Monday, 1 April 2013

Report from the AGM 2013 - 2014

Cromwell Bottom Wildlife Group

Chairman's Report 2013 -2014

The past year has been a great for the reserve. After a slow start and cold spell to 2013 everything kicked into gear and started to bloom. Orchids had their best year ever with an estimated 600 + of different varieties, and with a new species found for the reserve in the Broad Leafed Marsh Orchid. Birds also had a good year with Goldfinch, Robin, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Wren, Willow Warblers, Little Grebe, Herons, Dunnock and Goosander. All the Tits, Whitethroat, not forgetting the King Fisher. All have had at least 1 brood and some breading twice. We had a drop in from a Little Egret, Buzzards flying over as well as Red Kites. Frogs had a bumper year; at one time the ground looked as though it was moving there were so many. Newts also had a productive year on the pond dipping day, one scoop netted as many as 37.
 Dragonflies numbers were down though plenty of Brown Hawker, a few Common Darter - one male, one female, Broad Bodied Chaser, one 4 spot Chaser, this may be due to the weather as we had a very cold spell in the spring and the larvae may have been killed off, it also may have been the habitat, which we are looking into with a view to improving the area they breed in. A good showing of Red darter but not much else, Damselflies had a fair year.  

On the work side we made a wheelchair access to the bird feeding area, cut the 3 hay meadows and the south facing bank on Tag loop, started the reed cutting,  put up more bird boxes including the Sparrow farm area in the hope of encouraging Tree Sparrows back to the reserve. Unfortunately  these were vandalised but will be put back as soon as we can. The bird viewing area was also destroyed but this has been replaced and expanded. We also built and installed a floating raft in the hope of getting Terns to nest, everything else has used it at one time or another except Terns but of course that's nature!

Up and coming work for the winter months will be continuing the reed cutting. The Woodland Trust have given us 900 trees to plant a hedgerow and the Rotarians have obtained the same amount of trees from the same trust for us and most of these have been planted with help from the children of Field Lane school in Rastrick. These in effect are replacements for the thinning we are doing to various areas of the site in line with Calderdale Countryside Dept.’s tree management policy. We have had a second supply of trees this year so if you fancy helping us plant a hedgerow keep your eyes on the blog as we have a tree planting day to arrange, it will be coming up soon so we would like to get everybody, especially families involved

Various groups are now using the reserve for educational purposes,  Kirklees Collage, Crossly Heath School, Field Lane School and Lloyd Bank. Around 20 volunteers from Lloyd Bank are giving a days work in May, we are also mentoring special needs individuals and their carer’s and hope to encourage more to come over the next few years.
One of the projects we want to visit is to reline the two Newt ponds we have and try to keep some water in them. This will be very expensive, the large pond will cost around £4000 to £5000 and this will be one our objectives for next year,  however we are looking at a way to keep water in there by topping up from another source as a temporary measure until the money becomes available to complete the project. We will also be putting in wheelchair access and a pond dipping platform on the bottom pond as well as seating for all to enjoy.

In September 2013 we had our first open day which was a huge success. We collected over £400 and after costs gave us a profit of £230, it was so productive we will be having another one on the 21st of June which is the longest day of the year. In the evening there will be a solstice walk around the reserve so please make a note in your diary and remember to bring your wallets and purses, for those who didn’t make the last one there will be a refreshment tent as well as stalls selling pictures, books, raffles +other events and also there will be live animals to hold courtesy of Cath Grammer and friends. We look forward to seeing you all there.

On the money side we have been given a grant of £302 through the Co-Op - voted for by your good selves and we thank you all for doing this, it will go towards the pond liner. The main highlight was a grant of £3000 from Lloyd’s Bank which was secured again by yourselves voting for us. The committee cannot thank you all enough for your help, this has made a big difference to the way we work. It has provided us with laptop / projector and screen which we have used already to give presentations to other groups,  we will also be purchasing a printer so we will be able to print regular newsletters, also pond dipping equipment and small binoculars for use by children on the reserve as part of our desire to get young people engaged with nature as they will be the ones to take over when we are no longer able .
As some or all of you may know we had already started buying tools and equipment for our work groups for use on the reserve that was until we had a break in, the thieves cut a hole in the fencing,  tore off a metal sheet in the Green shed opened the roller shutter doors and cut the lock off on the container and then stole almost all the new tools and equipment we had purchased, sum total of £920 luckily we have insurance and are in the process of getting some of it back .

