In the past month it has been good to see an integrated policy coming together involving youth organisations and volunteers, as the attached reports show.
LOCAL BEAVERS HELP LOCAL HEDGEHOGS
The 4th Brightlingsea Beaver Colony has been learning to be plastic Clever to help the environment looking at ways to cut down on single use plastics and their alternatives. Also they have been looking at various ways to recycle.
On Thursday 3rd October the manager and our local milkman from Milk and More visited the Beavers and gave a talk on ways that their company are changing to be more eco friendly. Each beaver was kindly given pint of fresh milk and orange juice to take home in glass bottles.
Also on that evening 2 of our Local councillors ,Town Mayor Graham Steady and Caroline McGregor along with Susie Jenkins, who is leading the Brightlingsea Nature Network, attended the beaver meeting to talk to the children about what the council are planning to do to help the environment. One idea put forward was to get the beavers to make Hedgehog archways out of clay to put through garden fences in their street to create a Hedgehog Highway and hopefully encourage hedgehogs back into local gardens. The beavers have also been invited to help plant some tree saplings in the area next year which will help them complete their Community Impact Badge
The Beaver Leaders are planning another trip to Scouting HQ at Gilwell Park next year for the Beavers and Mayor Graham Steady has kindly said that the council may be able to help with the cost of the coach on the day. This will be a big boost toward the trip as the cost of travel to and from this sort of venue has always been a sticking point for the Colony.
4th Brightlingsea Beavers is for boys and girls aged 6-8 years old. The Mayor commented “Children are our future so it is important that we encourage them at the earliest possible age to embrace and protect our natural environment I would like to thank all the volunteers involved with the various sections of the scout organisation for doing what they do and to say we are with you on the journey to make our town an even better place to live”
If you have a child that would like to join or you would like to help at Beavers yourself then Contact Trish Parker on 0780-8938563
Brightlingsea – A Special Place
Brightlingsea has as significant degree of legislative wildlife protection at national, European & international levels as anywhere in Britain due to its significance to the wildlife species that our estuarine coastal location supports. Brightlingsea is important for wildlife.
As a reflection of its importance a team of 17 specialist naturalists spearheaded by Professor David Bellamy & Roger Tabor for the British Naturalists’ Association for a weekend in July 2014 set out to show what am amazing diversity of habitats & species Brightlingsea hosts.
Brightlingsea has SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), SPA (Special Protection Area), SAC (Special Area of Conservation), Ramsar, MCZ (Marine Conservation Zone), National Nature Reserve (NNR) designations which make it of great significance. It also has designations of Coastal Protection Belt (CPB) of importance in protecting undeveloped coastline & buffering the important SSSI site to avoid its degradation & loss of value. Brightlingsea’s ancient woodlands on Lodge Farm land have LNR classification. Farmland on Lodge Farm & other parts of Brightlingsea have been managed for a significant period to optimise conditions for wildlife & to buffer the NNR/SSSI highly significant Brightlingsea Marsh (Grazing Marsh).
The Colne Estuary SSSI, SPA, SAC, Natura 2000 site, Ramsar site, MCZ & NNR include the Colne, Brightlingsea Creek, Flag Creek & Alresford Creek, & the waters, mudflats, saltmarshes & coastal grazing marsh are key significant habitats strongly protected by these designations. It is illegal to damage an SSSI, & local planning authorities have an obligation to maintain the character of the undeveloped coast, protecting & enhancing its distinctive landscapes.
Birds are of high importance as qualifying features for many of these designations, in especially the Colne Estuary (Mid Essex Phase 2) Special Protected Area (SPA), as this is a targeted avian designation.
The quality of this local environment is reflected by both the SPA and the additional protection afforded by the Colne Estuary (Mid Essex Phase 2) Ramsar Site and Colne Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
There are 19 bird species of conservation importance using this site, as well as important numbers of wildfowl assemblages across the winter season. A key species of importance are the populations of Brent Geese that populate Brightlingsea Creek, the Colne , the grazing marsh etc.
Brightlingsea Marsh is a significant part of the Colne Estuary National Nature Reserve, as some 97% of Essex’s historic grazing marsh have been lost since the Second World War. In the summer redshank & shoveler breed, & in winter wildfowl & other birds benefit from it. It is still appropriately grazed by cattle & sheep in the traditional way as it has been for centuries, which is critical for its special flora & fauna. It has a fabulous number of yellow meadow ant raised nests which sustain plants like lady’s bedstraw & frequented by green woodpeckers.
