Canterbury CygNatures

Summer 2003

 

Sebastian

Welcome to our termly newsletter, reporting on what has been going on at Broad Oak Nature Reserve and plans for the future.
Click on the items below to find out more.

Current Staff
New Building
Eco-Centre Award
Recycling
Eco-Explorer Web site
30th Anniversary Open Day
Tree Felling
Wildlife Garden
Wildlife Corridors

Dormice News
Riverside Sites for Mammals
Otter News
Nature's Calendar
Adult Education
New Sculpture

Willow Sculptures


Newsletter 2000-2001
Newsletter 2001-2002
Newsletter 2002
Current staff at the Centre-

David Horne - Head of Centre
Joyce Harvey - Centre Administrator
Dave Edgar - Reserve Manager
Alex Ewing - Conservation Officer (BTCV)
Rebecca Morgan - Environmental Assistant (National Grid)
Ivan Godden - Reserve Assistant
Dave Pritchard - Reserve Assistant
Jo Leech - Teacher/Web Designer
Sue Parsons - Teacher
Mark Pullinger - New Deal Placement
Daniel
Bailey - New Deal Placement
Bryan Taylor - Volunteer
Mark Saich - Volunteer
Tony Harman - Tree Surgeon

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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.

Work 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.

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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.

Schools can also get involved through the Eco-Schools scheme see - Eco schools: www.eco-schools.org.uk

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Eco-promise pledge board


recycling

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.

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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.

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eco-explorer
Planting the Broad Oak on the VIP open day

Play performance at the family open day
This 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.

Our 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.

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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.

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tree clearance
wildlife garden in May
The 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.

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If 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.

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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.

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dormice

nest tube

Several volunteers 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 watervoles.

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Otter tube

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.

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Broad 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;

The UK Phenology Network
The Woodland Trust
Autumn Park
Dysart Road
Grantham
Lincolnshire NG31 6LL

Tel: 01476 590808
E-mail: phenology@woodland-trust.org.uk


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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.

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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

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sysiphus sculpture
Willow sculpture
Other 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.

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