BCV News Snippets

June 2021

2015: Fan Pit Cottage pond building.
2015: Fan Pit Cottage pond building.

Fan Pit Cottages
We had an email from Anne at Fan Pit Cottages, I’ve shortened it slightly but the full version has been sent to Rick.

Just wanted to update you about my little project to attract more wildlife to our area. You might remember laying a hedge and clearing some of the land adjacent to our house at Fan Pit cottages. We were fighting a battle with Japanese Knotweed, which we have almost won!

In 2015 you created a pond for us, which has been very successful, attracting newts and toads almost immediately. Unfortunately this year a pair of mallards have decided to trash it, ripping weed out and feeding on the occupants of the pond, so I have covered it. I would love to create more ponds! We have planted a variety of trees, wild cherry and Rowan, with a few others. Sadly some of our mature trees have been affected by ash die back, so I did quite a lot of research to find trees that were suited to our clay soil and resistant to diseases.

We have a lot of marsh orchids this year and I am slowly adding more wild plants that survive the conditions. We still have hares living near the big pond, at the bottom of the field and deer have been spotted there too. Please pass on our good wishes to Rick and all the volunteers who remember coming to us. I can’t thank you enough for all your help and wish you could come again. Kindest Regards, Anne.

The Old Normal?
Good news, from July BCV will be returning to it original format of having tasks every two weeks. In addition there will be no need to book ahead for a place on task, just turn up on the day. Tasks will be starting a 10:00am until further notice and the meeting point for each task will be noted on task calendar. Transportation is still an issue though, any one needing transport to the site should contact Tom well before the task date so that arrangements can be made. Although it’s a big step towards business as usual, we still need to take care and maintain appropriate safety measures in the interests of protecting our volunteers.

May 2021


Return of the Hipster
Good news, Rick has had his hip operation and is recovering. He dropped in on our Moses Gate reedbed task to say hello, after a chat he carried on to Rock Hall to see how things were going over there with our second team. More details of the task will appear in a post shortly. Hopefully Rick will be back out on task as his usual self soon.


Going Bananas
BCV has joined forces with Banana Enterprises to help restore the grounds of Moses Gate Country Park as part of their Rock Hall restoration project. We have a number of tasks planned throughout the year so keep an eye on the task calendar.

Get Well Soon
Best wishes to Lynn from everyone, we all hope you recover soon and can join us on task when you’re better.


April 2021

We have Returned
Well we’re back at work again with our recent tasks at Firwood, but there have been a few other activities that you might not know about.

Blackleach Hibernaculum
We’ve finally got a digger in to finish the ponds and the hibernaculum. See the Blackleach Hibernaculum post for more info.

John Franklin
The Wildlife trust has created a memorial woodland to John at Seven Acres. See the John Franklin post for words and pictures.

Hip Dude
Rick is scheduled for a second hip replacement (sorry no pictures) in a few weeks, but tasks will continue with guest task leaders taking up the whip. Best wishes to Rick from everyone.


Parting The Waters at Moses Gate

23rd May 2021 – Moses Gate Country Park, Reedbed Management

(Text and photos updated 31st May 2021)

Reedbeds are a disappearing habitat in the UK, there are only 900 sites around the country and only around 50 are greater than 20 hectares. Many reedbeds have been lost to agriculture either through drainage or pollution, and climate change is now posing a threat to coastal sites as sea levels rise. But all is not lost, there has been a resurgence of interest in reedbeds in recent years as sources of biofuel, water treatment, and as an alternative source of compost.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting


BCV has been planting reedbeds since its early years, and for us it’s about wildlife. Reedbeds can support over 700 species from invertebrates to bittern, many of these species can be found nowhere else and are dependent on reedbeds for their survival. While urban environments don’t make ideal sites for large reedbeds small ones can still be very valuable to birds such as reed warbler and reed bunting.

