Balsam Pulls 2020

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 are planned for August as there is still much work to be done. See Forthcoming Events 2020 for dates, times and further details.

Water Quality Testing

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.

Forthcoming Events 2020

Following the easing of the restrictions relating to the coronavirus outbreak, we are now going ahead with the balsam pulls that had been arranged earlier in the year. Volunteers are asked to book in for the events, with a maximum of 6 people per event allowed. You must provide your own gloves and other protective equipment.

Please contact Secretary Anne Beardmore on 07748528354 to book.

Meeting on South Moorlands Leisure Centre main car park off Ashbourne Road

Cecilly Brook Balsam Pull Dates:

Sunday 16th August 10am – 3pm

Thursday 20th August 6pm – 8pm

Litter Pick

Monday 27th July 10am – 12 noon

Revealing the art installation

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

We are trying to find out more information about the installation. If anyone has any photographs or knows how the predator/prey game should be played please get in touch at cecillymill@btinternet.com

Water Vole Survey 2019

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.

Balsam Pulls 2019

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.

The view in August 2019. 5 years ago the area next to the brook was full of Himalayan Balsam

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.

Birds on the reserve

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.

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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.

January 2019 Work Party Review

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.

Scrub clearance 2018

Through the efforts of a few enthusiastic volunteers on Thursday 11th October and Monday 22nd October a section of scrub was cleared from along the brook letting in light, with the aim of improving the habitat for the water voles and kingfishers.

Some of the areas of scrub are being retained to maintain a diversity of habitat, with species such as the willow tit and other nesting birds benefiting. Unfortunately the planned work on Friday 7th December had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.