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Latest Newsletter of the Friends of Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve

January 2015

Newsletter of the Friends of Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve

Dear Friends

Happy New Year!

After a seasonably cold snap with some lovely winter landscapes to end 2014 we had a mild spell to herald in the New Year but at the time of writing, frost and low winter sun have returned. However, spring is not far away and we can look forward to springtime greenery in the reserve and the appearance of the first snowdrops and other spring flowers.

We start off the outdoor events with the Dawn Chorus Walk which really wakes us up and makes the early start well worthwhile.

Mark has organized the next round of speakers and we very much look forward to topics as diverse as learning more about whales and dolphins, the white-clawed crayfish and the harlequin ladybirds.

For many years, in fact from the setting up of the Friends’ Group, Don Hamblett has provided us with his observations of the wildlife and flora in the reserve, in the form of his ‘Nature Notes from the Reserve’, which we have very much enjoyed. Don is now unable to walk much in the reserve so we would welcome someone to take on that role. The newsletter comes out in September, January and April, so if you walk fairly regularly in the reserve and surrounding countryside you may like to send me your observations – just three times a year – please let me know. Meanwhile I would like to thank Don also for all the monitoring of species which he has carried out.

We very much appreciate the legacy which Jim Burgess left to the nature reserve and several of you suggested that we use it to place a seat in the reserve. This may be at Ravens Rock, which was one of Jim’s favourite places. We have asked Andy O’Neill, who carved the tree in the reserve, if he could cave a badger on the seat and he has offered to do that without charge as it will be in memory of Jim.

Mollie Ward

Dates for your Diary

On Saturday, 11 April there will be a Dawn Chorus Walk, starting at the main gate of the reserve at 5.30 am. Please stay as quiet as possible along the lane from the main road. Do wrap up warmly as it can be a bit nippy at that time in the morning. It’s really worth it though! You may like to warm up by having breakfast at the Wick Café after the walk.

If you would like to come, please let me know (on 0117 9373687) so that I can let the café know how many to expect. The walk is free to members and £2 for visitors (not including breakfast!)

On Tuesday, 24 February, at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room we welcome Bernard Purrier of Whale and Dolphin Conservation to tell us everything we have always wanted to know about whales and dolphins but couldn’t be bothered to google!

£2 for visitors. Free to members.

On Tuesday, 24 March, at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room, Jen Nightingale of the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation will be telling us about Bristol Zoo’s quest to save the white-clawed crayfish.

£2 for visitors. Free to members.

On Tuesday, 28 April at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room, we welcome Richard Comont of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust to talk, not about bees but ‘ The Harlequin Ladybird: Unravelling the story of an alien invader’

Free for members and £2 for visitors.

We shall have the first Bat Walk of the summer on Friday, 1 May, meeting at the main gate at 7.10 pm. Bat detectors will be provided. Please dress to be comfortable and wrap up warmly. Please bring a small torch. £2 for visitors. Free to members and children.

Bat Update

Since the last newsletter, but before the bats entered hibernation, we checked the boxes again in the parkland area of the reserve.  This time we found a male Leisler's, a species which is comparatively uncommon in Britain, but not as rare as Bechstein's bats.  However, in Ireland there is a large population of Leisler's.  Although not a new species for Wick- we have found them in boxes in the reserve on previous occasions - it is encouraging that they have been present regularly in recent years.


Leisler's are of medium size and are related to the larger Noctule.  They usually emerge from their roosts soon after sunset to forage for small to medium sized prey, including flies, moths, beetles and caddis flies.  Their wings are long and narrow and often they fly at tree top level, with shallow dives.


In the summer the females gather together to form maternity roosts, where they give birth to their young about the middle of June.  From the end of August until mid autumn the males are seeking females and during this time they stay within a range of about 300m of their roost, flying around slowly and every second or so calling to attract a mate.  After a few minutes they return to their roost and continue calling.  If no female arrives, they repeat the procedure until they have gathered a harem of up to 9 females.  These calls are very different from echolocation and are audible to anyone nearby. 

At this time of year bats will be in hibernation, but it will be interesting to see whether we detect any Leisler's at our first bat walk in May.

  Sonia Reali"

Membership Notes

Thank you for renewing your membership. If you have forgotten to do so please send in your form or just drop in the money with a note so that we can keep you on the mailing list. Thank you for your continued support.

Autumn 2014

Newsletter of the Friends of Wick Golden Valley Local Nature Reserve

Dear Friends

What a lovely spring and summer we had! At the time of writing however, the weather has become much cooler and wetter and there is a definite autumnal nip in the air!

The Bug Hunt took place on a perfect day for picnicking and spotting butterflies. The children - and adults - had a lovely time and found Marbled Whites, Ringlets. Meadow Browns and Six Spot Burnet moths as well as a variety of grasshoppers, crickets and beetles etc. The wild flowers looked lovely too with plenty of scabious, marjoram, knapweed and woolly headed thistles. Earlier in the summer there was a good display of early purple orchids on the plateau above the bins. We couldn’t organize a peregrine watch this year as the peregrines decided to nest in a secret location! However, they have been seen around the quarry with two fledglings.

