Tag Archives: Tameside

October and November on the reserve

27 Nov

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Thanks to all the Tameside volunteers that have been on the reserve working hard.  Lots of jobs have been done on site the main one being the clearing of tern island in preparation for the nesting birds next year.  This is always a hard but a rewarding task, this year we cleared; re gravelled and added a few chick shelters for the first time.  We’ve had a few more trees to plant and have been continuing our hedgerow work, both the new wood and the hedgerows are taking shape.

It was our AGM last month and Ian our records person gave us a useful summery of all things Tameside so I have included this below for all who are interested.  NOVEMBER 008

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Tameside Nature Reserve – sightings 2015
Introduction
A relatively quiet year as the reserve settles down after a number of years where the extent & periods of flooding have been well above normal. The following list is not exhaustive & reflects the observations of volunteers & visitors to the site during the year.
Birds
The resident duck species, gadwall, tufted duck & mallard all bred well & were joined in the winter by teal, goosanders & occasional shelduck. Coot bred well taking up residence in the stream, a couple of the ponds & the lake to the possible detriment of moorhen which do not appear to have had a good year. Great crested grebe were present on & off throughout the year, but although showed signs of wanting to breed, rather frustratingly, they once again failed. The level of the lake during the summer has been fairly stable so successful breeding would seem to have been possible. Additional small rafts might be the answer. Little grebes also made the odd appearance.
Black headed gulls bred on the tern island, but in much reduced numbers, about 40 pairs, down from 80. This is possibly due to disturbance by a dog swimming to the big island in spring, disturbing birds that appeared to be preparing for breeding. Disappointingly, no common terns bred this year, although they were seen feeding on the lake & river from time to time.The oystercatchers successfully raised one chick. A small flock of lapwing wintered as usually. Three resident birds stayed throughout the year, but no evidence of breeding.
Snipe were present in the winter. Kingfishers were regular seen with evidence of breeding just off the reserve. Little egret & heron were seen on & off throughout the year & belatedly a great white egret ( new species for reserve)
Warbler numbers were strong. Willow, reed, sedge,grasshopper warblers,,chiffcaff,blackcap,whitethroat & cettis warbler ( a new species for the reseve)
Raptors were represented by regular sparrow hawk & buzzard, infrequent kestrel & occasional hobby. A tawny owl was spotted in the owl box in the wooded area by the canal, but did not stay ( probably disturbed) It was heard from to time hooting so probably bred close by. Only one barn owl sighting, although they have been seen close by so we are hopeful they will return on regular basis shortly.
Both great spotted & green woodpeckers were recorded along with treecreeper.
Another good spot were six spotted flycatchers close to the aqueduct in late summer. It is possible they nested on site. A wheatear made a brief appearance on the bare earth section on passage in May.
Fieldfare, mistle thrush & redwings visited during the winter. Long tailed tits bred well ( over 30 birds seen in one flock) as did blue & great tits.

Butterflies, moths & dragonflies.
The reserve took part in the ‘Big Butterfly Watch’ during the summer. It was a reasonable year with the following species recorded;- Orange tip, large,small & green veined white, meadow brown, gatekeeper, ringlet, small copper, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, small & large skipper, common blue(good numbers),peacock, speckled wood, brimstone & clouded yellow. Caterpillars were seen for small tortoiseshell & brimstone(feeding on recently planted alder buckthorn by feeding station)
Angle shade, pink barred & elephant hawk moths were seen along with several dragonfly species including migrant hawker, ruddy darter,banded demoiselle & common blue damsel fly. Both of these species types are under recorded. Suggest we do surveys next year.

Mammals
A very successful mammal survey revealed three species, wood(field) mouse, common shrew & short tailed vole. Other mammals included weasel, mole, red fox ,muntjac deer & brown rat. The variety & number of mammals caught during the survey is positive in that we should see kestrel & barn owl return to hunt as it is likely mammal numbers were adversely affected by previous years flooding.
A bat walk organised by the Canal & Rivers trust along the canal towpath to the aqueduct revealed at least four confirmed species for the reserve ( daubentons, noctule, soprano pipestrelle & common pipestrelle). We await a full list from the ‘The Batman’ who took away recordings from the evening for analysis.
Reptiles, amphibians & fish
Common & marsh frogs recorded. No snake sightings, although likely to still be present. Difficult to know the numbers & variety of fish although shoals of small fish, probably fry were observed hiding under the dipping platform & in the link. There were good numbers of probably chubb close to the aqueduct & pike have been spotted in the lake & the stream. A heron was photographed catching a perch. Again, it would be useful if we could somehow undertake a fish survey.

