THE NOAK BRIDGE NATURE RESERVE SOCIETY
Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes
Welcome to the last Newsletter of 2007. Chilly today! Let us all look forward to a warmer New Year! 2007 has had very changeable seasons, confusing the wildlife and myself. Talking about seasons out of sync, I have had cowslips in flower since early November. They are still flowering - four months too soon. Have any of our members seen something similar? If so, then please let us know. Call me at 01268-531365.
There are a few people I would especially like to thank for their contribution to the Society. First of all, our members, who support us year in, year out. Thank you all. Then there are our community police officers who help look after the reserve. Since they started walking around we do not have as many incidences of vandalism. Many thanks to Mark and Gary, our Countryside Services Rangers for their dedication to the reserve. Lastly, and these are the most important people, the Work Party/Committee who tirelessly work on the reserve and for reserve regularly and cheerfully for the benefit of all. Thank you, everybody!
Twelve members enjoyed our annual ramble in spite of the unkind weather. Due to a heavy downpour we shortened the walk and hurried to the Village Hall for our delicious mince pies and warming mulled wine. We always wish more of you would come along so that we can show our appreciation for your support and celebrate the season together.
We currently have 72 fully paid-up members (households). If you are one of those who haven't yet paid the 2007/2008 subscription you will find a membership form attached. New members are always welcome, so anyone who requires extra membership forms for friends or neighbours please contact Weed at 01268 289577. Although we try to thank all individual members who make donations, if for some reason you haven't received an acknowledgement then rest assured that this was an oversight and your contribution was very much appreciated. It is because of the generosity of our members that we have not needed to increase our membership subscription since the Society was formed in 1999.
The Society is grateful to Noakbridge.net for providing free internet email and web space. The site is regularly updated with details of coming events and has copies of the newsletter going back to Autumn 2003. There is also a section for wildlife observed in the reserve. Each year we try to list the first sightings of the different species. Please help by letting us know of any mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, etc. that you see which are not already on the list for the current year. Details of the monthly work party activities and information on future Basildon District Council's Country Services events can be found on the Society's website.
No work party in December. BIG THANK YOU! to all our helpers for their support during the year. Please look for our notices on our notice board at the Eastfield Road entrance and in the Chemist's shop window.
Next Work Party - Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 1pm-3pm
Proposed Housing Development - Eastfield Road
The request for permission to build has been withdrawn until plans have been revised.
If you have been threatened or frightened by unleashed dogs in the reserve please write down the date, time, details of the occurence and call the dog warden at 01268-294280 or Betty Haynes at 01268-531365.
Next Committee Meeting. Thursday, 21 February 2008
Items for the Newsletter
What's happening? Something to say? Call Janet at 01268 526344 if you would like to contribute to the Newsletter.
BIRDS IN WINTER
The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.
At Christmas our thoughts turn to food, more so probably than at any other time of the year, but whilst we are shopping, preparing and cooking our festive feasts, please spare a thought for our feathered friends. Winter is a particularly harsh time for the birds but it doesn't take much time or expense to help them through this cold period. The Reserve is an important habitat for the local birds as new roads, houses, etc. have now taken over many acres of land previously used by wild birds and other wildlife. Some common birds are now under threat, these include house sparrows, song thrushes, starlings and bullfinches.
So how can we help?
In the United Kingdom, private gardens add up to over one million acres of land so putting out food and water for the birds provides a valuable resource for them which can have a significant impact on their survival rate. In bad weather small birds, i.e. the blue tit and robin may consume more than 30% of their body weight just to stay alive.
Which food is best?
Peanuts have a high protein content and are popular with many species, but there are one or two points to bear in mind. Do not put out whole peanuts unless they are in a wire mesh feeder as chicks can choke on whole or large pieces of nuts. Also, peanuts in nets can be dangerous as bird tongues and feet can become entangled in the mesh. Peanut nibs and pieces are available; these are a bird-beak size nutritious snack. Sunflower seeds are another favourite, as are sunflower hearts (these have the outer husk removed which eliminates the effort required to extract the heart, thus saving energy). Other foods easily obtainable include Nyger seed, peanut cakes and mixed seed blends. Raisins and sultanas are also favourites with many species, but should be put out where dogs and cats cannot get at them, as they could be harmful. Do not put out too much food at a time as it quickly becomes stale and could become contaminated - little and often if just fine. However, if you do start, please continue all winter. Your help is also needed all year round, particularly during the breeding season.
Besides providing food for our feathered friends water is also vitally important. Clean, fresh water is essential for garden wild birds, particularly those whose diet mainly consists of dry seeds. Bathing is crucial as it helps maintain their feathers and aids preening. Providing fresh water daily during the winter is vital as other water sources may be frozen.
By carrying out these few simple tasks we could help support the birds which inhabit the reserve; after all, they don't know where the reserve ends and where our gardens begin. Doing our bit on our own patch could contribute to the maintenance of the bird population of our reserve.
As different birds prefer different foods, just like us, I have given an indication of their preferences below.
Peanut cake -
Thank you, Joan and Peter Fynn
* Betty Haynes feeds the birds in the Reserve several times a week. She leaves a huge selection of these bird foods on our bird table.