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Summer 2006




   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

What a strange year it has been! It seemed that winter went on and on and then suddenly, a warm spell and the birds began to build their nests. Then another cold snap and then summer really arrived - and what a summer it has been! No rain, so our ponds have really suffered the most. We still have some water in two ponds so don't give up on us yet! We will not need the Environment Agency this year to remove the fish - any that remained the herons caught or the kingfisher so they were well fed.

Now to the more serious matters to be reported. This year we have had more trouble on the reserve than we need. Early in May the committee put up a kestrel box to encourage the kestrels to nest here but two weeks later it was stolen. The police were informed and are regularly monitoring the reserve. Graffiti has been found all over the reserve so the Society bought woodstain and painted all the benches and the pond decking. Would that be enough? No, the vandals then set fire to the decking. If one of our regular dog walkers had not been there the whole deck could have gone up in flames. Our thanks to Charlie and his dog Sadie. Charlie put out the flames before they became out of control. Soon after that, another hazard for us: a fairly new car was dumped in the reserve, set alight and totally destroyed. The next item for vandals to attack was our bird table which they completely demolished. Another of our regular dog walkers, Les Sharrard made the original bird table with the help on his son, Lee. Les rescued the remains and reconstructed the table. Thank you, Les.

Those of you who walk the reserve regularly will have met our Police Community Support Officer, P.C. Chris Higginson, contact No. 07969-365610. Chris is based in Billericay. He regularly walks around Noak Bridge and stops to talk to residents he meets on his travels. It is good to have a police officer walking the area.

Finally, we would like to thank all of our members who have supported us throughout the year with donations and subscription renewals. Our thanks also to all our dog walkers who take the time to let us know if they encounter any problems. BIG thank you to all members and non members who have supported our work parties on the third Wednesday of each month.

I hope to see all of you on our Autumn Ramble, Sunday 29 October, 10am - 12noon and of course at our Yuletide Ramble on Sunday, 10 December followed by mulled wine and mince pies at the Village Hall. For more information call Betty at 01268-531365.

   ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. Thursday, 6 July 2006


Committee   -   Betty Haynes, Chair
Tony Youé, Vice-chair
Janet Bircham, Secretary
Ralph Chapman, Treasurer
Weed, Membership Secretary
Joan Fynn
Peter Fynn

1.  Apologies

Terri Sargent
2.  Chairperson's Welcome and Report - Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes welcomed 13 members to our Annual General Meeting and thanked Terri Sargent for the use of the Village Hall again. She was sorry to report that Tony Youé, Vice-Chair has resigned from the committee due to other commitments. Betty thanked him for his dedication and support during the past four years and hoped we would see him at forthcoming events.

One of the special bird nesting boxes purchased last year has been placed in an appropriate location to attract owls but unfortunately, the kestrel box was removed and stolen soon after it was installed. A replacement will be provided and a new site selected for its installation. Our benches are continually vandalised with graffiti, attempted burning and even in one case, complete destruction. The water warning notices at each pond are constantly defaced or thrown into the water and have to replaced immediately as required by law. These acts have been reported to the Council and to the police.

There was no Open Day this year as the event has been very poorly supported and attended. We will probably arrange more weekend guided walks in future as these seem to be more popular.

3.  Matters Arising from the Minutes of the AGM held 7 July 2005

1.  Item 2 should have stated that the Environment Agency, not English Nature helped remove the fish from the ponds.
2.  Sponsorship of special bird nesting boxes should read £5.00 per year.
3.  Open Day. Not a successful or popular event. More guided walks may be more appropriate.
4.  Adoption of the Minutes of AGM July 7 2005

Joan Fynn proposed and Ralph Chapman seconded the adoption of the 2005 AGM minutes.

5.  Treasurer's Report - Ralph Chapman

Ralph Chapman presented the annual Statement of Accounts which recorded a balance of £855.54. Members suggested that Ralph might look into investing some of this amount in a higher interest earning account.

6.  Membership Secretary's Report - Weed

During the year we lost 6 members and gained 7. Our total membership is now 85 households - the highest ever number. Of those households 74 are from Noak Bridge, Noak Mead and Steeple View. Of the original 47 members in 1999, 21 of them are still members. Our thanks to all for your support and to all the members who have also contributed donations. Subscriptions are now due for 2006/2007. Lots of information on our web-site (http://www.nbnrs.org.uk).

7.  Countryside Services - Mark Williams

Mark is preparing a 5-year plan for the reserve with helpful suggestions from the Society. Spanish Steps will be replaced with a new design to incorporate shallower steps for easier access. Cutting back continues, and the maintenance/filling-in of the path through the meadow to Spanish Steps will be completed shortly. We will have the assistance of Gary and his Countryside Services staff for these projects. A new kestrel box will purchased and Countryside Services will install it again.

