Around the Reserve with the Chairman
Hello, welcome to your first Newsletter of 2016. The Reserve is now coming to life for us here in Essex after what has been quite a warm winter compared to other parts of the country.
With the rain we have had, the refurbished walkways have stayed in good puddle-free condition, with the exception of the path leading towards Dragonfly Loop which decided to flood all of a sudden, but that has now been resurfaced.
The unfortunate problem with the dogs from the neighbouring industrial estate that had been running free in the East Meadow has now been dealt with after our local PCSOs paid the dogs' owner a visit.
We have over this last couple of weeks received reports of youngsters riding a couple of motorised scooters and a small quadbike around Dragonfly Loop. Although they were not causing any damage their activity could be dangerous to walkers and their children and their dogs. It could also be harmful to the wildlife. My wife Lesley and I were walking our dog in the Reserve recently and came across three lads with a small quad bike. We had a chat with them and explained the problems and our concerns, and also that I would be reporting to our Ranger. As the newsletter went to print we were not aware of any further problems. The Committee and our Ranger will continue to monitor the situation.
On the Work Party with the Treasurer -
Small areas of the paths have had gravel added to avoid puddles forming due to heavy rain. Parts of the High Ridge have had silt removed from the centre in some places and the sides in other places to reduce the mud, and more is planned to be done in later work parties.
Work Parties - January to March 2016
At both the main entrance and at the pedestrian entrance, mud has been cleared from the concrete sections to improve access to the Reserve, and to improve drainage to reduce the chance of puddles forming.
There has been some trimming of branches of various sizes around the Reserve and plenty of litter has been picked up from all around the site, including a black bin bag of rubbish that had been thrown some distance into brambles!
A lot of work has been done around Puckles Pond. Leaves that fell during the autumn were removed from the ditch that had been cleared out by a contractor last year to act as an overflow to prevent the pond water flooding onto the nearby path. Bushes have been cut down between the pond and the bench to improve the view of the pond and its wildlife, and some damaged chicken wire has been replaced on the dipping platform.
A bench at Fox Pond that had been vandalised has been removed and will be repositioned at a different location in the Reserve. Some large blocks of concrete in the area of Thorny Wood that was cleared of bushes have been broken up ready to be removed when completed.
Regular visitors to the Reserve will have seen the beautiful kingfisher perched on a branch at Willow Pond.
Kingfisher (Albedo atthis)
Nearly all the world has kingfishers of some sort - fish-eaters, insect-eaters, eaters of reptiles and small mammals.
Few birds are shyer than the kingfisher, so that birdwatchers rarely have a close view of it. The most that many people see of this beautifully coloured bird is a brief glimpse as it flashes past them - a swift arrow of colour speeding along the river bank. In flight, short wings and tail and a brilliant blue-green back are clearly visible, with orange-chestnut cheeks and underparts, a white throat and neck-patch, red feet, and a long dagger-like bill.
The kingfisher spends all year in Britain and suffers severely in cold winters when its food supply is cut off. Rivers and lakes ice over and the bird cannot get at its usual diet of small fish and aquatic insects. At such times the kingfisher may move to coastal rock pools and creeks where it has a better chance of survival.
This bird deserves its name as they are the sovereign fishers of our native streams and pools, and of all the fresh waters throughout the vast regions they haunt. When hunting, the kingfisher usually dives from a perch in pursuit of small fish, tadpoles, molluscs and insects.
They live near their work in a hole in a bank or in the decaying root of a riverside tree. Both male and female dig the burrow in which the nest is placed. The nest is gradually littered with an accumulation of regurgitated fish bones. Both birds incubate the eggs. The young are hatched after about three weeks and spend nearly four weeks in the nest. At times the birds will nest farther afield, then with every fish or water insect that it can spare from its own meal it must fly to feed the six to eight youngsters. The young are fed with fish by both parents until they can fish for themselves.
The adults get very dirty while moving in and out of the tunnel and frequently clean themselves by plunging into the adjacent stream. The kingfisher is seldom preyed upon by other birds as its flesh has an unpleasant taste.
Our thanks go to Committee member Tina Steggles for putting this article together.
No copyrights were breached whilst researching this article
On Sunday, 24th April 2016 our Ranger will be hosting a Bird Walk
Meet at the main gate at 10am
Our AGM will be on Sunday 31st July 2016 at 3.30pm in the Village Hall
The next newsletter is due out in June