It was with deep regret that I told the committee of the sudden and sad death of Jim Burgess the day before our meeting in July. We shall miss him very much as a wise and knowledgeable founder member of the Friends Group and as the group’s librarian, a committed environmentalist, artist and friend. He was passionate about the preservation of wildlife and was a member of most of the wildlife organizations. Jim was enthusiastic about the nature reserve being conserved as a haven for a wide variety of flora and fauna. We very much valued his support and we mourn a loyal friend. There will be a Memorial Service in Wick Church, on Saturday, 13 September at 11.30 am, to celebrate Jim’s life.

Thanks are due to the Wick Guides, who were a very efficient working party when they cut back the snowberry bushes along the path above the summerhouse in June. Thanks are also due to those of you who pick up rubbish in the reserve. Litter has been particularly bad this year, especially during the fine weather.

In August, the committee had a most interesting visit to the quarry with Roland and his wife to see at close hand both quarry lakes and wooded surrounds and to get a better picture of Roland’s vision for the future. Roland has kindly offered to take parties of members on similar visits and we shall arrange this at one of our meetings. I am sure you will be interested in Roland’s article on his plans for conserving local plants and in Sonia’s article on the bat population of the reserve.

Mollie Ward

Growing plants for the Quarry

One of the aims of the conservation project at Wick Quarry is to establish a wide variety of plant species that would have previously been found locally but are now increasingly rare. As part of this we will be growing plants from locally collected seed and later planting them in the quarry.

Our starting point is the wonderfully diverse plant communities present in the nature reserve. We have collected Cowslip, Greater Knapweed and Field Scabious seed but unfortunately missed the Meadow Cranesbill. Next year I hope to focus on some of the less obvious species such as the Rock Roses and grasses.

I have my eye on the Whitebeam fruits and have hopefully protected some fruit of the Wild Service Tree from the birds (apologies for the unsightly netting). Apparently the Wild Service Tree is particularly challenging to grow and if anyone has had success with this tree I would be most interested.

Beyond species present in the nature reserve I am talking with Natural England and other bodies responsible for important local sites where we will be permitted to collect seed from threatened species. As these projects progress I will share the news of successes with you.

If any readers have rare wild plant species that could be appropriate to establish in the quarry, please let me know.

Roland de Hauke

Bat Report 2014
So far this year, the bat box checks have been disappointing in that they have not found any species new to our reserve, as well as returning low numbers of bats.  Perhaps in recent years we have been rather spoilt by finding one or two new species every year!
In May we had three soprano pipistrelles, although several of the boxes contained bat droppings, some of which were from larger bats, whilst earlier this month the check yielded a total of five bats.  Four were soprano pipistrelles, however the fifth was much more exciting - a Bechstein's, one of which we found two years ago.  This is one of the UK's rarest mammals and a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species.  It is found in Southern England and, possibly, parts of South Wales.
The Bechstein's is of medium size, is in the myotis group of bats and is mainly tree dwelling.  It is thought that it usually prefers ancient, deciduous woodland, therefore the destruction of much of this type of habitat is one reason for its decline.  It feeds on invertebrates, eating prey from most insect groups, including spiders, grasshoppers, moths and dung flies.  Because it is such a rare species, there is much about its lifestyle we have yet to learn.

Sonia Reali

Dates for your Diary

We shall have the last Bat Walk of the summer on Friday, 12 September, meeting at the main gate at 7.10 pm. Bat detectors will be provided. Please dress to be comfortable and wrap up warmly. Please bring a small torch. £2 for visitors. Free to members and children

On Tuesday, 14 October, at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room we welcome a speaker from ‘Secret World wildlife rescue’, who will be giving a talk entitled ‘Badgers in my Kitchen’. £2 for visitors. Free to members.

On Wednesday, 12 November, at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room, Terry Bond makes a welcome return with part two of the talk he gave in March on ‘The Wildlife of the Scilly Isles’. £2 for visitors. Free to members.

On Tuesday, 9 December at 7.30 pm in Wick Church Room, we will be holding our Christmas Event. This year we shall be showing the film, ‘The Wild Wood’. The film takes us on a lovely journey through a year in the life of the wood by the River Boyd and below Highfield. We will also have our usual festive buffet and mulled wine and as a special Christmas treat we have decided to make this a free event for members and £3 for visitors.

Membership Notes

Here we are again at membership renewal time! We have enclosed a renewal form and we look forward to your continued support. The fee remains at £5 per person. Thank you.


Our extensive collection of wildlife books was ably monitored by Jim and Celia Jones has offered to take on that role. The library cupboard is open at every talk and books may be borrowed from our extensive collection of books on all aspects of the environment





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