To coincide with the Keep Britain Tidy Great British September Clean we will be doing a litter pick along the brook on Thursday 17th September 2020 meeting at South Moorlands Leisure Centre car park at 10am. If you joined us last time you will need to bring your litter picker with you. There are a couple of spare litter pickers if you were not with us last time but would like to join us.
2020 sees the seventh year of balsam pulls along Cecilly Brook. The group started upstream at Oakamoor Road and over the years have worked downstream. Our persistence has paid off as we are noticing much less balsam at the top end of the brook.
At the first pull this year 4 volunteers worked from Oakamoor Road to Ashbourne Road clearing most of the balsam. On the second 6 volunteers worked downstream from Ashbourne Road.
A further 2 pulls took place in August with balsam being removed from the banks of the brook between Oakamoor Road and Ashbourne Road.
Earlier in the year the Friends of Cecilly Brook and Hales Hall Pool were invited to join the Waterside Care Project run by Keep Britain Tidy. Members of the group have recently been working with one of their project officers to look at ways of continuing to care for the brook and its environment.
Several members of the group met with the project officer to test the quality of the water in the brook. The water was tested for pH, phosphates, ammonia and water clarity. The results showed the brook to be healthy.
We intend to continue to monitor the health of the brook in the future by testing the water on a regular basis and to carry out freshwater invertebrate surveys looking at riverfly, which are a good indicator of the health of the brook.
On Thursday 16th January 2020 volunteers from the Friends of Cecilly Brook and Hales Hall Pool set out to uncover the art work that was completed in 2007, but had become overgrown in recent years, so disappearing from view. The installation comprises a predator/prey labyrinth offering 2 routes to a raised stone area.
The installation is located between the brook and the path near to Oakamoor Road
After working for a short while a number of stones had been found
After 3 hours work the basic framework of the predator/prey labyrinth is visible
Lucy Eames was instrumental in commissioning the art installation and way marker posts along the brook as part of a community arts project.
The intallation was completed in 2007 using local materials and metal work and was a collaboration between Ian Naylor, a local artist, and Hillary Cartmel, an artist based in South Yorkshire.
The piece was designed as a Predatot/Prey racing maze, offering 2 possible routes, designed to allow 2 people of differing physical abilities to race to a common goal.
The metal work, built by Hillary, highlights the moon crater named after Mary Blagg, born in Cheadle in 1858.
A survey was completed in July 2019 to look for evidence of water vole activity along Cecilly Brook.
Although there were no sightings of water voles there was evidence ot their activity in the form of latrines along the banks of the brook. The greatest concentration was found midway between Ashbourne Road and Oakamoor Road, with some more latrines in the section above the old JCB factory.
We are desperately trying to save our diminishing population of water voles which is under threat both nationally and locally from a variety of factors. We would like to keep disturbance of the voles to a minimum and ask dog owners to keep their dogs under close control and not let them into the brook.
The 4 balsam pulls in July and August proved to be very successful thanks to the regulars who turned out in rain and sun to tackle the ongoing problem of Himalayan Balsam.
The pulls have been going on for 5 years now and the cumulative effects are at last beginning to show with considerably less balsam in the section between Oakamoor Road and Ashbourne Road. This has allowed the group to spend more time on the area south of Ashbourne Road and here also there are signs that the regular pulls are working with less balsam in evidence.
There is still work to be done in controlling the balsam so dates for pulls next year will be published in the spring of 2020. Volunteers are always welcome. If you can help, look out for the dates on this web site.
Over 30 different species of bird have been spotted over the winter on or near the Cecilly Brook reserve.
Look out for the following: Kingfisher, Goldfinch, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Willow Tit, Greenfinch, Wren, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Redpoll, Siskin, Sparrowhawk, Blackcap, Buzzard
Members are hoping to take part in the National Willow Tit Survey 2019-2020 which runs from February to the middle of April.
Although it is the second fastest declining species in the UK after the Turtle Dove and is a red listed species we are fortunate to have Willow Tits on the reserves.
On Monday 14th January 2019 the bird boxes along the brook were cleaned out and the new willow tit boxes that were made by members were put up.
90% of the existing boxes showed signs of being occupied the previous year.
The location of all of the boxes has now been mapped using GPS to improve monitoring of activity. Members of the group will check on activity at the boxes over next year’s breeding season.
With a good turn out of volunteers we managed to make 13 bird boxes.
Various different types of boxes were made, including ones for willow tits which have been spotted on the reserve. The boxes will be put in place on the reserve later in the winter to add to the existing boxes. They will be monitored over the coming years to check on the success of the project.
Brambles are a valuable habitat for many species, but some of the brambles were encroaching on the paths around the pool and therefore needed to be cut back to ensure access is maintained across the site.
Grass was growing across the paths making them narrower. The grass was cleared from the sides of the paths to return them to their original width.
Many thanks to the volunteers who worked on the day.