23rd May – Today’s task was to continue the work started last year when we diverted a stream to re-wet an area to the north of the park, see the Hidden in the Reeds post for more info. Before we can plant any reeds we first need to create an area of open water, this we did by clearing the willow and creating a dam. The line of the dam was marked out by stakes and tree trunks, other trunks were cut into logs and driven down into the mud to create a palisade, gaps were filled in with mud. Once the dam was built we dug a channel to redirect the pooled water to another area. It was a bit of a learning experience and we were making it up as we went along but it turned out to be pretty effective. Additional dams will be needed to further manage water levels, then we can start planting. More info on creating phragmites reedbeds can be found in the download below (click the link to view or button to download), photos of today’s work can be found below that. Today’s task was funded by Bolton Council’s Climate Change Fund.

30th May – A week later we returned to the reedbed. The dam was still working, although the overall water levels has dropped a bit it was still retaining water as planned. The next step was to establish the reedbed itself. After moving some of the previous week’s brash out of the way we tried 2 techniques of reedbed creation. The first was to dig up some of the reed’s rhizomes from another area and plant them in the soft mud behind the dam. This is usually the most successful way of creating a new reedbed. The second technique was to use cuttings which we gathered from an established reedbed and push them into the mud. Although a bit early in the year for trying this it was worth a try, if the weather stays warm it has a good chance of working. More info on reedbed creation can be found in the download further down the page.

So now we wait to see what happens. Well done to everyone involved. The day’s photos have been added to the gallery below.

In another area of Moses Gate another team was working with Banana Enterprises on a different project, more about this will appear in a separate post shortly.

Doffcocker’s Eleven

Doffcocker Lodge 18th & 25 April 2021 (updated 26th April)

Once Doffcocker was the biggest Local Nature Reserve in Bolton, it was the only game in town and we had things sewn up like a cheap pair of task pants. But things change, new LNR’s were muscling in, but it didn’t matter, Doffcocker would always be number one. And we had a plan, a Management Plan. Stick to the plan and you can’t go wrong, said the Boss, this is an opportunity for great things, he said. How could anything go wrong? So, we stuck to the plan and everything went just fine.

Cherry Laurel and her mob had been moving in on our action, she’d travelled from south-west Europe to take over Bluebells patch, but we soon cut her down to size and strung her out like a dead hedge. Just to make sure the message got around we cleaned up the rest of our turf. It was a massacre, there were tree limbs everywhere, those wise guys won’t be coming back any time soon. But remember, no body saw nothin’, we were too far away from each other to see, that’s the alibi.

Willow tit. Chick: Paul T, Adult: Colin M
Willow tit. Chick: Paul T, Adult: Colin M
Common Tern
Common Tern

Now, we wanted to keep some other of our ‘activities’ quiet too but someone was starting to sing, mostly birds. We had Common Tern and his crew flying in, see? They’d been away, now they’re back, and no one says ‘stool pigeon’ (cha-cha-cha-chaa). They wanted somewhere to roost until the heat was off, so we spruced a place up for them to lay low in, like Alcatraz but with fewer visitors. In return they’d slip us a little nest egg, ‘course if they don’t deliver we’ll be very unhappy.

All in all it was a sweet deal, and it was gonna get sweeter. After doing the job the gang holed up for a spell in a local speakeasy were they didn’t mind mud on your boots as long as you took it outside. First in was the guy they call The Barrister; some say beer’s beer, but if it ain’t cask then you’ve got some explainin’ to do.

So, what’s next? The Boss made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, we were getting the gang back together for another job, it was gonna be a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. Capiche?

25th April 2021
This new job was the same as the old job, which was no bad thing, the only difference being it was also the Boss’s last stand. Word was he took a hit to the hip and had to find a sawbones for some repairs, personally I think he was just out for a free meal. But anyways, we humbly show our respects to the Boss, the original goodfella, and look forward to his magnificent return. In the meantime Franky the Hat and the Bruce Clan will be running the show, so don’t give them no lip.

Blackleach Hibernaculum

Blackleach Country Park 29th November and 27th December 2020

Gallery and text updated 09/05/21

This task falls under the category of pond work even though there was no pond to work on. Instead we were both clearing an area to create a pond and building a hibernaculum. A hibernaculum is a structure in which amphibians can safely hibernate. The word comes from the Latin phrase meaning a winter camp, originally used by Roman soldiers but now the word has been re-purposed for conservation.

