THE NOAK BRIDGE NATURE RESERVE SOCIETY
Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes
Hello, Members! We are coming to the end of April already - where has the time gone? Now that the weather is getting warmer there is a lot more to see from day to day, that's if you care to take time to look about you.Already we have seen on 3rd April the first Peacock butterfly on display then on 4th April two 5-spot ladybirds were observed. On 10th April there were Orange Tip butterflies, grass snakes, newts, bumble bees and wasps, all very easy to see. On Sunday, 20th April our first Brimstone butterfly was seen - so beautiful to watch as it flew around us.
Work started on Willow Pond but had to stop because newts could be seen near the site. The refurbishing work will be continued this winter when the new-look pond will take shape.
Now, here is recipe for a Crab Apple and Elderberry Jam
Chop 1.5kg of crab apples for every 2 kg of elderberries and put into a large pan
Add enough water to cover the fruit and simmer until it has reduced to a pulp (about 10 mins)
Strain the pulp through a muslin bag
Add 1 kilo of sugar to every litre of juice plus a little orange rind and a stick of cinnamon to give the mixture an extra kick
Boil the mixture rapidly to setting point (check by pouring a spoonful onto a cold saucer)
Pour into warm jars and cover
This a soft jelly and will spread easily. You may also use redcurrants and sloes for a change.
NO CYCLING SIGNS
Larger NO CYCLING signs have been posted at each end of the reserve.
Willow Pond is being refurbished! Overgrown weeds have been removed and the further end of the pond will be tackled in the autumn.
Countryside Services are not publishing an events calendar this year so we will not include our usual copy this time. Events will be advertised locally and we will try to put appropriate notices on the board and in the Chemist's shop.
Bat Watch Evening!
Betty is arranging this guided walk in our reserve with an expert leader for Saturday, 13 September. Time and details will be confirmed in the next newsletter.
Bird Watch Walks
Two morning walks have been arranged. Sunday, 27 April and Sunday, 11 May, from 10.30am until 12.30pm. Mark Williams, our ranger, will be our guide.
Annual General Meeting
The meeting will be convened in the Village Hall on Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 7.30pm. It will be a short meeting with wine and cheese to follow. Notices will be delivered to all members at the end of May with membership forms attached for 2008/2009 subscriptions due 31 May 2008.
The Society currently has 80 household memberships. Many thanks are due to Dawn and Tel of the Noak Bridge Connection who have been especially supportive in publishing information on the Society, including membership forms. In the coming year we hope to be more active in attending events including the Norsey Wood Open Day which is a good opportunity to attract new members, who are always welcome. Anyone who requires extra membership forms for friends or neighbours please contact Weed at 01268 289577.
Back issues of our newsletters are available on the Society's web site. Currently, all members receive their newsletter in printed format, but if anyone would prefer instead to receive it electronically then please email firstname.lastname@example.org, not forgetting to include your name and address.
Mark Williams, Ranger
A Stag Beetle Pyramid.
The last work party was dedicated to creating a dead wood pyramid for saproxylic invertebrates by building a structure of nearly two metres in diameter and over a metre high using woodchips at its base and vertically placed decaying logs to form the pyramid itself.
These insects are mainly the larvae of various beetles that will feed upon the fungus growing within decaying wood. The structure actually gets its name from the uncommon saproxylic invertebrate species the Stag Beetle.
Though it's not known whether the Stag Beetle is a species that's present upon the reserve the pyramid will still provide a welcome new home for many different species of beetle that in turn will also benefit the larger animals such as birds and mammals that depend on them as a source of food.
Come and join us on the third Wednesday in each month. 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, 21 May 2008 - 1pm - 3pm.
Proposed Housing Development - Eastfield Road
The request for permission to build has been withdrawn until plans have been revised. An environmental impact survey of the nature reserve is in progress and will be completed in April/May.
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.