Plants
The ‘new’ meadow on the upper east side of the reserve has done exceptionally well considering it is only it’s second year. Notable species were red campion, musk mallow, kidney vetch & vipers bugloss.
The areas adjacent to the stream continue to be wetter during the year than previously. As such damp loving plants continue to thrive ( meadowsweet, ragged robin, marsh valerian, bur-marigold, marigold, purple loosestrife,fleabane, forget-me –not, gypsywort & angelica). Water plantain, arrowhead, flowering rush & water mint present in the stream. Frogbit is doing well in the fringed water lily pond.
The meadow areas around the lake continue to thrive with knapweed, ribbed meliot, tufted vetch, cuckoo flower, cowslips & toadflax.
The second annual plant survey in May showed a small increase in the percentage number of plants included in the survey (cuckoo flower, ribbed plantain, red clover & selfheal) confirming that the quality of the meadow is improving.
The newly planted trees & shrubs continue to develop & some ( although not as many as expected ) have fruited well, particularly the guelder rose, dogwood & rowan. I’m optimistic of a good fruiting year next year. It was pleasing to observe brimstone caterpillars on one of the newly planted alder buckthorn as they were planted in part to encourage this species.

Although a relatively quiet year, there were still a number of highlights ( 2 new species , the mammal survey, the new meadow, the increased number of damp loving plants & breeding success of kingfisher & oystercatcher) aswell as the inevitable set backs ( great crested grebes failing to breed, the non return of the common terns & the lack of barn owl & kestrel).
The recent years of excessive flooding have impacted on the dynamics of the reserve so it has been difficult for the reserve to establish any level of consistency, with some winners & some losers. There is obviously little we can do to influence this.
In addition, some bird species that might have stayed on Tameside, may have been attracted to Middleton lakes as the RSPB reserve there settles down( e.g lapwing, common tern & wintering ducks) . This could well be a double edged sword though as in due course we are likely to see some overspill of their species to us. ( Avocets & cuckoo would be nice for starters!)

All in all we should be very pleased that all of our hard work is paying dividends. I’m sure 2016 will be a good year for us. Thanks everyone.

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7 Jul

I’ve not added to this page for a while this doesn’t mean that group hasn’t been active far from it we’ve been working as hard as ever over the last few months. The reserve looks good at the moment the work seems to be paying off. The wild flowers look even better than last year and that was good. We did a second May survey covering 4 key plants these we found these to have increased with the exception of self heal.

Other plants doing well include:    Marsh Marigold, Bog Bean, Brooklime, Ragged Robin, Yellow Flag Iris, Snakes Head Fritillary, White Clover, Cut Leaved Geranium, Buttercup, Yellow Rattle, Common Vetch, Yellow Archangel, Ground Ivy, Red Campion, Primrose, Bluebells, Wild Garlic. I give theses as an example there are many more.

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We‘ve also join forces with a project called WatersideCare This group like us works in the community with volunteers litter picking clearing waterways, invasive species and improving habitat. Members of the group have had training on water quality testing via this project; this could be a valuable tool as we are a wetland reserve. We now take samples each month in six positions, completing a record so we can easily see any changes in water quality.

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The Tame Valley Wetland Project is progressing well on Tameside with scheduled work approaching the final plans and planning consent is being put in place. What all this means for Tameside is we get an inlet from the river Tame in the form of a stream that loops around and back into the river. This creates an island that was originally in the river but slightly further down. The stream will be good for breading fish and increase the habitat on the Peelers Way side of the reserve. We also hope to get our sand martin bank possibly in this area, its still under discussion.

Jobs completed last month included hedgerow work, path mowing and pulling balsam. We also needed to repair our bridge after it was attacked but vandals. Up and coming jobs will include more hedgerow work  clearing and planting, mowing, willow reduction and taking care of the bird boxes cleaning and adding more to the reserve.

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Year Ends 2014

4 Jan

I can’t believe that yet one more year’s gone all the work days and project completed as well as a few laughs along the way.

The reserve’s been suffering with floods for the last two month the water levels raise quite quickly, luckily they go down fast but leave the site waterlogged.

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November work day was re-arranged because of high flooding, we still worked but over the other side of the reserve on higher ground. This side now has two gates one to access the reserve and one to access the new meadow. Both gates we installed on the November workday. Other jobs included trimming back hedgerow, litter was picked, hedgehog hibernation houses made and not forgetting a few bird boxes added.

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December we were able to get back on track with the flooding down we could safely get over to the island. A lot of the clearing work had already been done on the island this included a bit of willow control but time prevented us from finishing. We completed these jobs burning most scrub and willow on the island because we needed the island clear and it was far easier than trying to bring back over on the boat. As it was the last work day before Christmas it was mince pies mulled wine and fruit cake warming by the fire in our Santa hats, what more can a person want….

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This brings us to the next few months we have lots to do as normal.

January: clearing tern island and hazel coppicing.

February: planting preparation.

March: planting hedgerow and pond maintenance.

