Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy Annual Report & AGM

First published in 2003 the Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy is intended to promote the development of nature conservation and encourage increased local community engagement with wildlife across Rushcliffe. For the last few years the Implementation Group (RNCSIG) has reported back to the nature conservation community as part of an annual Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Forum. However this year there will not be a forum as it`s place is being taken by a Woodland Training Day, which is a rather more specifically targeted than the normal forum.

So RNCSIG has decided to try something a little different in the way of reporting back for this year and also proposing the make up of the Steering Group by doing it online via Survey Monkey. The link to the Survey Monkey Online “AGM” is RNCSIG Online AGM

We welcome a response from anybody who is engaged in or interested in wildlife and nature conservation in Rushcliffe, so please circulate this to members of your Friends Group, Reserve Work Party etc – all are welcome to participate. We have set a deadline of Friday 1st Sept, 2017 for responses.

Cheers – Gordon Dyne ​   (Chair – RNCSIG  )     ​

Wildlife News in Rushcliffe

Wilwell – Ash Die Back has now been confirmed at Wilwell, as the site is mainly ash saplings this will not have a significant impact on the site. We have recorded Greater Bittercress for the first time and the return (after and absence of 20 years) of Black Horehound. Curiously we also have an aberrant Common Centuary (with some plants having flowers with 5 petals (normal) and 6 petaled flowers and Creeping Cinquefoil some with 5 petaled flowers, but others with an unusual 4 petaled flower. The Southern Marsh Orchid count was some 1,000 flower spikes.

Cotgrave Wood – Butterfly Conservation are running a weekly transect survey along the woodland ride and are regularly recording some great butterflies including Purple Emporer, White Letter Hairstreak and Purple Hairstreaks (all woodland specialists and locally rare) as well as the usual suspects, such as Ringlet, large Whites and Commas.

Lings Farm – A group of Bee Eater birds appear to be nesting at the Lings Farm, East Leake. These birds are rarely seen in the UK (although have been known to nest) and have caused quiet a bit of interest amongst the birding community. Lings Farm is part of an an active gravel extraction site and NWT have been working with CEMEX on the restoration plans for 20 years to ensure that the sort of habitat work we had to “back engineer” into Skylarks is created as part of the sites restoration.

Red Kites over Rushcliffe – there have been a number of sightings of Red Kites over Rushcliffe recently and hopefully thois means they are extending their range and will become a more common sight, as the Buzzards have. Keep your eyes pealed..

Bingham Linear Park – Jenny Craig reports the marbled white butterflies have returned to Bingham Linear Park – 7 seen at one time this is the most seen on one day!

Sharphill Wood – John Elwell reports that of the 7 nest boxes in the wood four were succesful with a total of 10 Blue Tits and 9 Great Tits fledging.

Rushcliffe Country Park – the count of Southern Marsh Orchids by the lake was a cracking 650 flower spikes, not bad considering it was unkown on the site a few years ago.

Reserve Work Parties

All our local nature reserves are set within a highly managed landscape and without controlled intervention most would eventually turn into woodland, squeezing out species rich grasslands and other rare habitats. Even small woodlands need some care and attention. In Rushcliffe we have an active nature conservation community that in effect contribute something like £200,000 worth of person time to the local conservation effort. But these groups can always use more help.

We are starting to move to the start of the Work Party season, and the following sites all have active volunteer work parties – NWT Reserves – Wilwell and Wilford Claypits and Friends Groups at Bingham Linear Park, Sharphill Wood, The Hook (Lady Bay), Gotham Nature Reserve, Radcliffe on Trent Conservation Volunteers,  Costock Nature Reserve, Cotgrave Country Park, Springdale Wood (East Bridgford) and the Green Line (West Bridgford).

All our local nature reserves are set within a highly managed landscape and without controlled intervention most would eventually turn into woodland, squeezing out species rich grasslands and other rare habitats. Even small woodlands need some care and attention. In Rushcliffe we have an active nature conservation community that in effect contribute something like £200,000 worth of person time to the local conservation effort. But these groups can always use more help.

Go to the Reserves tab at the top of the page and select Reserve Work Parties from drop down for further details.

Rushcliffe Country Park – Summer Wildlife Activities

The Country Park has a number of childrens wildlife related activities over the summer holidays.