Items for the Newsletter
What's happening? Something to say? Call Janet at 01268 526344 if you would like to contribute to the Newsletter.
We hope to have a Bat Walk on the reserve later in the year, so here are a few facts and figures that may whet your appetite for a possible closer encounter with these tiny creatures.
Bats are mammals like us. They are warm-blooded and give birth to live babies which are fed on their mother's milk. However, unlike all other mammals they can fly. They have also been around for about 50 million years.
Bats can be divided into two groups: Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera and those of us familiar with modern technology will know that mega denotes large, and micro denotes small. Just so with bats, with a few exceptions.
Megabats feed mostly on fruit, but some also eat pollen, nectar, insects, fish and frogs. Many tropical plants rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
All 16 species found in the UK belong to the micro group and feed on insects. These British bats are either vesper (Vespertillionidae) or horseshoe (Rhinolophidae) bats. Our most common bats are pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and the common pipistrelle is the smallest. It weighs about 3-8 grams (less than 1/4 ounce) and can fit inside a matchbox. It consumes about 3000 midges in a night and can live for around 16 years.
The major difference between the mega and micro bats is echolocation. Microbat's navigational skills rely on high-pitched sounds which we cannot hear but which allow them to hunt and fly around in the dark. They emit a loud noise through the nose or mouth every tenth second, and have muscles in the ear which move a bone to prevent them from being deafened by this extremely loud sound. They then listen for the returning echo between the silences and what they hear tells them what has been located, plus its distance and direction. Their eyes are small and only see in black and white, but their sight is quite good, particularly in dim light conditions. The megabats do not have this sophistication and their echolocation is based on tongue-clicking sounds.
Bats are very social creatures and the vast majority live in colonies. The horseshoe bat likes to hang upside down by its feet whilst others, particularly the common pipistrelle prefer to roost in tight crevices in rocks or close up against a neighbour. Those in the UK mate in the autumn or winter and are polygamous (a male will mate with several females). The female stores live sperm within her body and her eggs are fertilised the next spring. Gestation is 6-10 weeks depending on the species and temperature also plays an important role in the development of the foetus. If the mother chooses a cool roost, if, for example there is a shortage of food, the pregnancy will be longer, but if a warm roost is favoured by the mother then the development will be much shorter. Their babies when born are about the size of a baked bean and size-for-size that is the equivalent of a human baby weighing in at 35lbs!
In late spring or early summer female bats congregate to form maternity roosts which in the UK generally contain about 50 adult females, though some large ones can have over 1000. This helps to keep the babies warm as they do not have nests and most babies are born without fur and for these reasons maternity roosts are chosen for their warm locations. Meanwhile, the males live in bachelor roosts or on their own. Mother bats can recognise their own baby by its odour and unique squeak. The babies reach adult size after about 3 weeks and by then can also fly, but until they are able to catch insects themselves at 1-2 months the mothers continue to suckle them. When independent, the babies and mothers leave the maternity roosts and join up with the males.
UK bat species need to hibernate as their food source disappears during the winter months but before doing so they need to increase their body fat and changes in their metabolism allows for this. The most favoured places to spend the winter are in deep crevices in trees, disused railway tunnels or underground caves which provide a constant cool temperature and dampness, as bats are susceptible to dehydration. However, hibernation is not continuous and on warmer nights they can be seen out collecting food, but this does use up a lot of their fat reserves. Whilst in the state of hibernation their body temperature drops to that of their surroundings and their heart rate slows to 10-60 beats per minute, compared to 1000 beats per minute while in flight and they breathe just a few times each minute. This is all to conserve energy. Come the warmer weather they emerge from their winter quarters and can be seen around dusk.
Do bats get caught up in your hair? No, of course not - just an old wives tale!
Do remember that UK bats are protected under Schedule II of the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994 and Schedule 5 & 6 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, etc. and require a licence for them to be handled. So, enjoy watching but leave them well alone.
Researched by Joan Fynn - Thank you!