Over the years many projects have been undertaken, some of which it is possible to complete in a morning and other much larger tasks which are ongoing over many months or even years.
As you walk around the reserve you will notice that the footpath improvement programme progressed since last summer.
The access via Woodlands Lane has been completed and although there is still more work to do, conditions are certainly much better during wet weather. Other areas have been highlighted for work this year and this upgrade will continue whilst there are Section 106 monies available. (Update Feb 2019)
The reserve has been awarded a sum of money from Section 106 funds to improve the footpaths and steps around the reserve. Section 106 money is an amount which developers pay to the local councils, this money can be allocated to projects which the Council feels will benefit the local community. This work is being undertaken by the Derby Parks Volunteer group. They are a small group of dedicated volunteers who work on two days a week in parks and nature reserve throughout Derby. They started to work on the path from the Bensley Close car park in April and have now completed a long section which includes several steps and they will continue this work from time to time as volunteers are available. Other plans include work at the Woodlands access point and installation of an information board near to the Bensley Close entrance.
One of the tasks which fills a great many of the volunteer hours in cutting and raking in the wildflower glades. We are unable to get large machinery onto the reserve, all grass cutting is done by hand, this is hard work but nothing compared to the effort required in raking.
In order to improve habitat for wildflowers all grass cutting need to be removed,if not it would enrich the soil. Wildflower species require poor quality soil.
All this hard work keeps you warm in the winter and provides a great workout, no gym needed and it ensures that the wildflowers already on the reserve are spreading and populating more areas. (Update Feb 2019)
When the ‘friends’ group started
working on the reserve in 2005 no maintenance or improvements
had been carried out for around 20 years and large areas had become covered
with self set seedlings, especially Alder, white Poplar and Hawthorne. Therefore,
one of the first tasks was to remove some of the saplings in order to give
some of the larger trees space to mature and to take out some of the non-native
species that had been planted when the landfill site had been capped.
Over the years open areas or glades have been created and although the site is still largely wooded there are some good open areas which provide wildlife with the right conditions to thrive. The glade maintenance and sapling removal programme are both on-going projects and ones which fill a great deal of our time.
Habitat creation is always a vital part of any Nature Reserve and we were fortunate in having The 103rd Derby (Chellaston) Scout group create two impressive Bug Hotels on our reserve. A group of Scouts, their leaders and parents came along one Saturday morning at the beginning of July to construct these wonderful new habitats. All the materials were donated and the boys made a great job of putting them to good use. We had no master plan other than to ensure that the structures were sturdy and solidly built and as you can see the outcome is two very individual dwellings. The insects and small mammals who we hope will take up residence, can choose between an 'Eco Lodge' type dwelling and an exclusive 'High Rise apartment block'.
Both structures already have residents and we are sure that over the coming months and years more and more inhabitants will move in. Thanks to everyone who took part or supplied materials including Redrow Homes, the Scout group and members of the Friends group.
During the autumn an inspection was carried out on the five small ponds on the reserve, and with the help of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust we were able to highlight several maintenance tasks which we hope will help the ponds retain water longer. Due to the fact that the site has a network of methane extraction pipes quite close to the surface we cannot deepen the ponds and therefore they dry out quickly during dry spells. Work has been carried out on two small ponds, which were close together, to link them into a larger pond with the hope that more water is retained. The other 3 ponds have been cleared of debris ready for the winter rain. We hope that the spring is not too dry this year and that tadpoles are able to reach maturity. (Update Feb 2019)
There are no natural ponds on the reserve but over the years five small ponds have been created in order to provide habitat for frogs, newts and pond dwelling insects. All these ponds are what are known as ‘Seasonal Ponds’ in that they tend to dry out during the summer months. It is hoped that in the future we can improve one of the ponds to retain water for the whole of the year.
You may have also seen the smart new noticeboard which has been installed adjacent to the Bensley Close car park, we are currently compiling an information sheet which will give information relating to species that can be found on the reserve. We will also be able to display our Green Flag Community awards here along with details of upcoming events/tasks. (Update Feb 2019)
We have been fortunate in obtaining funding to enable a series of boardwalks to be installed in areas of the reserve that become extremely muddy during wet weather.
Creating boardwalks is a skilled task and we have had to use other experienced groups to install these walkways.
Most of the planned boardwalks are now complete and continuing improvements to the network of footpaths is an on going project.