Our coastal saltmarsh is of key importance for wintering wildfowl & waders which overwinter here. Our saltmarsh is also a key defence against coastal flooding especially with surges as it diffuses the energy in the waves. Brightlingsea’s East Marsh & Cindry Island are of additional importance as heritage landscape holding a significant range of oyster pits that were constructed from the 17th century on, & were in most use in the 19th & early 20th centuries. However, that heritage has produced a saltmarsh structure of greater physical & wildlife significance than if it had not been structured. It has a great spread of Shrubby Seablite (nationally rare) & other upper marsh plants across the marsh landscape, & this & the pits provide food & shelter conditions from which wintering birds & other species benefit.
The creative re-use of dredge mud from Brightlingsea Creek obtained in its in its harbour works, has been put to good use to cause saltmarsh regeneration around eroded areas of Cindry island. This initiative by BHC & Exo Environmental has met with co-operation by the statutory bodies including Natural England & wildlife organisations such as the British Naturalists’ Association, RSPB etc, in no small part due to appropriate planning & monitoring of bird & benthic populations in the creek before, during & after (which are essential with the level of wildlife designations that incorporate the harbour & creek within the overall protected areas). Families certainly enjoy crabbing from the Town Jetty due to an outstanding population of Shore Crabs.
Within the designation for the MCZ is the realisation of the at risk position of the native oyster, which is such a part of Brightlingsea’s long rich heritage. Fortunately excellent work by Essex University Marine Biology section, the Kent & Essex IFCA (Inshore Fisheries Coinservation Authority [based in Brightlingsea]) & in particular Bram & Richard Hayward of Mersea Oysters are underway with a scheme which is transforming the probable future for this species in our waters.
Our saltmarsh & creeks are of outstanding importance as a nursery for sea fish such as the Sea Bass. From seine netting studies even the few feet of the shore in front of the Sailing Club supports a strong population of young & very protected Sea Bass (covered by KEIFCA by-laws). We have a rich invertebrate population in the benthic zone of our estuary (in the sediment & sub-surface layers which not only sustains itself but is a source of food for the waders & wildfowl.
The Lozenge Nature Area sitting between town & the Grazing Marsh SSSI, is not just a pocket of interest, but holds the most diverse range of grasshoppers & crickets for its area in Essex. It also holds a nationally very rare plant Dittander, which is also found in abundance in the Foldings below Moverons, ie the area behind the seawall (“lower path”, as the Colne is its national stronghold. The Foldings & seawall are especially important for rare species of bees, the same area below Moverons is one of the last coastal sites where Moss Carder Bee can be found in Essex. Its value is the vegetation of the foldings , seawall & the saltmarsh beyond in combination.
Brightlingsea is such an important place that it is critical to protect it both by proper planning governance & ongoing initiatives that protect our natural landscape with its dependant wildlife. Brightlingsea is currently appreciated by its inhabitants as a wonderful place to live, & in large part that reflects its natural landscape & coastal habitats which we all enjoy.
Who doesn’t stop & look when a marsh harrier flies overhead or shellduck & Brent geese feed along the shoreline.
Roger Tabor CBiol FRSB MPhil FCFBA FBNAhc FLS
President – The British Naturalists’ Association
Report from Brightlingsea Nature Network
- Great turnout of 55 residents at the Brightlingsea Nature Network’s first meeting. An interesting talk by Trudi from Wildlives about hedgehogs with special guest Maggoty.
49 volunteers signed up for work parties and other voluntary roles. Including an offer of a free talk by renowned Wivenhoe naturalist Chris Gibson.
- First date set for wildflower and native bluebell bulb planting alongside The Lozenge. Meeting 10am on Saturday 2nd November at The Lozenge.
- 420 hedgerow Saplings given to BNN by The Woodland trust arriving in early March
- First open day at Brightlingsea Museum Saturday 16th November 10am – 3pm in preparation for The Natural History of Brightlingsea exhibition.
There will be an article in Look magazine explaining the project. BNN and Brightlingsea Museum will be collecting residents memories of the countryside, shoreline and their gardens.
- Also, I was approached by a beach hut owner called Anne Simcox. She is concerned about the swans on the boating lake drinking water from the tap inlet. She had seen people washing paint brushes under the tap and the swans drinking the paint tainted water from the drain inlet in the lake. As Councillor Howard mentioned concern for the swans twice in previous council meetings I said I would mention it.
Ms Simcox asked if the council could put a sign on the tap about the swans using it as drinking water or directing people to a more appropriate tap/drain for potentially toxic materials?