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Winter 2008            http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

This is the last newsletter of 2008 and it is also a sad one for me to write. I am writing to inform our members and friends of the death of Tony Youé. I met Tony and Jean, his wife, shortly after they moved to Noak Bridge and we started to talk about our nature reserve. They had already walked in the reserve with their four dogs and it was not long before Tony became a member of the Society and our vice-chairman until illness made it too difficult to come to our meetings and work parties. We will miss him and his chatter about his love for golf. It was a fairly long illness but eventually he seemed to find inner peace with his failing health. Janet, Weed and I attended his funeral on behalf of the committee and all of our members. It was a real pleasure to have known him. We are pleased to have Jean continuing to work the committee.

The monthly work party has been quite busy as you can see from all the photos of the group at work, making nest boxes for solitary bees in the short time we have available. Then we have to stop and install the nests in suitable places which is very time consuming. We are also coppicing near Puckles Pond. With five of us working we managed to clear a big patch and it will be interesting to see what grows there in the spring and summer. While we were working there the kingfisher let us know he was there too, but I was the only one to catch a glimpse of him. Never mind, we are pleased to know that he is still around.

Our Bat Walk in September was enjoyable although there was a distinct lack of bats! One or two were seen or heard but that was all. Our thanks to Becky for leading the walk and bringing bat detectors for everyone; even the children had one each. I think I would like to have the walk earlier in the year when there are more insects around. I will have a chat with Becky and let you all know if another walk can be arranged.

Willow Pond - that's the first pond on the right as you enter the reserve will be having a "makeover" soon to try to restore it to its former glory. We still have a lot of work to be done with help from Watt Tyler Park staff so if any of our members are free please come and join us at our monthly work parties on the third Wednesday of the month at 1pm -3pm. We always have a chat and laugh while working.

Don't forget our Yuletide Ramble on Sunday, 7 December 10am - 12 noon. Enjoy some mulled wine, mince pies and lemonade for the children in the Village Hall afterwards.

Finally, I wish you all


   Membership Secretary, Weed

Nearly all of last year's membership have now renewed for 2008-9 (81 of 91 households), and the Society is grateful for the many donations we have received. All that we are lacking is new members, so if you have neighbours who may be interested in joining please let them know about our web site, or ask them to phone 01268 289577. The newsletter is also available by email for those who prefer to receive it that way (contact info@nbnrs.org.uk).

   Web Site  http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

New pictures of animals and plants seen on the reserve are slowly being added to the site. The latest page is a hoverfly gallery with some excellent photos by our ranger, Mark Williams. There is also an interesting update to the frogs and lizards gallery which now includes two photos of the green frog spotted on one of our bird walks; (possibly an edible frog - opinions of the experts we showed the pictures to were divided). The wildlife page has records of sightings in the reserve going back to 2002. This year, we have made a special effort to focus on flowering plants, with over fifty species listed. If you have a good knowledge of wild flowers and are prepared to help out when we have problems with identification, then please let us know.

   Work Parties

Come and join us on the third Wednesday in each month. Please look for our notices on our notice board at the Eastfield Road entrance and in the Chemist's shop window. Next meeting, Wednesday, 14 January.


Yuletide Ramble

Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
Sunday, 7 December 2008, 10am - 12pm
Mulled wine and mince pies in the Village Hall after the walk.

   Next Committee Meeting - NEW DATE ! - Thursday, 12 February 2009


If you have been threatened or frightened by unleashed dogs in the reserve please write down the date, time and details of the occurence and call the dog warden at 01268-294280 or Betty Haynes at 01268-531365.


Mistletoe is probably best known to us as a Christmas decoration, beneath which we kiss our loved ones, or even strangers. The variety with which we are most familiar is the Northern European Viscum album, but it is just one of many hundreds found worldwide.

Mistletoe is a plant parasite, living high in the branches of the host tree, where it puts down roots under the bark to extract the water and nutrients required for its survival. Its seeds, which are spread mostly by birds, have a very sticky coating which allows the seeds to adhere to twigs or branches. The most popular host tree appears to be the apple, but lime, ash, hawthorn and other soft bark trees are also colonised.

There is a fair bit of folklore regarding the mistletoe and the best known legends are of Norse or Ancient Greek origins. The Druids too valued it as a peace symbol and in medicine, and they harvested it using a golden sickle, never letting the bough touch the ground. The Norse god Baldur was slain by an arrow of mistletoe so his grieving mother Frigga banished it to the top of the trees, but when her son was brought back to life she made it a symbol of love. In Greek myth, Aneas, after resisting the charms of Dido at Carthage, went in search of his father in the place of the dead. In order to protect him on his journey to and from Avernus, he was instructed by the Sibyl to pluck a golden bough (mistletoe) from a tree in the forest. He was directed to the bough by doves sent by his mother Venus. This bough did protect him and he found his father and returned safely.

The early Christian church banned mistletoe because of its association with the Druids. In Brittany it is known as Herbe de la Croix, because it was believed to be the wood of the Cross.

In days gone by women wishing to conceive, would tie a branch around their waist and wrists in the hope of increasing their fertility. During the Art Nouveau period many prestige French and German products such as furniture, vases, lampshades and furniture had mistletoe in their designs. More recently there was a competition between Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire to have mistletoe as their "County Flower"; Herefordshire won. In the US it is the State floral emblem of Oklahoma, but a different variety to ours, being Phoradendron flavescens.

The "kissing" custom is thought to be of Scandinavian origin, and a remnant of ancient fertility tradition but is now mainly established in most English speaking countries to where it was exported. Inconvenient customs such as removing a berry for each kiss, thus limiting the pleasure, are generally forgotten. European traditions vary, often taking place in the New Year. In the UK Midlands, mistletoe was left hanging up all year and replaced each Christmas, with the old being ceremoniously burned.

Whether or not you continue the custom of hanging mistletoe in your home this Christmas, I wish you all a very happy Festive Season.

Researched by Joan Fynn  -  Thank you!

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last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0811/index.html