As most of you will of seen, the recapping of north loop has commenced and is due for completion in September / October time, we have been in discussions with Hugh Firman (Conservation officer and Robin Dalton from Calderdale countryside Dept) about how this area is to be restored when complete and have a first draft to be submitted to the powers that will make the decision at the end of April, and as soon as a decision is made we will let you know.
Hopefully next year we will have the chance of giving presentations in the new Cabin which is due next year as a visitor centre. Any donations are welcome towards this and if you know of anybody wishing to donate to a good cause please let them know about us.

To finish I would like to thank you all on behalf of the committee for your support and to all who have put in their time and effort to restoring the reserve and hope you will continue to do so, and to all of you who have given donations thank you very much. The tasks that need doing are great but with your help we can achieve them .

Yours Graham

Chairman's Report 2012 - 2013

May I start by thanking everybody for their efforts this year, from the "Last of the Summer Wine" crew and all those who have given a day or more of their time to those who have donated bird food and/or money, as well as verbal support and well wishes. It all helps to know that what we are doing is appreciated.

Over the last 12 months, our membership has steadily risen, and we are now at 57 paid members, as well as associated members. This is of course excellent. However, we would like to see more. All our membership fees go to feed the birds in winter and provide materials to help us carry out our various projects.

At this point I would like to give a special thank you to two people. First, Robin Dalton from the Calderdale Countryside department, who is our guide, mentor, sounding board, benefactor, referee. Without Robins help half of what we have achieved would not have been possible. Second, when we started the group, we didn't realise what paperwork was involved in doing so, and we made a few mistakes. Luckily, we had a young lady to help and guide us, and our thanks go to Mags Bryson for keeping us on course and, I hope, continuing to do so.

We have had a great year and have achieved a lot, and on that note I would like to do a quick run-through of the year since the last AGM.

April  The membership opened, we had our first piece in the local newspaper, we finished planting over 900 trees, and the goosander had 11 young.

May  Dragonflies/common sandpiper/whitethroat and warblers were seen. We also had a water shrew on the lagoon margins, and we prepared the areas for the memorial stone and bench seat – the bench seat was kindly donated to us by Roy Barron.

June  The first moth night we had planned had to be cancelled due to bad weather. Marshalls donated and placed a stone on the prepared area on the wettest day of the year (Hebden flooded that day), and we started to expand the feeders. Three of us did a newt count in the wheel wash, again, on a very wet Saturday evening and counted approx 215. The solstice walk took place which I hope will be an annual event and is included in the Wild-side magazine for this year.

July  The rerun of the moth night was a great success. Thirteen turned out for a great evening. "Welcome" signs were put on the entrance gates, and we started to prepare the areas for the bridge between the lagoons.

August  A quiet month. However, we started to build the screen on the feeders and the steps down to them (which, I might add, have gone from strength to strength). This  is being enjoyed by all especially I am happy to say - children.

September  We expanded the screen and put in seating. We had an Open Day at the Brighouse Library. The little grebes had 4 young, which was a late brood, and the bench seat was fitted.

October  We revised our Constitution on advice from Mags Bryson – thank you, Mags. We prepared the bridge for the lagoon, had a kingfisher at the feeding station, the first redpoll of this season on the 10th of the month (I had the 11th in the sweepstake, which I believe was won by Mike). Not all was good, though – we had our camo netting stolen as well as bird feed. The hay meadows were cut a little too late this year, but with the wet weather, we weren't able to clear it all off, but then we learn from our mistakes. We put up the information board.

November  The bridge between the lagoons was completed, we had our second Open Day at Kershaw's Garden Centre with Santa, and the first sightings of waxwings in Brighouse.

December  The grass was cut on the weir bank and removed. Road signs were finally erected. The Bailey Bridge sides were fenced in, and the gate opened 12 months ahead of our initial prediction. Thanks to Calderdale Waste Management and Bob Wilkinson in particular.

January  We were blessed with good weather yet again for the work party when we installed the steps on the river side of the path between the lagoons.

