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Spring 2006


   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

Now we are well into March and hasn't it been a cold winter! We had a warm spell in February and the birds started nesting. Then the cold weather returned and nesting stopped - it seems our seasons are out of sinc. Regular walkers in the reserve will have noticed we have had a lot heavy lopping of blackthorn and blackberry bushes as they were tending to take over too much space. Once again we have had the Environment Agency come to remove the last of the fish from the ponds. There is still a lot of work to be done so we need more volunteers to help the work parties on the 3rd Wednesday in the month from 1pm until 3pm. Tools, gloves, etc. are provided by our ranger, Mark Williams.

I hope you have been keeping a lookout for new birds arriving. Did anyone spot the redwings? We had quite a few but we do seem to lack the ducks and moorhens - only one seen so far with two young ones.

Special notice  for our members: we are having a Bird Watching guided walk on Sunday, 9 April from 10am until 12 noon. We would like to see as many of you as possible to make the day a success. Who knows what else we may see as we walk around the reserve?

We are now looking into the feasibility of arranging a work party on a Saturday or Sunday. Let us know if you would be interested. Call Betty at 01268-531365.

Happy Easter, everyone!


We currently have 84 household memberships in the Society. New memberships opened 1 March - 30th April 2006 are valid through the following membership year (1 June 2006 - 31 May 2007). Subscriptions and donations may be sent to Weed at 44 Lower Street (tel: 01268 289577) or to Janet Bircham at 42 Crouch Street.

   Internet  -  http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

A pond gallery has been added to the Society's website and the butterflies and moths gallery has been updated. Would anyone seeing interesting animals or plants in the reserve please let us know so that we may include the information on the Wildlife page -
either e-mail them to info@nbnrs.org.uk
or post them to the NRS Discussions section of the Forum.

The web space is kindly provided by Noakbridge.net and everyone is encouraged to join in the forum there. As well as having a section on the Nature Reserve Society, there are also sections on items of general interest to the local community.

   Work Parties

We meet at the Eastfield Road entrance on the third Wednesday in the month - 1pm to 3pm with Ranger Mark Williams. We would like to see more members and non-members coming along to enjoy the fresh air and join in a few routine tasks in the reserve. Come on, you might like it!

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, 19 April 2006.

   Mark Williams, Ranger, Basildon Countryside Services


There is a range of oak trees at various stages of growth upon the Noak Bridge Nature Reserve but we're practically fortunate to have a good number of maturing specimens.

The Oak can reach to 45 metres with a ragged crown. but more normally its leading shoot is eaten, forcing out side branches to form a large spreading dome up to 20 metres in height. The twisted furrowed bark is greyish in colour. The leaves grow on very short stalks and have deep lobes.

Oak trees can support an incredible number of plant & animal species including well over 300 lichens & over 400 spiders & insects. This includes nearly 200 species of butterflies and moths.

In the spring the rich bounty of caterpillars feasting on the season's new leaves attracts many feeding & breeding woodland birds in search of food for their young. A single Great Tit may eat up to 300 caterpillars a day!

Mature Oak trees have a labyrinth of branches providing suitable surface areas for colonising plants such as algae, mosses, ferns, as well as a foothold for climbing plants such as ivy. These plants offer a wealth of microhabitats in their own right.


We have written to Basildon Council requesting that they consider adopting a by-law, which would allow the prosecution of owners refusing to clean up after their pets. However, the Council does not plan to do this at the moment. Walkers in the reserve have been threatened and frightened by unleashed dogs. If you witness such an incident please write down the date, time, details of the occurence and call the dog warden at 01268-294280 or Betty Haynes at 01268-531365.

   Bird Watching - Sunday 9 April 2006, 10am - 12 noon

A guided walk with Mark Williams, Ranger in Noak Bridge Nature Reserve.

   Barleylands Fun Walk

Sunday, 21 May 2006.  Sponsored by John Baron our Member of Parliament.

   Items for the Newsletter

If you have something you would like to put in this newsletter please call Janet Bircham at 01268-526344.


The Noak Bridge Nature Reserve Society
Thursday, 6 July 2006 - 7.30 pm - in the Village Hall
Wine and Cheese!


