Chair's Report 2018

CBWG AGM April 25th 2018: Chairman’s Report

I would like to offer a big thank you to all the people who have worked so hard and diligently on the reserve for Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group over the last twelve months. Volunteers continue to be the core of everything we do and have achieved.
The last year has been a year to in which:

i.                        Change has been encompassed.

2017 saw us become an incorporated charity, giving us full charity status. I would like to thank Rosemary Wright for guiding us through that complex procedure. The change of status involved has meant that some of those who have been on the committee for time have chosen to step down and not seek re-election as trustees of the new incorporated group. I would like, on behalf of all the members, to thank them for their commitment and service. In their different roles, Shelagh, Margaret, and Jane have helped shape CBWG and take us forward. Though they will continuing to contribute, it will now be in a different way.  

  1. Long held plans have been fulfilled.
Those of you who come down to the reserve on a regular basis will have noticed we now have our Sand Martin Wall in place. Situated on North Loop overlooking the river we hope it will provide nesting opportunities for Sand Martins that visit the area in spring. As a group we are grateful to the Ted Fort Foundation for the grant that made that possible.
Another long held aim of CBWG has been the erection of a Barn Owl box on North Loop. Though Barn Owls are not resident on the reserve we hope that one day they will be.
A report commissioned by CMBC in 2005 highlighted the need for some major work in the lagoon if it was to be preserved as a lagoon. An important part of the suggested work was the removal of the scrub and trees that had become established in the reed-bed, thereby preventing the natural succession to woodland taking place. The last 12 months have seen us remove two thirds of those trees and we hope to remove the remaining ones later in the autumn.

  1. Disappointments have been navigated.
At the end of last year’s chairman’s report I emphasised the hope of a substantial grant from Veolia that would enable us to fulfil much of what the 2005 report recommended regarding the bringing in of water and other important steps to ensure the preservation of the lagoon.
This was not to be. The Veolia bid for the work we would like to see done in the lagoon came to a frustrating end. CMBC then incorporated much of that bid into one made through the CMBC and the Canal and River Trust. Unfortunately, this too proved unsuccessful. As a Group we press on, determined to conserve and manage the lagoon area for wildlife and people. Working in partnership with CMBC, we have helped pay for an improved path down by the river as far as the bund steps. This will enable people to walk down that area, particularly in winter, without sinking into deep mud, making it a more pleasant experience.

  1. Community and educational engagement has been ongoing.
The cabin and its facilities continue to provide an important community meeting space on the reserve. Open most Sunday’s it has become a place to talk, share and enjoy refreshments before or after walking around the reserve. The donations we receive from its use in this way provides us with valuable funds. A big thank you for all the volunteers who are part of the weekly rota.
It has been a year which has had a number of memorable highlights, not least the successful annual Open Day we held in August 2017. It was without doubt our best yet. Many thanks to David Langley for the organising of the stalls and exhibits.
As a group we have continued to work with young people. Working with a local scout group, giving guided walks, providing a learning environment for students doing Duke of Edinburgh awards have been just some of the ways we have worked with young people and families to help them engage with nature and be involved in conservation.
The newsletter continues to educate and enlarge our understanding of the reserve and the wildlife that we can see there. A big thank you to Val and all the team for the outstanding work you do.

  1. Habitat creation and management has continued.
 The saying continues to hold true. Establish the habitat and wildlife will move in. Over the 12 months, we have planted over 1400 shrubs on North Loop. These have consisted of, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Dog Rose and Guilder Rose.
 Workdays, held on the 2nd Saturday of every month and every Thursday continue to be popular and productive. A big thankyou to all who have come and helped out on these days, especially to Robin Dalton and David Langley for organising them.
These workdays also enable us to get on with the management tasks that need to be done on a regular basis on the reserve.
Two of the big management tasks we do is the annual cutting of the reeds in the lagoon and the grass on the two hay meadows. This is hard work and usually takes place in late summer or early autumn. We have opened up another pond near the canal towpath on the way to the lagoon. We have built and put in place another 30 nest boxes, mainly for Blue Tits and Great Tits. Many will be now have new occupants.
Discovering what wildlife is using the habitats we create and manage on the reserve is for me, and I hope for you, as exciting as ever. As group we want CBLNR to continue to be a great place for people and wildlife. Thank you for all those helping that to be possible.

Allan Wolfenden April 25th 2018.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that the winner of the Newsletter photo competition “A brush with nature” was Steve Midgley with a beautiful photo of a Fox. Congratulations Steve and thank you to everyone who submitted a picture. Val