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Spring 2004  http://www.nbnrs.org.uk


Basildon Council Countryside Services Events

Bluebell Walk

Norsey Wood Nature Reserve, Billericay

Sunday, 25 April

2pm - 3pm

Flower Hour

Mill Meadows Nature Reserve, Billericay

Wednesday, 2 June

10.30am - 1.30pm

Booking Essential - 01277-624553

Tree Identification Workshop

Queens Park Country Park, Billericay

Sunday, 13 June

2pm - 4pm

Booking Essential - 01277-624553


Noak Bridge Nature Reserve

Sunday, 20 June

12pm - 4pm


   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

Spring has finally arrived after the icy cold winter we have just had. It's good to see the pink and white blossom on the trees and also in the hedgerows and the daffodils waving in the breeze. This is a great time for all wildlife. Now you can watch the birds busy building their nests, there is frog spawn in the ponds and great crested newts and reptiles will be coming of hibernation. It all happens like magic!

Since the last newsletter the first pond has been cleared of fish by the Environmental Agency and they will be back at the end of the year to remove any that may still be there and to clear fish from the other ponds. We have to make it clear that we do not want fish in these ponds.

We are pleased to inform those who are interested that the work parties have restarted. We do not have a new ranger yet but we did have four of our Countryside Services friends from Wat Tyler Country Park. Thanks to Gary and Steve we had a great time but it would be nice to see a few more volunteers from our membership. Just 2 hours a month - we could do with the support.

I am going to tell you something funny that happened one day on the reserve. One morning as I was walking round the reserve I thought I could hear a cat meowing. It sounded in great distress so I looked and looked for it but I just couldn't find it. I decided to look one more time and I found it was a Jay after all! Has anyone else had a similar experience? If you have I would like to hear from you; it seems these birds are great mimics.

We seem to have had some vandalism on the reserve lately. Padlocks have been stolen and notice boards have been defaced or thrown in ponds with a selection of bottles, crisp and cigarette packets. Why do they do it?

See you all at the Open Day - Sunday, 20 June - 12.pm - 4.pm.

Members! What would you like the Society to do for you?

Your committee would really like to hear from you! Walks could be arranged to talk about the history of the site, or to record the species of flowers in the reserve, we could invite an expert on dragonflies and pond-life, fungi, spiders or anything else you would like to know about. How about an evening slide show in the winter? Please call me at 531365 with your brilliant ideas!


We now have total of 62 households currently signed up. Membership subscriptions for 2004/2005 will be due on 1 June 2004. Forms will be distributed with the AGM documents at the end of May. For information please contact Weed on our website or by telephone at 289577.

Subscriptions may be given to Weed at 44 Lower Street or to Janet Bircham at 42 Crouch Street.


Don't forget to look at our web-site. Weed updates the information regularly.  http://www.nbnrs.org.uk.

   OPEN DAY! Sunday, 20 June 2004  12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Our own special day - make sure you don't miss it! Come and see the Owl Wise birds of prey exhibit, local crafters, local nature reserves exhibits and representatives from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Basildon Parks and Grounds. There will be a dragonfly walk at 2 pm and the children will be able to participate in pond-dipping supervised by Basildon Council Countryside Services rangers throughout the afternoon.

   Annual General Meeting

July or August - date to be announced. Notices and agendas will be delivered to you at the end of May.

   Work Parties

We'll be meeting again as usual from 1pm until 3pm on Wednesday, 14 April and Wednesday, 19 May. Until our new ranger is appointed Marcus Hotten from Wat Tyler Country Park will supervise our activities. Come along and enjoy the Spring weather - meet at Eastfield Road entrance.


Folklore of Trees


If the sun shone through the branches of an Apple tree on Christmas day the farmer would have a good harvest from that tree. In order to ensure this, a piece of toast was put into the fork of the tree or alternatively the largest apple in the orchard.
Wassailing was a ceremony held in cider making regions. Thanks were given to the wood spirits and those that safeguarded the crop. Songs and verses were chanted whilst the remaining cider was thrown over the trees.
Apple twigs make good divining rods.


In Dorset the number of leaflets on an Ash leaf could be used to predict the romantic future for girls.

An even Ash leaf in my hand
The first I meet shall be my man
An even Ash leaf in my bosom
The next I meet shall be my husband

Ash berries were placed in a cradle to prevent the child from being traded for a changeling.
It was believed that more work could be done with tools having handles made from Ash than those made from other wood.
Ash trees were thought to attract lightning, "Ash courts the flash". The trees were also used in European fire and rain making ceremonies.
Belief was, that much hostility existed between Adders and Ash trees. If an adder were placed in a circle of Ash leaves broken only by fire, then the Adder would go through the fire to escape.
Irish migrants to America carried pieces of Ash with them as a charm against drowning.
A Yule log of Ash was thought to bring future prosperity to the family.


There are many legends associated with "the trembling" of Aspen leaves, which is also known as the "Shivering tree".
One is that Christ's cross was made from the wood of Aspen and the tree was so full of remorse and grief that it has trembled ever since.
In Germany the legend is that the Holy Family was walking in a forest and all the trees bowed except the Aspen. The Holy Child cursed the tree whereupon the leaves began to tremble and have done so ever since. Some thought the Aspen could help cure fevers. Nail clippings should be taken from the sick person and placed in a cut made in the trunk. The hole should then be sealed.


The Beech is a popular tree with lovers for carving their initials and symbols on its bark.
Water Diviners also favour forked branches from Beech trees traditionally called "Wishing Rods"


Mythical creatures known as "Forest Devils" or "Genii of the Forest" inhabited Russian forests and the Birch was their preferred tree. These creatures were able to transform their shape at will, becoming as tall as the trees when in the forest and as small as a blade of grass when on open land. They could be made to appear by placing cut Birch branches in a circle with the points toward the centre.
A Birch branch placed above the front entrance to a property was thought to provide protection from evil spirits and misfortune.
The bark of the Birch tree was traditionally used in ancient times for writing, as it is extremely durable.


This short rhyme was repeated when counting the number of Cherry stones left after eating a meal, which indicated when, and if you are to marry.

    1. This year,
    2. Next year,
    3. Sometime,
    4. Never...back to 1
The owner of a Cherry tree could be sure of having a bumper crop of fruit if the first cherry to ripen was eaten by a woman who had recently given birth to her first child.


The British believed that a child in an Elder wood cradle would be pinched black and blue by the fairies.
Fen people were afraid of Elder flowers. They believed that if the scent were inhaled a deep coma, then death would occur.
Branches of Elder were buried with the dead to protect them from evil spirits. Elder was also used for the whip handles of hearse drivers.
It was considered unlucky to break off an Elder twig. Permission from the tree was sought before pruning it, and to spit three times before cutting.
Witches were also thought to disguise themselves as Elder trees, and the English believed that burning Elder logs brought the devil into the house.

Researched by Joan Fynn, Thank you!

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last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0404/index.html