In the spring of 2022, we set up a new volunteer group– the Stanwick Lakes Wildlife Volunteer Team (WVT).
The team meet up on the last Friday morning of the month to undertake tasks that help us to conserve the nature reserve at Stanwick Lakes, including monitoring and surveying the fauna and flora of the site. As well as taking practical action, they enjoy learning new skills and meeting like-minded people. Here is what they got up to in 2022!
In MARCH the team helped to plant over 2000 spring bulbs “in the green” in the woodlands on the nature reserve. The bulbs, which include wild garlic, bluebell, and wood anemone bulbs will not only add colour but also provide a food source for pollinators such as bumblebees, butterflies and moths and diversify the woodlands.
In the early summer of 2021, a group of volunteers assessed the habitats on the site for its suitability for Water Voles and proved that Stanwick Lakes has an abundance of perfect habitats. These included fruit and nut trees, riverbanks for burrowing in and plentiful riverside vegetation…but as far as we know, we don’t have any water voles living on site. So in APRIL we set up some water vole latrine rafts, encouraging any passing water voles to jump on the rafts, tuck in to the apples and blackberries provided and then leave a poo behind, giving us evidence of their visit! We had no success unfortunately but plan to put the rafts out again in 2023.
The WVT joined Ian and Alison Wrisdale in MAY for a baby bird walk. The Wrisdale family set up over 40 nest boxes on the site as it became a nature reserve over 16 years ago and are trained and licensed to check the nest boxes and ring the birds within them. The monitoring of birds such as great tits and blue tits, kestrels and stock doves, not only informs us in managing the site, but also provides vital data to national and international surveys through the British Trust for Ornithology.
Turns out pond dipping is not just for kids! In JUNE the team had a great time using nets to dip in one of the many ponds that make up the wetland and found, and identified, lots of pond invertebrates.
In July we took part in the Big Butterfly Count. Butterfly conservation describes its Big Butterfly Count as “a UK-wide survey aimed at helping to assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies”. We walked together to practice our butterfly identification, then each of us found a spot to count the butterflies and day flying moths we saw and recorded our sightings.
After break for the summer, in SEPTEMBER we litter picked the nature reserve – and important job as litter such as cans and plastic bottle are a real threat to small mammals. We run several litter picks throughout the year, but the WVT are particularly good at getting to parts of the site that other people don’t reach! They picked 8 bags of litter and 3 of recycling from woodlands, lake margins and under hedges.
In OCTOBER we took part in the Mammal Society’s National Harvest Mouse Survey. The Junior Ranger team took part in this last winter, finding one nest on the site (the first recording of harvest mice on the site since 2014). The WVT searched in a different part of the site and managed to find 4 nests in one area! This is great news, proving that we have this elusive mouse on the reserve. The harvest mouse is on the Red List for Britain’s Mammals and is classified as Near Threatened in Britain which means that they are at risk of becoming threatened with extinction in the near future.
We finished the year off in NOVEMBER with a mammal survey. In small groups we went in search of mammal footprints, tracks and droppings, but we also practiced setting up footprint tunnels, ready for a planned Hedgehog survey in the spring of 2023.
Our Wildlife Volunteer Team is currently full but if you would like to go on the waiting list, please email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.