to the area around it to create an attractive 'shop window' for passing members of the public.

New Reed Bed Walk
The new reed bed walk is now complete after weeks of work by Dave Edgar, Reserve Manager. Visiting school children are particularly impressed when the reeds are tall on either side of the walk.

New Theatre Stage
Sponsored by National Grid.
Work on the new stage is well under way, although this has been hampered by the recent floods. We should have it finished by early spring 2001.

It is hoped that visiting theatre/drama groups will be able to make use of these facilities as well as our own future productions. Anyone interested in booking the stage should contact the Centre - Tel. 01227 452447.


Floods in October/November 2000
Perhaps it is time to stop remarking about the extreme flooding we are getting, since every few days the previous record level is broken. It is now early November and the water has come so high that the recently re-named Pond Lab has lived up to its name. On 7th November, the floor of the lab was almost completely covered in water.
Perhaps the only amusing outcome from otherwise serious event was the discovery of a mayfly nymph swimming about in the lab! Like the Latin name for this group of insects, we hope the rising floodwaters are ephemeral in nature and will not return for a long time.


Tree Planting

On Saturday the 25th of November 2000, the Canterbury Environmental Education Centre (Broad Oak Reserve) took part in a national world record attempt to plant the greatest number of trees ever planted in a 3 day period. This national event was organised by the Tree Council and coincided with the Esso sponsored Tree Week (22 - 29 Nov).


Kent Children's University - Children and Parent's

University of Kent students in the Tree Planting record.
Here at the CEEC, 400 trees were planted on the Broad Oak Nature Reserve. A number of groups attended to aid the effort, Broad Oak Friends, the University of Kent at Canterbury Conservation Volunteers and children and parents from the Kent Children's University.
You can contact the Tree Council on
020 78289928
51 Catherine Place,
London,
SW1E 6DY.
   

Plans for 2001

 

Our Plans for the Future of the Broad Oak Nature Reserve

New Centre Buildings - National Grid Company, which owns the site, is considering the possibility of building a new environmental education centre.

Open Air Theatre - Sponsored by National Grid Company, This project is well underway, being opposite the centre, on Teddy Bear Island.

Sculptures - The 'Pylon' bird sculpture, was sponsored by Pfizer Ltd, SEEBOARD and Robert Brett & Sons Ltd. and is located in the area adjacent to Broad Oak Road. Further structures are planned around the reserve.

Sensory Garden - This project has been sponsored by SEEBOARD and will see our Friend's group involved in building structures, laying paths, planting flowers and shrubs and creating water features in the area around the SEEBOARD transmission tower, adjacent to the centre buildings.

Management of Canterbury City Nature Reserves - A number of small nature reserves adjacent to the River Great Stour will be managed by the centre, attracting funding from Canterbury City Council.

Riverside Trail - The centre is looking to expand its influence beyond the reserve, especially if the Barton Mill Island bridge is created. A guided walk has been created, using a guide booklet, enabling schools to study the riverside environment from Bingley Island at one end of the city to The Broad Oak Nature Reserve at the other.

Naturegrid Web Site - www.naturegrid.org.uk The centre's web site is already hailed as one of the best environmental education web sites to be found anywhere. With funding from National Grid Company and Kent NGfL we have been able to develop the site as a valuable resource for teachers, children and the general public. Funding will be sought to continue this work.

 
We welcome your comments - if you have anything to say about our web pages or information you think might be useful to the Reserve, please contact us:
Canterbury Environmental Education Centre
Broad Oak Road, Canterbury, Kent. CT2 7PX

Tel: 01227 452447
Fax: 01227 456944
e-mail: dragonfly@naturegrid.org.uk

 

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