Work started on the new pond this week at Bramblefields nature reserve in Chesterton. This work has been funded through the Chesterton sidings Train station development.

The pond has been situated next to the original pond at the reserve which is already home to a healthy newt and dragonfly population. The new larger pond has been designed with these species in mind and it is hoped that they will quickly populate this pond too.

These changes are part of a wider vision for the reserve which takes its inspiration from the lost brownfield site that the new station was built on. Brownfield sites have become some of the most species rich habitats in the UK, particularly for invertebrates and amphibians. The varied topography, low nutrient soils and plenty of opportunities for basking are some of the features that make Brownfield sites so successful in supporting and sheltering species. Therefore to include some of these components in the changes to Bramblefields seemed logical and essential. It will be exciting to see how many new species will be attracted to the site as the project unfolds and develops.

 

 

 

 

It was great to have access at the weekend to the East Cambridge Lakes, sometimes known locally as The Tins or Romsey lakes.

The public are not normally allowed in to the lakes as it is strictly reserved for Anglers only. However a work party of volunteers were allowed in to carry out some targeted conservation work for the day. The aim was to begin clearing sections of scrub with the view to open up areas attractive to solitary bees and wasps. The conditions around the Lakes are particularly suited to these kind of invertebrates.

 

Floating Pennywort is an invasive aquatic plant which has become a highly problematic on our waterways. Originally from South America Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) seems very at home in UK waters, it’s rapid growth rate can quickly clog up rivers and destroy habitats. In recent years the river Cam has been badly hit, within 5 years the weed has spread at an alarming speed, from Grantchester all the way out to the Denver Sluice on the Great Ouse river.

For these reasons many people have been motivated to help with the removal of the weed in an attempt to curb it’s growth. Motivation was high when the LNR volunteers and representative from the Cam Valley forum gathered to clear the Pennywort from where it was gathering on the banks of Paradise Nature reserve. Motivation had to be high because the sub-zero temperatures would probably have deterred more fainthearted environmentalists. Great progress was made pulling the weed out of the water and also cutting back over hanging branches which the Pennywort plant uses to help anchor itself along the river. Important and valuable work which unfortunately will have to repeated come the Spring and Summer. A war is being waged!

 

 

The issue of muddy pathways at Paradise nature reserve has caused many a soggy pair of shoes. This week the matter was tackled by installing a slightly raised new path way. This new pathway spanned one of the worst muddy stretches in the reserve.

Hopefully it will also serve to reduce the sideways spreading of the original path which was compromising the chosen growing area of the Butterbur (Petasites). Records of this plant’s presence on the site date back to the sixteen hundreds and it’s continued presence is highly desired!

Problems began with the original route when people attempting to avoid the muddy areas ended up walking on the Butterbur, particularly damaging when only the flower spikes are showing.  The new path will hopefully end the need to ‘off road’ and the Butterbur can spread and prosper.

This pathway was made with the help of the Community Payback Team which was whole heartedly appreciated.

 

More marginal plants were being planted at Cherry Hinton hall pond by the Saturday volunteer group.

With all the major work finished at the pond it’s now possible to get in there and make the final important smaller touches.Such as; extra plants to really boost the vegetation at the bank sides, creating woodland pathways, laying woodchips and generally having a good tidy up. All of this is helping to restore and enhance this beautiful site.