Thank You Tameside’rs

7 Oct

We’ve had a manic few months on Tameside I hear you say what’s new!! Many thanks to all the Tameside volunteers who came out for the regular work days and all the extra days we have held, not forgetting the members who come along to our meetings also an important part as we get to plan out work parties and the future plans for the reserve. So what have we been doing on site? With the improvements to the flood bank completed we have been carrying on with the re structuring of the bird feeding area, within this space we’ve re cut the grass so short in sections.

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Pathways have been cut along with a large percentage of the reserve. Hedgerow has also been worked on including clearing the excess bramble that was in danger of taking over our new in filled hedge.  We started the routine yearly clearing on our islands. We have three islands in total and one that lies below the water level the majority of the time. Tern Island is cleared every year and the other two we do on rotation. Tern Island is yet to be done but the larger of the other two has been cleared, overgrowth and some willow management has been done.

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Our yearly trip to Bradgate Park took place last weekend and I hope all the group enjoyed the deer despite it raining for most of the morning. Although it did brighten up after lunch so we walked off some of our lovely meal and puddings..

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This week its our AGM so we get to review the work we have done over the year and plan for the next year, its hard to believe we’ve been a group since 2006 the time has flown by. People have come and gone, babies have been born and people have moved away but we’re lucky to have a very strong group who work none stop with the best interests of Tameside’s wildlife always top of the agenda.

Pictures from June

9 Jul

Thanks to everyone who came along to our last two workdays in fact the Tameside’rs got so enthusiastic that we even had an extra day. After the heavy rain and the warm weather one could only describe Tameside as lush . The grass is high, the wild flowers have finally agreed its time to show willing, the ponds look great and wildlife is thriving.

The group have been in catch up mode with all the general maintenance jobs. These have included mowing pathways, that then grow ten inches as soon as you look away. Himalayan balsam pulling, an annual task as a measure to control its spread. Litter picking always bad at this time of year, and clearing the board walk as in some places you couldn’t even see the wood platform.

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The river Tame runs though Tameside LNR

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Michael, Peter and Lee making log piles. Good for all wildlife from insects, samll mammals and birds.

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Marion, Deneen (top) and Diane pulling balsam

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Deneen (top) Lee and Diane clearing pathways.

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Junes extra work day was to help get the pathways under control. In parts the tack was impassable or even invisible . Unfortunately we only have a limited time on site and we’re all volunteers so just very occasionally we need this extra time. We’ve made a start and will carry on with this next time.

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The new meadow area that was seeded in march is now doing extremely well for the first year, and is awash with wildflowers this can only improve.

The Environmental Agency has been on site for a few weeks so the main entrance has been out of bounds, I’m sure a few people have missed this as the only way to get on site is take a walk along the Coventry canal. The EA have been re modelling the entrance making a gentler slop and making the flood bank slightly higher in places. We hope that this will not inconvenience people to much longer but the work is necessary.

 

April and May

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The last two month have gone so fast and along with the months our task days and as normal our volunteers have been busy on the reserve. We’ve been working on the hedgerow always a controversial task as visitors just see us cutting it back, the cut back will improve the existing stock, and by infilling all the gaps, in a few years the hedgerow will be wide with more verity, supporting butterflies, insects, birds and mammals. All the dead wood that’s cut out of the hedge will be used in log piles for the benefit of the wildlife so nothing is wasted. Our pathways have had their first cut along with the reed bed that we’re hoping to control by cutting down as low as possible over the next year or so.

 

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We have an area on the reserve that we are going to create a wild flower meadow; this has now been first prepared then sown with a mix of seeds from a specialist nursery who work with native plants. If this is successful when we cut the meadow we will be able to spread the hay over other parts of the reserve in the hope of spreading the flowers, more plans for the future.

Tameside is included in the Tame Valley Wetland project and through funding from the Heritage Lottery and Tamworth Borough Council we are in line to get our phase two of the profiling done. In 2010 the first part was completed and has been a big success for the wildlife and the visitors. Phase two will see we hope profiling of the river on the Peelers Way side, recreating a small island. All this equates to exciting times for Tameside and the group in the not to distant future.

 

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The reserve is looking wonderful at the moment the spell of nice weather does help but the islands are full of birds including black headed gull chicks on tern island, the swans are nesting and the oyster catchers are here again this year. The wild flowers are about two or three weeks late this year because of the flooding but all are coming along nice now this hasn’t stopped the caterpillars and butterflies who are everywhere.

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March Work Day

23 Mar
Thanks to everyone who came out on the March work day, yet one more successful day with lots achieved. This month we find the flood water down and access to the site no problem, making the planed jobs possible. The projects for this month included the continued work on the hedgerow we started in December and clearing Swan Island of dead overgrowth readying for the nesting birds. The island got its name because a pair swans use it to nest and succeed in raising young every year. And lets not forget the littler picking always a task but it can be particularly bad after flood water with all manor of objects showing up.
The hedgerow and excess bramble removal always looks drastic but much of it is dead wood, this we recognise as also being valuable to nature so we tend to make wood piles for the birds and bugs.
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