8.  Election of Officers and Committee

Betty Haynes announced Tony Youé's resignation from the committee and the remaining committee members stood down, as required by our Constitution. Betty Haynes was unanimously elected Chair Person and she then asked for nominations from the floor for the various committee responsibilities and appealed for a committee member replacement for Tony. There were no volunteers and the following members were elected (again!) -

Chair: Betty Haynes - proposed: Peter Fynn - seconded: Renie Pryke
Treasurer: Ralph Chapman - proposed: Tony Garner - seconded: Peter Fynn
Secretary: Janet Bircham - proposed: Joan Fynn - seconded: Weed
Membership Secretary : Weed - proposed: Janet Bircham - seconded: Betty Haynes
Committee Member: Joan Fynn - proposed: Ralph Chapman - seconded Edward Green
Committee Member: Peter Fynn - proposed: Ralph Chapman - seconded Edward Green

The position of Vice-Chair was not filled.

9.  Open Forum.

Charity Walk - 21 May 2006.  Betty Haynes took part in the annual sponsored walk for local charities organised by John Baron, M.P. Betty's walk raised £131.00!! She has been invited to a presentation and will receive a cheque on behalf of the reserve. Well done!

Vandalism.  The theft of the kestrel box was one more instance of continuing vandalism in the reserve. Benches have been destroyed and defaced with graffiti, nest boxes torn down, and our notice board destroyed. The presence of a community policeman has not prevented further damage so the Parish Council has obtained a police contact in Billericay. He is Chris Higginson and can be contacted on 07969 365610. We now have regular police visits to the reserve on a daily basis. You may also call Billericay Police Station directly - 01277-636655.

Work Parties. 3rd Wednesday in month 1pm - 3pm.  We meet at the Eastfield Road entrance. Look for our notices in the chemist's shop window, on our board at the Eastfield Road entrance, in the Noak Bridge Connection and on-line (http://www.nbnrs.org.uk). We need more helpers! Our thanks to all the new workers who have joined us this summer.

Thanks again to Tony Youé  for his support and hard work during the past four years. Not to mention countless car rides to meetings, etc.

Betty closed the meeting at 8.30pm and wine and cheese were served.


Thank you to all who have renewed their memberships for 2006/7 (we have 44 household memberships so far) and thanks too for the donations received. For those who haven't yet renewed but intend to, there is a membership form attached to this newsletter. We are hoping to attract new members with a leafleting campaign in Noak Bridge and Steeple View but if you know anyone who may be interested in joining the Society and you would like some membership forms or written information about the Society, please contact Weed, Membership Secretary at 44 Lower Street, telephone no. 01268 289577 or Janet Bircham, Secretary at 42 Crouch Street.
(More info on the Society's web page.)

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

The Society's web site is regularly updated and has information on the monthly Work Parties and upcoming events. A record of sightings of birds and animals seen in the reserve can be found on the Wildlife page. It has been pointed out that some of the pictures of the ponds give a misleading impression as they were taken before the decline in the water levels over the last two years. However, we are hoping that there will be sufficient rain to at least partially refill the ponds by next Spring. Don't forget, there is also a Nature Reserve Society discussion section on the Forum page at noakbridge.net to which everyone is welcome to contribute.

   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! We were pleased to welcome several new helpers this summer. Thank you all very much.

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, 20 September 2006.

   Items for the Newsletter

What's happening? Something to say? Call Janet at 01268 52634 if you would like to contribute to the Newsletter.

   Mark Williams, Ranger, Basildon Countryside Services


Queen bumble bees usually emerge from hibernation during the spring, exactly when depends very much on how favourable the weather is. In exceptionally mild winter conditions they can emerge as early as February.

The first task she undertakes is to feed herself up and restore body fats used up during the long winter months of hibernation. After she has eaten her fill the next task will be to find a suitable site to build a nest and begin a new colony.

The new colony will need to be well insulated and in a warm situation. For most species of bumble bee this will be a hole within the ground; an abandoned mouse or vole hole being ideal. Other species of bumble bees either nest on the surface by combing dead grasses and mosses to form a chamber or use ready made disused birds nests.

Once the nest is made she will build a honey pot out of wax and fill it with nectar. This will provide a food source to keep her alive while for the next several weeks she undertakes collecting pollen to build a pollen lump for laying her first batch of eggs upon.

She will frequently incubate the eggs until the first larvae hatch. Once hatched the larvae feed upon the pollen lump. After their feeding each will build for themselves a cocoon that latter they will emerge from as the first generation of workers.