This particular hibernaculum is made from a linear habitat pile made from brash with logs at either end. Ultimately the structure will be covered in yew branches (removed from a nearby hedge where it was causing problems), and finally covered in the soil that will be dug out to create the ponds.

Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newt

29/11/20 – Today’s work involved our chainsaw operator cutting down some big old willow trees before the rest of the volunteers arrived. By mid-morning our chainsaw guy had finished work and left, leaving the site open for the safe six to come in and begin their work. This was mostly cutting up the brash for the habitat pile and stacking the logs for the hibernaculum’s entrance structure. The gaps between the logs will let the amphibians in but keep everything else out.

27/12/20 – Another team returned today to finish off moving the pile of brash and covering the the structure in yew branches. The structure had been widened a little to accommodate the remaining brash, well done Clayton.

10/04/21 – Finally, after several months, we were able to get a digger on to the site to dig out the figure 8 ponds and cover the hibernaculum with a layer of soil. This will both protect the amphibians from disturbance during hibernation and also protect the hibernaculum from vandals. So, job done. Photo of the the completed work supplied by Richard Marshall, the hibernaculum can be seen in the the final photo just next to the trees.

05/05/21 – After a week of heavy rain the two ponds had started to fill up with water, although Richard Marshall, the site’s warden noticed the levels started to drop by the next day. The hibernaculum itself is still being attached by vandals with several attempts being made to burn it.

National Tree Week

Longsight Park, Bolton, 6th December 2020

The Tree Council Logo

The Tree Council first established National Tree Week in March 1975 to support national replanting of trees after the outbreak of Dutch Elm disease. Each year over 250,000 people join in and plant trees across the country. National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration, annually launching the start of the winter planting season.

This year BCV has gotten involved with an event at Longsight Park, Bolton. Kids of all ages took part and planted over 300 trees in a neglected corner of the park. Using the tried and tested ‘T’ cut planting technique a mix of field maple, silver birch and sessile oak were planted along pre-prepared lanes. The trees were then protected using a first for us, cardboard tree shelters. The shelter seem a lot more durable that you’d expect and will protect the trees from grazing by deer and short-tailed field voles.

All photos were taken with parents’ permission. Family groups arrived at pre-arranged times to maintain social distancing and Tools were sanitised between uses. Thanks to T&C for organising and all the families for participating. Don’t forget to check Norman’s Christmas Cheer after viewing the photos, no captions this time, the photos speak for themselves. Happy Tree Week.

John Franklin

December 17th 2020

No year should end with sad news but this year continues to take more than it gives.

Our friend John Franklin has passed away due to covid complications.

John wasn’t just a volunteer, he was a shoulder anyone could lean on. You didn’t even need to ask, he’d just be there ready to listen to any problem you had. He’d encourage and support, and not judge. You couldn’t know John and not like him, John found many friends in BCV.

He volunteered not only with BCV but also The Wildlife Trust, and the Trust’s Men in Sheds group, a group that helps isolated men find a place and a purpose in the community. John’s ability to connect with people helped these lost individuals open up and find themselves, he probably saved many men from lives of misery and despair with just a few simple words.

John was someone whose friendship and humanity should be aspired to by everyone. His loss is a tragedy for his family, friends, the community and all who knew him. Love and condolences to John’s family, we are all thinking of you.

John’s funeral was on 7th January, at 12:00 noon at the west chapel, Overdale Cemetery. Only a limited number of people was allowed to attend, 10 family and 9 from the volunteer groups John was part of.

The family has asked for donations to be made to the British Lung Foundation in John’s memory, if that is something you would like to do.

11/04/21 – Planting John’s Orchard
As a mark of remembrance the Wildlife Trust decided to dedicate part of Seven Acres Country Park to John Franklin. The site was one of one’s favourite parts of the Country Park and he would often visit it with his wife, Evelyn.

Eighty trees, including hornbeam and birch, and various fruit trees, were planted across 2 days by members of John’s family and members of the various groups John was a part of, including BCV. There are also plans to install a bench at a later date. Photos have been added below along with photos of John working with BCV.

Many thanks to everyone who has left comments below.