This year, Stonebridge Wild River Reserve is 12 years old. Stonebridge Meadow makes up fifteen acres of the site and is owned jointly by Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and Marlborough Town Council. An amazing amount of work has been done to conserve and enhance the rich biodiverse qualities of the water meadow and to improve the habitat for both wild brown trout, and other native wildlife in the river. Access to the site has been improved and the area is now enjoyed by many visitors. Last night Anna Forbes – ARK’s Senior Project Officer & Volunteer Co-ordinator, gave a presentation in Marlborough Town Hall about what has been happening on the site this year.
“This year there has been a huge amount of community involvement,” Anna commented. “We have amazing volunteers of all ages.”
Volunteers have planted Snake’s Head Fritillary bulbs (flowering can be enjoyed during April), raked up grass and vegetation after strimming, planted twelve different native species of trees, restored community beach access points, carried out water vole and harvest mice surveys as well as keeping the site free from litter. Water voles are considered an endangered species and harvest mice are thought to be in decline so data collected is valuable and is passed to the national survey. Volunteers have also kept an eye on the conservation grazing cows who visit during the summer months. They have shared their time and skills – particularly in repairing vandalised notice boards. Sadly, there is still a battle against some anti-social behaviour on the reserve.
The first orchid was spotted this year and the new mowing regime of cutting paths through the meadow allowed visitors to enjoy the butterflies and flowers.
26 schools as well as youth organisations such as Cubs, Beavers, Brownies, Scouts, and Duke of Edinburgh’s award students have all enjoyed educational sessions run by ARK. Children and their teachers/leaders have been introduced to how what lives the meadow affects what’s in the river. 30 pairs of children’s waders have been purchased allowing children to get into the river even when the water is fairly high.
Community events have also been organised such as Bat Night. There are 4 different species of bat in the meadow and participants at Bat Night were able to use bat detectors to identify these different species.
“It’s all about providing memorable experiences with nature and sharing our knowledge,” explained Anna.
ARK and Marlborough Town Council are also grateful for the support of local businesses who either give their time with volunteer days or make donations for plants and materials.
To find out more about Stonebridge Wild River Reserve and/or to volunteer click here.