The next work party will be on Monday 14th January 2019 when we will be cleaning out the bird boxes along the brook and also doing a few other jobs if time allows.
If you are able to help out, even if only for half an hour or so, please come along from 10am to South Moorlands Leisure Centre main car park off Ashbourne Road.
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.
Alongside the brook there is a buffer strip which links the brook with the adjacent amenity grassland. Each year one third of this area is strimmed and the material removed to keep the fertility of the soil low to encourage a range of wild flowers and grasses. This work is done on a 3 year rotation, with a different area cleared each year. This helps prevent the strip degenerating into scrub and provides a more diverse habitat to help support the local water vole population and other wildlife.
The above areas were amongst those cleared as part of the rotation in October 2018.
Look out for willow tits which have been heard recently along the brook. Also look out for Redwings, Fieldfares, Siskins, Long Tailed Tits, Nuthatches and Kingfishers, as well as the normal garden birds you would expect to see in the winter.
Buzzards have nested near to the reserve and can often be seen soaring overhead.
It will soon be time to look out for this year’s Starling murmurations and winter migrants, especially at Hales Hall Pool.
Cheadle Angling Club spotted juvenile Oystercatchers flying around Hales Hall Pool (April 2018)
A number of people have recently said that they have not seen any water voles in the brook.
However there is evidence of water vole burrows and latrines in the section between Ashbourne Road and Oakamoor Road. A recent survey in the summer of 2018 has located 11 latrines in this section with a further 5 in the area behind Ullswater Drive. A number of water voles have been seen by members, particularly in the middle section of the reserve. Unfortunately there has been no evidence of water vole activity south of Ashbourne Road.
As part of the planning application for the old JCB site a survey also recorded the presence of water voles in this area.