Around the Reserve with the Chairman
As you enter the Reserve you will see a very smart new Interpretation Board. We have one at each entrance. They tell you what's in the Reserve and where, by way of a map with pictured information around the edge.
We have had one of our contractors working on site recently. One of his jobs was to cut an overflow into the rear of the bank of Puckles Pond (the pond with the dipping platform) to send the excess water into a nearby ditch in order to alleviate the annual flooding of the nearby walkway. The ditch runs from the rear of the pond and across the centre of the Reserve to the stream running along the North side. He had no need to alter the bank itself as there was already an overflow to the ditch. However with the ditch being left unchecked for many years, it had become overgrown and clogged all along with tress, fallen branches and mud causing the pond to overflow on to the walkway. He cleared it of the fallen braches and cut up some fallen trees and roots to clear it. The pond should no longer overflow and the adjoining walkway should now remain easily passable. The ditch will be something for us to monitor in the future.
We now have all the walkways either replaced or repaired as reported in previous newsletters, which hopefully will make walking the reserve a pleasure no matter what the weather or time of year.
On the Work Party with the Treasurer -
The wooden edges of some areas of the new paths have opened out after the very wet months so the gaps have been filled with more gravel, and the gravel on the steps has been topped up and smoothed after settling with use since they were renewed last year.
September to November 2015
There has been much trimming of branches of various sizes with secateurs and loppers all around the reserve and plenty of litter has been picked up from all around the site including a plastic flower pot, a traffic cone, and a two-legged wooden chair!
Some of the chicken wire on the dipping platform at Puckles Pond has been replaced where a small area had broken. It was laid nearly three years ago because the pond flooded following prolonged heavy rain and the platform had become slippery.
A check on the various species of plant and wild life is made during most work parties and these are listed on the website.
Many of you will be placing a Holly Wreath on your door at Christmas
Interesting fact: the Mistle Thrush is known for vigorously guarding the berries of holly in winter, to prevent other birds from eating them!
Mature trees can grow up to fifteen metres and live for three hundred years. The bark is smooth and thin with numerous small, brown 'warts' and the stems are dark brown with the leaves dark green, glossy and oval. Younger plants have spiky leaves, but the leaves of older trees are much more likely to be smooth. The leaves in the upper parts of the tree are also likely to be smooth.
The holly is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers occur on different trees. Flowers are white with four petals. Once pollinated by insects, the female flowers develop into scarlet berries which can remain on the tree throughout winter. It is easily identified by its bright red berries and shiny leathery leaves with their spiny prickles around the edges. It is unlikely to be confused with other trees and shrubs although many cultivated and variegated varieties exist.
Holly is evergreen so its leaves remain green year round. It is native in the UK and across Europe, North Africa and western Asia. It is commonly found in woodland, scrub and hedgerows, especially in oak and beech woodland.
Popular as an ornamental shrub, holly is widely planted in parks and gardens, and there are many cultivated forms featuring alternative foliage and berry colours. It provides dense cover and good nesting opportunities for birds, while its deep, dry leaf litter may be used by hedgehogs and small mammals for hibernation. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of the Holly Blue butterfly those of various moths including the Yellow Barred Brindle, Double-striped Pug and the Holly Tortrix.
The smooth leaves found higher up the holly tree are a winter source of food for deer, and the berries are a vital source of food for birds in winter, They are also eaten by small mammals such as wood mice and dormice.
Holly branches have long been used to decorate homes in winter. The tree was seen as a fertility symbol and a charm against witches, goblins and the devil. It was thought to be unlucky to cut down a holly tree.
Holly wood is the whitest of all woods, and is heavy, hard and fine grained. It can be stained and polished and is used to make furniture and in engraving work. It is commonly used to make walking sticks. Holly wood also makes good firewood and burns with a strong heat. The branches are still used to decorate homes and make wreaths at Christmas.
[This article was put together with information obtained from the Internet.]
The Committee would
like to wish you all a
Merry Christmas and a
Very Happy New Year