We continue to monitor water quality once a month at Cecilly Brook. The results generally show that the brook has a good or very good ecological status. Phosphate levels are always low, but nitrate levels vary recording higher levels in certain months especially after heavy rain.
Over the last year 43 bags of litter have been removed from and around Cecilly Brook, mainly plastic in the form of drinks bottles and snack packaging, glass bottles and cans. We have also removed larger items from the brook itself including shopping trolleys, bicycle wheels, metal poles and a children’s scooter.
Cubs from 2nd Cheadle Scout Group presented one of the bat boxes they had made to Friends of Cecilly Brook for putting up on the reserve, when they attended the very successful Bat and Moth Evening Adventure in August. 50 people attended the evening, both adults and children. We were able to show them different species of moths that had been caught in the light trap and we listened to Pipistrelle bats’ echo locations on our walk along the brook.
After twice being cancelled because of snow, it was third time lucky for the hedge planting on Cecilly Brook nature reserve on 16th March.
Seven volunteers helped Mark, Senior Reserves Officer for Staffs Wildlife Trust, to plant native hedging whips including hawthorn, holly, blackthorn and dog rose at the top of the Thorley Drive meadow.
When established the hedge will provide a natural corridor for wildlife as well as providing shelter and food. Hedges also sequester carbon and help mitigate flooding.
The recent wet weather should help the whips to get established.
On 29th September we did a riverfly survey using the kick sampling method, taking in total a 3-minute sample from the riverbed. Lots of Gammarus and quite a few small Olives as well as other invertebrates and some surprises like a Bullhead were caught in the sample.
Later in the year on 3rd November we did some invertebrate sampling, again using the kick sampling method, with a group of Eco Warriors from one of our local primary schools.
Some of the invertebrates we identified included: a Burrower Mayfly larva, a Caseless Caddisfly larva, Gammarus, Water Slater, small Olives, Midge larvae.
Volunteers worked with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust officers Mark and Will to clear the leaves from the paths running alongside Cecilly Brook on 24th November. When wet the leaves can be really slippery so we try to clear away as many as possible.
Leaf litter is however really important in lots of ways. The fallen leaves put nutrients back into the soil and provide nesting material, hiding places and protected spots for animals. They provide shelter for toads, hedgehogs and caterpillars in the winter and food for wood lice and other mini beats and fungi.
The pictures below show the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) next to the road bridge at Oakamoor Road. CSOs carry away both sewage from homes and storm water from drains and roads. They are a safety valve to release pressure when large volumes of water enter the sewers, for example during a heavy storm. The excess water enters into watercourses to prevent flooding of homes and buildings.
This first picture shows all the wet wipes on the grid of the CSO. These have made their way into the sewerage system having been flushed down toilets. Many also get into Cecilly Brook or get attached to overhanging branches. Not all wipes labelled flushable and biodegradable disintegrate once flushed. They can take 500 years to decompose as some contain plastic resins and so pose a risk to local wildlife and the environment.
A big thank you to the Severn Trent River Rangers who removed all the wipes and cleaned up around the overflow after the Friends of Cecilly Brook and Hales Hall Pool met up with Senior River Ranger Stuart Hill. As this picture shows they did a really great job.
Please only flush the 3Ps – Poo, Pee, Paper – so we don’t have this problem again in the future.
Our latest project has been completed with the installation of a pedestrian gate, purchased with the aid of a grant from Cheadle Town Council, in the newly planted hedge line. This will help improve access to the smaller wildflower meadow on the nature reserve. The pedestrian gate was installed by volunteers from our group a few weeks after the planting of the hedge .
The whips planted along the hedge line in February have all taken and are now starting to grow, ultimately providing valuable habitat for birds, small mammals, bees and other insects.
12 volunteers, Mark from SMDC and 22 children plus staff from two of our local junior schools (Bishop Rawle and Cheadle Primary) planted 60 metres of native hedging on 17th February 2022. The planting was done along the fence of the small meadow to complete the project started a number of years ago.
258 whips, which included Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Holly, Dog Rose and Crab Apple were planted and protected with canes and tree guards. When the hedge grows it will provide valuable shelter and habitat for many species.