The Noak Bridge
Nature Reserve Society
Newsletter - Autumn 2016
Around the Reserve with the ChairmanHello. Walking through the Reserve things look very good in general, but with the recent spell of dry weather things are not really as good as they seem. Acorns and leaves are dropping far too early and some branches are dying and dropping as well. This is not confined to the Reserve; it's happening all around. I see it whilst out and about with my work. The trees just aren't getting the water they need to produce the fruit and feed the foliage. Although there are blackberries in the Reserve they are not as large as they should be.
Unfortunately the water levels in our ponds are very low and they are becoming clogged up with a blanket weed to a level that I have not seen here before. We could really do with a good downpour.
On a lighter note our Annual General Meeting on the afternoon of Sunday 31st July was quite well attended with 21 people turning up, so we will look towards a Sunday afternoon AGM in 2017.
On the election of the Committee, there were no new nominations so we were all re-elected to our positions. David Braithwaite volunteered to fill the Committee Member position which has remained vacant for the past year. We welcome David onto the Committee and hope that he enjoys his term with us.
Work Parties - June to August 2016A bench that was removed from Fox Pond earlier in the year because it had become loose has been reinstalled as a second bench at Willow Pond near the main entrance.
Two large logs from a tree that had been cut down by a contractor some time ago were retrieved from the undergrowth using a wheelbarrow, along a dry ditch, and temporarily relocated within the Reserve. The intention is to place them in a suitable place later in the year to use as two large stools to sit and admire the view.
At each Work Party there has been much trimming of branches of various sizes around the Reserve following their growth in the prolonged late Spring mix of sun and rain, and litter has been picked up from all around the site.
It was a pleasure to welcome two of our youngest volunteers back again during the school holiday. Mark, our Ranger, spent some time with them pointing out wildlife to be seen in the reserve.
There are bats in the field next to the main entrance into the Reserve. In the Spring we hope to hold a bat survey to find the number and species of bats. I hope you find the following article interesting.
Bats are quite remarkable animals worthy of our interest and respect. They are the only mammals capable of controlled flight and their aerobatic skills have to been seen to be believed! British bats eat insects and nothing else. This makes them valuable friends and allies as many farmers and gardeners seek to reduce insect numbers, because some insects can cause damage to valuable crops and flowers.
Bats have their own exclusive order which is known as Chiroptera (meaning hand wing). They have been separated from the other insect eaters because of their ability to fly. The 'hand-wing' description is very apt, as one can see when studying the structure of a bat's wing. The bones which support the wing membrane are simply extended 'fingers', with the thumb forming a protruding hook. While the front limbs of the bat have been specially developed for flying, the hind limbs look quite insignificant and almost useless. However, the hind limbs are essential to the bat when it comes to roost, as it hangs upside down from its chosen resting place with its hind legs acting as a firm anchor by gripping whatever object or surface is available.
The most common bat seen in Britain is also the smallest of our 18 species, and is known as the pipistrelle. This little bat (wing span about 22 to 25cm) is often mistaken for a dusk-flying bird as it flits among the trees and hedgerows seeking insect prey.
Although bats have reasonable eyesight they catch their food (flying insects) by using a remarkable form of 'radar'! As the bat flies through the air it emits a series of ultrasonic squeaks (about 12-15 per second). These high-pitched sounds are usually out of range of human hearing, although some lower frequency calls are certainly audible. The sound waves from each squeaking call are projected out in front of the flying bat. As these sound waves come into contact with objects along the flight line they bounce echoes back to the bat's ears, allowing the bat to avoid obstacles or to home in on insect prey.