An up to date draft of the management plan for Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve is available on request. 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 October 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 Insect Group (GIG) is doing an evening survey (4 hours) in specific areas of the reserve on June 12th.
Wild flowers: Members of the Friends group record all flowers on a weekly basis (June – October this year and July – Sept. last year). They also take photos and these are being stored by the group.
Bats: Haydn Brookes, Gloucestershire Bat Group has held 2 bat walks in the reserve this year (both with over 30 local residents attending). He will be carrying out an extended survey in July aided by members of the Friends group.
Butterflies: Gloucestershire Butterfly Conservation Group have had an informal for butterflies with the Friends group. A survey has been talked about but not organised yet. Meanwhile they are advising on habitat improvement for butterflies.
Bees: Jessie Jowers of the Bee Guardian Foundation and Jo Worthy-Jones of GWT led a bee walk in the reserve during September 2012 (with over 60 local residents attending).
Communication: Apart from an up-dated page on CBC website about Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve, Friends of PBNR have a website www.pilleybridge.org.uk they also run a Facebook site and have 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’ group: Friends of Pilley Bridge 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 2 months from September to May and during the past 10 months we have had speakers on birds, bees, bats and ‘gardening for wildlife’. There are talks booked for the autumn on 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 50 people attending.
A guided walk is held weekly throughout the year through the reserve to enable people who are less able physically or who just prefer to be in company when out walking to enjoy the wildlife.
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, at38 Mead Road, adjoining the reserve.
REGULAR CURRENT USERS
Local residents, Dog walkers, 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, Wildlife photographers
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’, was supposed to be completed by GCC by May 2013. This is yet to be started.
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. A contractor has been asked to provide a handrail down one side of the slope. This is expected to be carried out shortly.
An interpretation board has been designed by local designer and member of the Friends group, Nibbs Smith. Once we confirm what logos will be included the board will be manufactured and erected at the Western end of the reserve in the Community Orchard. A blacksmith is at present making the simple archway incorporating the name ‘PILLEY BRIDGE COMMUNITY ORCHARD’ to go in the entrance to the orchard.
EDUCATION 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 September.
A ‘woodland classroom’ has recently been created within the reserve to enable teachers to bring groups of children to have outdoor lessons. We have started taking bookings from local schools. If anyone has involvement in a local school (especially NauntonPark or Leckhampton) and would like to encourage them to use the Reserve please let us know and we can arrange a meeting.
FACILITIES 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 to put in the Community Orchard.
FUTURE We are waiting to hear if Pilley Bridge has been successful in its application to get Local Nature Reserve status awarded by Natural England. The assessment took place a week ago. We have reason to be very positive about the likely outcome. This will then afford the Reserve a measure of protection for the future which can only be a good thing!
Sue King, July ’13