An up to date draft of the PBNR management plan 2 is now available. By its very nature it will be constantly up-dated to take account of advice from specific wildlife groups and the monitoring of developments within the reserve.
Spiders: David Haigh, County Spider Recorder, started carrying out a 12 month survey of spiders in the reserve in the autumn of 2012.
Birds: David Cramp, Gloucestershire RSPB, started doing a twice yearly survey of birds in the reserve in December 2012 with the aim of monitoring the improvement in numbers of bird species with the development of the reserve habitat. Members of the Friends group also monitor bird species informally and these observations are recorded by the group.
Insects: Gloucestershire Invertebrate Group (GIG) did an evening survey in specific areas of the reserve on June 12th.
Wild flowers: Members of the Friends group recorded all flowers on a weekly basis (June – October this year and July – Sept. last year). They also took photos and these are being stored by the group. The same will be done next year.
Bats: Haydn Brookes, Gloucestershire Bat Group has held 2 bat walks in the reserve this year (both with over 30 local residents attending). Next Spring we plan to do an in depth bat survey with the help of Dr Elizabeth Pimley of Gloucestershire Bat Group.
Butterflies: Gloucestershire Butterfly Conservation Group has done informal observations of butterflies with the Friends group. A survey has been talked about but not organised yet. Meanwhile they are advising on habitat improvement for butterflies.
Communication: Apart from an up-dated page on CBC website about Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve, Friends of PBNR have this
website, we also run a Facebook page and have a Twitter account. A quarterly e-newsletter is produced for the 150+ members of the Friends group plus local politicians, businesses and schools who have joined up to receive it. A hard copy is delivered to 10 elderly people who have no internet access.
Friends of Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve was first mooted in June 2012 with a constitution being adopted in July 2012. From that a Community Orchard sub –committee was formed in January 2013 and a junior group, Nature Explorers, started in October 2012.
Nature Explorers meet during school holidays and have so far done activities such as making places for animals and insects to hibernate, making bird feeders, finding tracks, pond dipping and den building.
A Conservation Work Party is held in the reserve the first Saturday of every month and these are always well attended.
Illustrated talks and discussions are held locally every 6 – 8 weeks during winter and during the past 10 months we have had speakers on birds, bees, bats and ‘gardening for wildlife’. There are talks planned for winter 2013/14 on Gloucestershire birds, butterflies and wildlife photography. These talks are preceded by a ‘community curry’ which is always very well attended and gives members a chance to socialise. Most talks have had over 40 people attending.
The Friends group has recently made a display that can be used at local fetes and shows. We have literature about the reserve, games for children, plus information about how people can help create a ‘wildlife garden’ for themselves.
There is a ‘library’ of books on wildlife, including a number of identification guides, available for use by members of Friends of PBNR, at 38 Mead Road, adjoining the reserve.
PILLEY BRIDGE COMMUNITY ORCHARD
In February we were successful in getting match funding from CBC’s Community Pride Fund. This has allowed us to carry out our plan to create a Community Orchard at the western end of the reserve. On 20th October 2013 we celebrated Apple Day with the official opening of the orchard with 150 people attending. The orchard will continue to grow and develop and there is now an orchard sub-committee to help this happen.
REGULAR CURRENT USERS
Leckhampton Woodcraft Folk, both the younger and older groups.
Leckhampton Beaver Scouts
‘Wildish Days Out’ – a pre-school group
Teenagers sitting in groups after school
Special interest groups, eg GIG
ACCESS and SIGNAGE
Funding was obtained in February to up-grade the footpaths leading to the reserve from Mead Road, Leckhampton Road and Old Bath Road. This, along with providing footpath signs saying ‘access to Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve’ are being done by Gloucestershire County Council, Public Rights of Way.
The slope into the reserve at the western end was made much gentler using a digger contractor plus volunteers. CBC provided a new, oak PILLEY BRIDGE sign for the western end of the reserve which the Friends group erected at the top of the slope in April and CBC has provided a hand rail down one side of the slope.
An interpretation board has been designed by local designer and member of the Friends group, Nibbs Smith. One has been erected at the Western end of the reserve in the Community Orchard and the other will go up in the Meadow at the December work party. A local craftsman has made an archway incorporating the name ‘PILLEY BRIDGE COMMUNITY ORCHARD’ which has been put up in the entrance to the orchard.
An education pack for use by local schools and other interested groups is being put together by CBC and should be available for use by schools and other groups shortly.
A ‘woodland classroom’ has been created within the reserve to enable teachers to bring groups of children to have outdoor lessons. Naunton Park School plan to use the reserve for lessons starting in 2014.
Funds were raised by the Friends group to have an oak bench made by a local bodger and this was put half way down the ‘Long Walk’ in the reserve. The Friends group now have two more benches in the Community Orchard.
We are waiting to get confirmation that Pilley Bridge has been successful in its application to get Local Nature Reserve status awarded by Natural England. This will then afford the Reserve a measure of protection for the future which can only be a good thing!