Pond & Woodland Mini Beast Hunt – Wed 26th July & 9th Aug

Woodland & Grassland Mini Beast Hunt – Wed 2nd Aug and 23rd August

Den Building Wed 26th Jul, 2nd Aug, 9th Aug and 23rd Aug

Starting at Visitors Centre. All are 10 till 12 and cost £4.50. Book at Rangers Office, phone 0115 9215865 or countrypark@rushcliffe.gov.uk

Wilwell Nature Reserve Photo Album

A book concerning the history and present day wildlife of Wilwell Farm Cutting Nature Reserve, Ruddington’s Hidden Valley, has been given to the Ruddington Library. The book was compiled by Tim Williams one of the Nottinghamshire Wildife Trust volunteers and presented by Gordon Dyne the warden of the reserve. It will be available permanently for reference.  The book contains photographs illustrating the sites early days from 1895 as an important railway line connecting the industrial north of England to the metropolitan area and beyond to the proposed Victorian Channel tunnel which began construction in 1882. 

 Today its 20 acres has a wide variety of natural habitats where wild orchids thrive in two wild flower meadows. Many types of birds live in the hawthorn scrub and marsh areas support willow and rushes. Badgers have constructed several sets and squirrels chase among the tree tops. The Reserve is of interest at any time of the year. 

You can request to see a copy at the library or Ctrl & click on this link to see the online version of Tim`s Wilwell Photo Album

Cotgrave Forest Focal Area

The butterflies of Cotgrave Forest in Rushclife, Nottinghamshire include a number of woodland rarities such as Dark Green Fritillary. White Letter Hairstreak, Purple Hairstreak and Silver Washed Fritillary. (not to mention at least 21 other species of butterfly found in the area). Because of this the area around the Forest and Cotgrave has been identified under the Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy as one of our primary foci for concerted nature conservation development.

The objective is to develop a Landscape Scale conservation outlook linking the Forest with the wider countryside through improved wildlife corridors along hedgerows and green lanes and looking at creating woodland copses to create “stepping stones” across to adjacent woodland areas, but also looking at the possibilities for other wildlife friendly features such as ponds, wildflower meadows, road verges etc. The mantra of the vision for this area is Better, Bigger and More Connected.

To make this happen a Focal Area steering group is exploring contacts with Cotgrave Forest woodland plot owners, Woodlands for Sale, adjacent farmers, but also looking to reach out further to other woodland owners, the Highway Agency, Cotgrave Country Park, local golf courses, solar farms etc etc. The long term hope is to link up with the larger, more extensive Trent Valley Living Landscape Project being developed by Notts Wildlife Trust.

If you want to know more please contact gordon.dyne@gmail.com or you can go to www.rushcliffe.gov.uk/environmentandwaste/countryside/natureconservation/ for details of the Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy.

Wildlife on Your Doorstep Awards

These are run every year by Notts Wildlife Trust to recognise local efforts to promote wildlife and nature conservation around the county. This year the following people and groups were nominated for the Rushcliffe area Derek Rudge (Wilford Claypits), Stonepit Wood Group, South Notts Bird Ringing Group and the Grizzeled Skipper Project.

But the well deserved winners were

Jenny Craig – Jenny is one of the mainstays of the Friends of Bingham Linear Park for many years, both in the administration where she acts as the groups secretary, but also on the practical side where she leads the monthly site work party, leads a programme of site walks in the summer, is an active recorder of the sites butterfly populations (as well as providing analysis of the results). Jenny is the sort of person who is the cornerstone of good local practical conservation.

Gotham Sandbanks Nature Reserve Trust – Gotham Sandbanks is part of one of a handful of SSSI`s in Rushcliffe and includes a range of interesting and uncommon (for the area) wildflowers, such us harebell, greater knapweed, ladies bedstraw, common centuary, hoary plantain, common restharrow and over the last 10 years some 83 other types of flora, plus at least 11 species of grass. The site was gradually deteriorating with taller grasses and scrub encroaching on the remaining fragment of species rich grassland within the sandbank itself. But funding from Higher Level Stewardship was obtained to allow the Trust to put up stock proof fencing around an extended area of the species rich grassland. In the winters of 2013 and 2014 local volunteers put in a great effort brushcuting the open grassland in both years and clearing the area of encroaching scrub and clearing the fence lines, with the fencing going in during 2014. Whilst all this was going on there has been survey work carried out recording flora, birds, butterflies etc, as well as getting the local school involved in outdoor activities. This is all the start of a long process, but in the last 4 years far more has been achieved by the Nature Reserve Trust than was thought possible.