Sunday, 9 April 2006       Bird Watching       Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
10am - 12 noon

Wednesday, 12 April
Booking essential*
      Spring Fun
£2 per child
      Wick Country Park
10am - 12 noon 6-8 years old
1pm - 3pm 9 - 12 years old

Saturday, 15 April
Booking essential*
      Easter Egg Hunt
£2.50 per child
      Wat Tyler Country Park
10am - 11.30am or
12.30pm - 2.00pm

Sunday, 23 April       Bluebell Walk       Norsey Wood, Billericay
10.30am - 2.30pm

Saturday, 29 April
Booking essential*
      Dawn Chorus Walk       Norsey Wood

Sunday, 11 June
Booking essential*
      Wildflower Walk       Mill Meadows, Billericay

Sunday, 5 June       Grasshoppers and
      Wick Country Park
2pm - 4pm

Sunday, 29 June
Free taxi
from Pitsea
Rail Station

      Teddy Bears Picnic
Rides, bouncy castle
      Wat Tyler Country Park
10am - 2.30pm
Saturday, 1 July
Booking essential*
      Tree Identification       Norsey Wood, Billericay

Sunday, 9 July       Woodland
      Nevendon Bushes
2pm - 4pm

Sunday, 16 July
Booking essential*
      Wildlife at
Wat Tyler
      Wat Tyler Country Park
10am - 12 noon

Booking essential*
8 & 9 August
15 & 16 August
22 & 23 August
      Sizzling Summer Fun
8 - 12 years old
Bring packed lunch
      Wat Tyler Country Park
Norsey Wood
The Wick Country Park

Sunday, 13 August       Crickets and
Dragonflies Safari
      The Wick Country Park
2pm - 4pm

Please call  01268-550088  to book marked events

Spring Flowers

COMMON BLUEBELL  (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Also known as the English bluebell it is native to the British Isles and Western France, and is a member of the Hyacinth family. The traditional name "non-script" is from the classical hyacinth which according to Greek legend sprang from the blood of the dying prince Hyacinthus. It blooms in April and May forming dense carpets of flowers in woods, but there is concern however, that the native bluebell is in danger of hybridisation by Hyacinthoides hispanica (the Spanish bluebell). It is the national flower of Scotland and is a symbol of constancy and kindness.

Though a member of the Iris family it does not resemble other members. (The autumn crocus is one of the Lily family.)There are 100 species, with about 30 of them cultivated with colours from white and yellow to lilac and mauve. It grows naturally from the Aegean Sea across to Asia, and appears in Minoan frescoes at Santorini. Saffron is obtained from the stamens of one particular species, the name taken from the latin "crocatus" meaning saffron yellow. It is a symbol of cheerfulness and mirth.

DAFFODIL  (Narcissus)
A member of the Narcissus family and although mostly known for its yellow shades it can also be orange, pink and lime green. The name is from the Greek which refers to its narcotic properties and was first cultivated by the Romans. It is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the Spring. The Duke of Cornwall (Prince Charles) is paid one daffodil annually as rent for the unattended lands of Scilly. It is now being grown for galanthine which may help in the treatment of Alzheimers disease. It is the national flower of Wales and believed to represent chivalry or respect.

PRIMROSE  (Primula vulgaris)
A member of the primula family of which there are more than 500 species originating in China. Also included are the cowslip and marsh marigold but not the Evening primrose. The primrose is mainly yellow though there are purple, red pink or white varieties. The name originates from being the first or prime rose to flower each year, with the cowslip supposedly named from growing alongside rocky streams on which cows would slip whilst crossing. Primrose flowers can be made into jam or wine and were used in ancient times to treat paralysis and gout; it is still used for rheumatism and insomnia. Its five petals represent birth, initiation, consummation, repose and death. A six petal led flower it brings good luck in love and marriage. It is a particular food plant for many butterfly species and is pollinated at night by moths lured to its bright petals. Ants are attracted by the sticky seeds which aids dispersal. Primroses were left on doorstops on May day to stop witches entering, and were also hung outside cowsheds to prevent the witches stealing the milk. In Hampshire the flowers were boiled in lard to make an ointment to treat injuries.

SNOWDROPS  (Galanthus nivalis)
A genus of the lily family having about 20 species. It is the first to flower in Spring and is a symbol of consolation and hope. It is believed to be unlucky to bring a single flower into the house. It is also known as, Eve's Tears, February Fair Maid and Dewdrop. Folklore has it flowering on Candle mass.

VIOLET  (Viola odorata) - Sweet viola
From the violaceae family of which there are some 400 species worldwide. (The African violet is not related) It has deep purple forms. It is the common violet of the English countryside. Great Britain has the only native violet with scented flowers. The young leaves are edible and rich in vitamins, though eating large quantities of seeds or roots can lead to stomach upset and breathing difficulties. Legends abound, including that which believed Venus beat a group of women, (her rivals in the beauty stakes) until they were blue. St Valentine, whilst in prison, was supposed to have written to his loved ones in ink made from the flowers. It is also associated with modesty. The Romans made wine from the flowers and through the ages it was used in cosmetics. While Napoleon was on Elba he supposedly told friends he would return to France "when the violets appeared in Spring". To determine if a stranger was loyal, he would be asked whether he liked violets. A yes or no answer meant he could not be relied upon but "eh bien" was the response of a loyal supporter

- Our thanks to Joan Fynn

A Basildon Council Countryside Services Event


Guided Walk

Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
Eastfield Road

Sunday, 9 April 2006
10am - 12 noon


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last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0604/index.html