From then onwards the workers will undertake all construction work within the colony and the foraging of food while the queen spends the rest of her life laying eggs. The hatched larva will eventualy form the colony's workers throughout Summer.

Towards the end of summer the queen will start producing males and new queens. These offspring once adults will fly from the nest to mate with bees from other colonies. With the onset of winter the remaining Queen and workers die and further into the season the males perish too. The remaining fertilised new queens set about excavating a hibernation chamber to overwinter in and then next year start the whole process again.


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.

   Autumn Ramble. Sunday, 29 October 2006. 10 am - 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. Betty Haynes participated once again and she raised £131 for local charities. A presentation was arranged for all the walkers in June and The Noak Bridge Nature Reserve received a donation of £100.


Many myths abound concerning birds, and similar beliefs are attributed to different species. Weather prediction was determined by watching birds and good or ill fortune would be bestowed on houses or land, determined by the bird species and its specific activity.

SWALLOW  Whilst this may be seen as the herald of summer, if it was flying low rain would be imminent. Good luck would visit the house with a nest built on its roof, and it would also give protection against fire, lightning and storms, but if the nest was abandoned misfortune would follow.
In Germany it was believed that if a woman trod on the eggs she would become barren, whilst the French thought that a Swallow on a shoulder meant death was present. There was a universal belief by farmers that milk yields would be low if they killed a Swallow and a poor harvest if a nest were destroyed. The Swallow is credited with having brought fire to mankind, as was the Wren, but both suffered as a result, hence the red feathers.

SPARROW  Rain was on the way if a group of Sparrows were heard chirping. Some thought that to kill or to allow one to enter the house would be unlucky, but for many it was seen to symbolise the gods of the household and should, therefore, be cherished.Why does the Sparrow hop? One belief is that at Christ's Crucifixion it called out "He is alive! He is alive!" alerting the soldiers, who prolonged His torture. Another reason given was that its legs were bound together because of the lack of sympathy shown by its song. Its punishment was to hop for evermore.

CROW  As might be expected with a black bird, it was associated with death, misfortune and witchcraft. It was also believed to have the gift of prophecy. There would be fine weather ahead if it was seen flying towards the sun, but if it was near or walking around water a storm would be imminent. An old rhyme predicted -

"One will bring sorrow
Two will bring mirth
Three a wedding
Four a birth"

Another old country saying is "If you see one Rook it's a Crow, if you see two Crows it's a Rook."

MAGPIE  Another harbinger of ill luck. If it abandons nesting areas, death will be present with hard times ahead. To avoid disaster it was necessary to take off your hat to a passing Magpie, which would protect against evil forces. If it perches on a house roof, the house will never fall down. It was the only bird not to enter the Ark, preferring to remain outside. As with the Crow an old rhyme predicts future events determined by how many were seen -

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for Silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told

In Germany they had different predictions, one was unlucky, two brought merriment or marriage, three a successful journey, four good news, five, expect visitors. The Chinese traditionally see the Magpie as a bird of good fortune, but kill one and bad luck will come.

- Researched by Joan Fynn


Sunday, 17 September 2006
Booking essential*
      Kite Festival       The Wick Country Park
1pm - 4pm

Thursday, 21 September
Booking essential*
      Night Walk
(slide show if wet)
      Wat Tyler Country Park
7.30pm - 9.30pm

Sunday, 1 October
Crafts, activities
      Open Day       Norsey Wood Reserve
12noon - 4pm

Sunday, 22 October       Autumn Ramble       Nevendon Bushes Reserve
10am - 12noon

Sunday, 29 October       Autumn Ramble       Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
10am - 12noon

Sunday 29 October
Booking essential*
      Nightmare at Wat Tyler
£3.00 per person
      Wat Tyler Country Park
6.30pm - 9.30pm

Sunday, 5 November
Booking essential*
      Fungus Foray       Mill Meadows, Billericay

Sunday, 12 November
Booking essential*
      Fungus Foray       Norsey Wood, Billericay

Sunday, 19 November
Wheel chair access
      Motorboat Museum Tour       Watt Tyler Country Park
12noon - 2pm

Sunday, 3 December
Create a decoration!
      Tree dressing
£1.50 per person
      Norsey Wood
12.30 onwards
Tree Dressing 2.30pm

Sunday, 3 December       Yuletide Ramble
Mulled wine & minced pies
      Nevendon Nature Reserve
10am - 12noon

Sunday, 10 December       Yuletide Ramble
Mulled wine & minced pies
      Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
10am - 12noon

Sunday, 17 December
Boooking Essential*
      Santa's Grotto
£4.00 per child
      Watt Tyler Country Park
11am - 3pm

Please call  01268-550088  to book marked events

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email contact - info@nbnrs.org.uk
last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0609/index.html