Riverside Sites for Mammals
David Horne - Head of Centre
|The footprint and
internal arrangements of the new building have
been finalised. Many of the reserve staff have been working on clearing
the area for the new centre. Building work will hopefully start in the new
term. NGT have earmarked a transmission tower that might be of use as a
source of structural steel.
is now being done on the proposed sustainable nature of the building.
Should funding be made available, it is hoped the centre will be a model
of sustainable building for schools and others to learn from.
We are trying to highlight sustainability issues to visiting children. The centre is registered as an Eco-Centre, we are aiming to reach targets in five categories - Litter and waste, Water, Energy, Outdoor environment and Activity Sites. The scheme involves all members of staff and any people visiting the centre.
can also get involved through the Eco-Schools scheme see - Eco schools:
Recycling and sustainability are increasingly important topics. We intend addressing these with new study programs, a sustainability trail and a sustainability web site. We are starting to implement a compulsory recycling session for students. This encourages them to bring a packed lunch, which produces, as little non-recyclable waste as possible. The children can then sort all their rubbish and weigh it to see how much waste they have produced and how much can be recycled.
| Jo, Becca and
Sue have now completed their work on the Eco-Explorer
web site, available for all to see at www.naturegrid.org.uk/eco-exp/index.html.
It is hoped that this will be the corner stone of our sustainable development
programme of study. The website includes information for teachers about
QCA schemes of work relating to sustainability issues and fun activities
for children. It concentrates mainly on Recycling and Reducing waste but
also covers other aspects such as transport, energy and water.
year the centre celebrates its 30th Anniversary
and we held a VIP open day on 6th June and a Family Open Day on Sunday 8th
June, both of which were a huge success. The VIP open day included speeches
from representatives from the centre, KCC and National Grid, guided tours
demonstrating the conservation and education work that goes on at the centre
and live music from The Archbishop School, Canterbury.
Family Open Day was an excellent opportunity to visit the reserve, which
is rarely open to the public. 600 people attended the event. Besides having
the freedom to walk around the lake many other activities were laid on
such as guided walks, pond dipping, children's competitions, face painting,
a brass band and a play.
National Grid Transco agreed to us taking on the work of felling potentially dangerous trees around the reserve boundary. Tony Harman and centre staff were able to complete felling of those trees offering the greatest threat. This amounted to felling, logging and clearing over 100 trees in the space of 2 months. The cleared area includes the whole of the boundary from the centre car park to the industrial estate at the northern end of the reserve. This will from now on be managed as a coppice under 7 to 10 year rotation.
wildlife garden, which started last autumn,
is now in a near finished state. Conservation Officer, Alex Ewing and Reserve
Assistant, Dave Pritchard are particularly involved with this project. It
demonstrates how a typical urban garden can be developed to attract wildlife.
It is being used as a useful resource for INSET courses on wildlife gardening.
you look at our map of the reserve you can see that for many animals,
such as small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, the only route for their
dispersal is around its perimeter woodland and hedges where there is adequate
shelter and food supply. These wildlife 'corridors'
need to be improved within the reserve too. Mixed species shrubs
and trees that provide vital shelter and food, either as flowers or fruits,
will be planted amongst the existing predominantly hawthorn hedging to
"fill in" gaps in the existing hedge and provide food through
the year. So we hope to increase not only the numbers but also variety
of wildlife on the Reserve.
After finding several dormice and babies last summer, we decided to install a total of 50 dormouse nest-boxes around the Reserve. As well as providing safe shelter for our dormice they are used by nesting blue-tits in early spring. The boxes are checked monthly from April to October. Wood-mice are frequent visitors to the nest-boxes and a wren built its nest in one too
We also use plastic nest-tubes with a wooden base as a means of tracking the presence of dormice around the Reserve. The small woven nest built in the nest-tube opposite confirms that within a month of installing it, dormice are using this nest-tube in a thick hawthorn hedge as a "des.res". By planting mixed-species hedging and food plants, like honeysuckle and hazel, we hope that the numbers of dormice will increase around our Reserve.
recently attended the BTCV 'Otter & Water-vole ID' course held at
Broad Oak Nature Reserve and have formed a small group to survey local
riverside sites for mammals around the reserve.
So far we have visited the riverbank at the rear of the reserve where
mink 'scat' (droppings) fox droppings and brown rat tracks have been found.
We also spotted the invasive Himalayan Balsam growing at several points
alongside the bank. Most recently the group surveyed a public open space
adjoining the river Stour behind Vauxhall Avenue where water vole dropping
were seen earlier this year. The riverside on Kingsmead Island was also
surveyed for visual signs of river mammals; the bankside looked quite
promising with flattened vegetation in some parts, with connecting burrows
concealed by overhanging vegetation only some 20 cm. away from the river.
Two of our volunteers opted to monitor this sight regularly- presumably
whilst drinking a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon! Future visits will
be made to two sites managed by Broad Oak Nature Reserve at Bus Company
Island and Bingley Island, where we hope to undertake live trapping for
With reserve staff
having built an artificial otter chamber last year, volunteers from the
Kentish Stour Countryside Project successfully installed two otter tubes
passing under the perimeter fencing of the reserve at the beginning of
July. These will encourage any otters that
are passing up or down the river behind the nature reserve to enter and,
we hope, to take up residence. The lakes are well stocked with fish, so
finding food should not be a problem, and they will be safe from disturbance.
Oak Nature Reserve has recently registered with 'Nature's
Calendar' to provide wildlife records from the reserve. Scientists
all over the UK have become concerned that many natural events, such as
the first appearance of frog-spawn, the flowering times of bluebells and
snow drops, and the return of summer migrant birds like swallows and cuckoos
are occurring earlier than usual. This may point towards gradual climate
change as plants and animals adjust their natural cycles of activity. With
the Woodland Trust's support, a national (on-line) phenological network
(www.phenology.co.uk) has been set up with 18,000 registered recorders all
over the UK to identify these changes and provide the UK government with
important data on how our climate may be changing.
If your school wishes to join this project, or would like to receive more details, please contact;
UK Phenology Network
We are seeing an increase in adult education courses. BTCV are interested in running more courses at the reserve during weekends, evenings and school holidays. BOFs offers opportunities for talks and conservation days for those interested in the nature reserve.
|Paul Goodrick has
created yet another sculpture for the reserve. His new
sculpture which is made from willow will be seen by thousands
of people who travel along Broad Oak Road in Canterbury. Paul is a well-known
local artist, he also teaches environmental art and sculpture at the centre.
His work can be seen by visiting his website www.woodlandart.co.uk
willow sculptures which have been made on
art courses can be seen around the reserve. These courses have been taught
by either Paul Goodrick or Cas Holmes. If you are interested in attending
one of these courses please contact Joyce Harvey on 01227 452447.