Electro fishing

As part of the City Council’s Chalk stream initiative, https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/chalk-streams

a fish survey was carried out last Thursday at Vicar’s Brook, which is the stream which runs down the side of Coe Fen nature reserve. Electro fishing is the name of the technique used, it’s basically the process of putting an electric current through the water which temporarily and painlessly stuns the fish thereby making it far easier to find them and record them. This was in advance of the stream improvements planned for the brook this year.

10 species were recorded, including Brown Trout, adults and a youngster (parr) from this year. This is very encouraging to the project as we now know they are successfully breeding in this stretch. Any improvements will only increase their numbers and increase their food supply.

Other species recorded were Pike, Dace, Roach, Chubb, Gudgeon, Bullhead, Minnow, 3 Spined Stickleback, and Stone Loach, all mostly youngsters which again helps to guide what improvements would work best in what is essentially a fish nursery. Take a look at some of these gorgeous young things! TWild brown trout parr


Brown Trout                                       Bullhead fish

Photos by Mario Shimbov.

male hairy footed flower bee

Tawny Mining bee      So much activity happening on the reserves despite the cold and wind! Swifts and swallows finally beginning to return and many Solitary bees out foraging. This male Hairy footed flower bee and the Tawny mining bees were all spotted at Bramblefields nature reserve recently.  Tawny mining bee

It’s worth trying to get to know our many, varied and most beautiful solitary bees. Just as important in the role of pollinators as more well known bees. Also, as most do not store collected pollen in “leg baskets” but in a more loose and messy way in a pollen brush under their abdomens, the pollen collected by them is made more available to the receptive female parts of a flower. If the landing bee hits the right spot!

Lots of bird song to be enjoyed at the moment too, dawn and dusk especially. Check out this great blog post recorded at Coldhams Common reserve:





People working in a stream

The City Council’s initiative to enhance our chalk streams was put into practice this week as 20 tonnes of gravel was added to Cherry Hinton Brook. Added with care and consideration by a group of local volunteers, the aim being to funnel and guide the water as it travels downstream to increase flow and oxygen while also creating areas of slack water and deeper pools. This diversity in conditions improves the overall health and species count in the stream. Plus it’s lots of fun for the humans to make! If you want to check out these changes, the section worked on is just behind Cherry Hinton Hall Park, alongside the allotments.


Sliding gravel into the stream          People working in a stream.                   Adding in logs to stream


river path

With all the extra human traffic on the reserves we are experiencing a new phenomenon, affectionately becoming known as ‘path creep’. Paths that used to be perhaps a metre or two wide are now four or more. If you added up all this lost ground on  the reserves you could probably form a new one! In the last week efforts have begun to slowly reclaim some of this extra path way back. At Paradise nature reserve the sides of the paths have been rotovated to stimulate new growth and wood chip has been laid to try and encourage a slightly narrower route.


Logan’s Meadow is equally showing signs of extra wear and tear, particularly in the reed bed which is now accessible from all sides. There is concern that the Water voles may have moved out due to this increased disturbance. Some survey days are planned in May to see if this is the case. Fingers crossed it’s not. Our reserves have served us all very well during lock down, but now is the time to give them a bit of TLC and consideration.

reed bed      trampled reed bed

Swift flying

Continuing with the theme of providing nesting opportunities, there is still time to prep for the arrival of Swifts.

Due to start appearing in late April, early May you could have a beautiful nesting box ready and waiting for them.

Sounds tantalizing and inspiring indeed! Everything you need to know can be found at http://actionforswifts.blogspot.com/

They are a local organization which can give you all the advice and support needed to get you started.