Tree Felling in Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve

Work has started in the Nature Reserve to remove some of the trees, and already the place looks the better for it.  Dave Cramp (who gave such a great illustrated talk to the Friends Group last week at Mel’s Cafe) and Jessie and Carlo from the Bee Guardian Foundation have all visited recently and been very pleased with the progress.

The object is to establish habitats with a balance of light and shade.  Trees are good, but there were too many and the place was becoming dark and cold.  We can expect far more flowers and flowering shrubs (yes, and lots of brambles which we will have to cut back here and there!) and then the insects and birds which go with them.  We hope to see more of the rare Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly which has been seen for the last two years, as more violets grow.

Some wood has gone to the Bee Guardian Foundation for the construction of bee houses, some is being carried out for peoples’ stoves, and the up-coming work party will be involved in stacking some for ad hoc seats and for habitat piles.  Some piles of branches will also be stacked as invertebrate habitat, and untidiness will be the order of the day!

Many of the trees in the Nature Reserve are Ash, so it is likely that we will lose them within 10 years.  In due course, and as we see how the disease progresses, it may be appropriate to plant more trees to replace them, but for now it is too early to say.  The loss of the Ash trees, while it is an environmental disaster, will also present some opportunities.  It will not be all bad news.

Bird Survey at Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve

A bird survey was carried out on the reserve by our recent guest speaker, David Cramp from Gloucestershire RSPB Group. The survey took place on the 30th November in unusually calm sunny conditions. David confirmed that the reserve habitat should support a good variety of garden birds throughout the seasons although there were not a huge number of different species noting during our visit. This is understandable in view of the time of year when many of the summer visitors have sought sunnier, warmer climes. 

The list of species noted were as follows:-

  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Woodpigeon
  • Collared Dove
  • Blackbird
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Redwing
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Robin
  • Blue Tit
  • Dunnock
  • Blackcap
  • Carrion Crow
  • Magpie
  • Jackdaw
  • Chaffinch
  • Greenfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Wren
  • Fieldfare

Apart from the species spotted on the day the reserve should also support the Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Song Thrush, all of which should be there in the winter months.

Since there are a number of Waxwings in the Cheltenham area it may well be worth checking out any rowan trees that still have berries because they are a key attraction for the Waxwings.

Because of the vicinity of the gardens David felt that there could also be House Sparrows and Starlings on the reserve but the area may be one of those where these two species have gone missing.