February  We finished the lagoon walk with two steps at the canal side. We fitted another shelf on the bird screen, and Kershaw's Young Gardeners planted bulbs, which is part of our strategy to encourage the next generation to get involved.

March  Finally for this year, we have constructed a pontoon/raft to try to encourage common terns to nest, and we have built nest boxes for a tree sparrow farm, again to try to encourage tree sparrows back to the reserve. Both projects will be placed on the reserve ASAP.

In addition, we have had over 55,000 hits on the blog, which is an incredible amount in such a relatively short space of time and from all over the world (I believe Mike is keeping a log). I hope it's another indication that we are getting things right. We have also had visitors to the reserve from all over the north of England, and even one couple from Lowestoft, who thoroughly enjoyed their day out with us.

You may have noticed that work has now commenced on the north loop area of the reserve, For those of you who don’t know what’s going on, this area was originally a gravel pit and was then used for refuse disposal. When this came to an end it was capped with clay and then with soil. This was to be a metre in depth, however it is only 100 mm in places, this has now to be recapped at a rather large cost. This should be completed by this time next year, and after a settlement period will be opened up to the public; however, the date for this is under discussion.  Gas wells will have to be put on the area as well as ways of removing the leachates. We will also have some input as to what goes back on north loop as regards wild flowers, trees, habitat, etc. in conjunction with Hugh Firman, who is the Conservation Officer for Calderdale, and Bob Wilkinson, who is the Waste Management Officer responsible for the recapping project.  We will keep you informed as and when we know what is happening.

Last but by no means least:

I would like to give special recognition at this point to one of our members. She is one of our unsung heroes who clears the rubbish that other, shall we say, inconsiderate people, leave behind on the reserve – which gives us the chance to concentrate on the other things. So it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Committee – and it was unanimous – to award Ann Lane with lifetime membership of the Group, which in our opinion is totally deserved. Thank you, Ann, for all your efforts.

Yours Graham 

Projects for the coming year

In the late autumn of 2013 we will be working on the lagoon. This is quite a complex area, and we have already started to monitor the state of the water with regular pH-level checks, which are at the moment fairly neutral. The amount of dissolved oxygen is also being monitored; however, it seems that we don't have many nutrients, and we will continue to monitor this as well.

We also have the problem of willow encroachment, and if we don't do something soon we may well lose the lagoon altogether as we have with Lagoon 2. However, Lagoon 2 has now become its own special habitat – a rare wet woodland – but it will still need managing. We have started to cut pockets of open areas in this lagoon to encourage amphibians.

The reeds are also encroaching on Lagoon 1, and these will need to be cut back in small pockets. This will be done on a 7-year cycle. As for further monitoring, we will be doing a moth survey to see which areas of the lagoon support which types of moth. This will then give us an indication as to where to start cutting. There is also a problem with swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii). This is an invasive weed from Australia and New Zealand, and extreme care will have to be taken not to spread this to other areas. The sphagnum bog needs a great deal of work to bring it back to its former glory – more work than we can handle by ourselves.

One of our aims is to get species back that have been on the reserve but are not there at the moment, one being willow tit. Other projects will include tree sparrows, and we are in the process of building a farm for this species, to be erected shortly. We are hoping for the return of yellow hammer and wall brown butterfly. We are also trying to encourage terns to nest by building a raft, which is almost complete and will be placed in the centre of the open water as soon as possible. Bat boxes will be erected, and grass snake monitoring will be carried out.

There is much more to do, such as on the river path. This needs a lot of work to make it usable all year round, not just in dry weather. The path to the tree walk needs opening up with steps down to the "pixie wood" path. This will provide another circular walk.

We will also be thinning out some of the saplings that are taking over parts of the orchid areas. Of course, all these projects will take place only if weather permits. If we have a summer like 2012, the 1-year plan could end up being a 5-year plan.


Andy Kiz said...

Fantastic, really great to hear the plans for next year, cant wait to see the reserve this time next year! Great work everyone!

gwh said...

Thanks Andy your comments are appriciated. yours Graham

Unknown said...

I would like to thank everybody for all the hard work that has been done and will continue to be done at Cromwell. It is a great place to visit and the future plans for it means it will be even better. It is one of my favourite places to wander around.

gwh said...

Thank you M/b nice to know what we are doing give's pleasure and is appriciated. yours Graham