Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve


Work that is going on in the Reserve

There are always many jobs going on around the reserve, the following have been documented with the use of pictures and a brief description.

Put out Duck Boxes on the Island
Maiden Erlegh Work Party
Aerating the Lake
Install a Gate

Rebuilding a Fishing Platform
Maiden Erlegh Work Party

Creating a Dam
Barley Straw Sausages
Retrieving Life Belts
Silt Entrapment Pond

Maiden Erlegh School Work Party
Erect Duckling Nets
Remove BMX Track
Replace footsteps on fishing bays

Clear Brambles
Opening Vista's on Lakeside
Replacing the Footpath Edging
Helping the Reeds

Clearing the Weir
Put out Duck Boxes on the Island
Woodchip Piles around the Lake
Tree felling around the Lake
"Conservation is Selective Destruction"





Maiden Erlegh School Work Party
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)
Removing large stones from the footpaths
As time goes by large stones start to appear on the footpaths which can easily be tripped over so these stones are regularly removed.

Putting hogging on the ground
As footpaths start to erode they form depressions which trap water, or in other words, puddles start to appear. Putting hogging on the ground levels the paths and leaves nowhere for the puddles to form.
Tidying up the fishing bays
By digging in all the fallen leaves and turning the soil we get a much better finish to the new fishing bays near the weir.
Working on the lake banks
Before we started the lake banks were all overgrown with weeds and brambles

The idea is to clear the weeds and slope the banks down into the lake

Which enables us to plant reeds for the fish to spawn in

When there's mud around some people just can't help but get stuck in.




Rebuilding a fishing platform
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

As some of the older fishing bays are made of natural materials they gradually begin to deterioate with old age, so every now and again they need rebuilding. Seeing as we have the technology and a bailiff work party who are willing to spend their Sundays helping out, two of the older bays are now being rebuilt.



Putting out duck boxes on the island
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)
Crossing the lake
In order to get to the island we have to use our trusty boat and provided the battery has been fully charged we can get there with no effort at all using the electric motor. But occasionally oars are required due to an oversight in battery maintenance.
Getting ready
All the materials are transported, along with the bailiffs to the lake ready to start work. The work involved clearing areas for the siting of the duck boxes, spreading straw around for use as nesting material for the ducks and erecting a fence around the island in order to keep the Canada Geese off.
Home sweet home
Here is a duck box all ready for one lucky couple.



Maiden Erlegh School - Make a Difference day
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

A couple of times a year volunteers from Maiden Erlegh school come to the lake to help out on various projects for a few hours.
Preparing barley straw sausages
In order to maintain a high water quality in the lake, twice a year we use a Christmas tree stuffing machine to produce large barley straw sausages which are then thrown into the lake where they sink. The barley straw works by releasing chemicals into the water as it rots which inhibits the development of algae.
Planting plants
1000 plants were planted in the wetland area and several hundred in the wildflower meadow. These include Wild Marjoram, Meadow Cranesbill, Common St. Johns Wort, Purple Loosestrife, Field Scabious, Lady's Bedstraw & Meadow Buttercups.




Aerating the Lake
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

In the summer months there is very little rainfall which means that there is very little flow of water through the lake which leads to a large algae build up. This extra algae uses up the oxygen in the lake making it look green & horrible and also deprives the fish and other plants of oxygen. To prevent this happening a temporary fountain has been installed which aerates the water giving a much healthier atmosphere in the lake.





Install a Gate
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

A gate has been installed at the top of the boat launching ramp, which is found next to the duck feeding platform. This has been done for safety reasons as the slipway lives up to it's name and can be very slippery - especially when wet.





Creating a Dam
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

In order to prevent the algae from leaking through the stone dams that were built to form the silt entrapment pond a non-porous membrane is placed over the cages that contain the stones.







Barley Straw Sausages
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

In order to maintain a high water quality in the lake, twice a year the Water Bailiffs and work parties from Maiden Erlegh school use a Christmas tree stuffing machine to produce large barley straw sausages which are then positioned at the inlet to the lake where they sink after a couple of weeks. The barley straw works by releasing chemicals into the water as it rots which inhibits the development of algae.





Retrieving Life Belts
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

This is a job that needs doing nearly every day throughout the whole year. The life belts get removed from their housings and are thrown into the lake where drowning people cannot get near to them. They can only be retrieved once they have been blown to the lakeside so can go several days without collection.



Apr 2003: Silt Entrapment Pond
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

To see how and why we transformed the inlet of the lake Click Here



Maiden Erlegh School - Make a Difference day
A couple of times a year volunteers from Maiden Erlegh school come to the lake to help out on various projects for a few hours.
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)
1. Preparing barley straw sausages...
...which are put in the lake to help control algae.
2. Putting hogging under the benches and around the bins...
...to give a better surface in the wet.
3. Setting up log piles for beetles, mice, wood lice and other small animals & bugs to live in.
Digging a deep hole...
...to put logs in vertically...
...to provide a home for stag beetles.
4. Digging trenches beside the footpath in the wood...
...to provide better drainage.
5. Shifting the woodchips from the lakeside and using them on the footpath leading from the lake to Instow Road.



Erect Duckling Nets
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Now is the time of year when the ducklings start to hatch. The weir is a dangerous place for them as they can easily be swept over the top of it, so these nets have been put in place to prevent this from happening.



Before


Remove BMX Track
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Earlier this week someone had built a couple of ramps, presumably for cyclists to play on, underneath the Gemini Oaks. A lot of effort had been put into the track by removing footpath edging logs and then digging holes in the playing field to get some earth to make a ramp over the logs. However, this means that people would be walking and cycling under the tree which compacts the soil and prevents the tree getting the moisture it needs to survive. After living for over 500 years it would be a pity to harm it now so the track was removed and the footpath blocked with logs.
After






Replace footsteps on fishing bays
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Seeing as most of the footsteps that lead down to the fishing bays are made of natural materials (ie. wood) to fit into the reserve they need replacing every so often as they start to rot, or are damaged by vandels. This work is carried out by the water bailiffs.




Clearing Brambles
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

The brambles alongside the Wildflower Meadow encroach on a regular basis, therefore they need to be chopped back at least once a year otherwise they start to grow over, and kill, the flowers in the meadow.



Opening Vista's on Lakeside
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Several "windows" with views over the lake have been opened up on Lakeside, this has been done after requests from the residents who want to be able to have a better view from their front windows.



Replacing the footpath edging
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Some of the edges of the footpaths were missing and others had worn out so new edging has been put in place around the lake near the weir and also on the woodland footpath. The edging on the woodland trail was taken from the trees that were felled from the Instow Road side of the lake last month.



Before Helping the Reeds After
On the Lakeside shore of the lake you will see that all vegetation that was overhanging the reed beds has been cut back, this is to allow more sunlight in which will promote the growth of the reeds. This will in turn lead to a better environment for nesting ducks.



Clearing the Weir
This is Grahame, the chief ranger, clearing the build up of debris from the weir.



Water Bailiff Work Party
Boat Island (the large one) is the nesting place for many of the waterfowl on the lake, to give them a helping hand we put out various nesting boxes on the ground and in the trees.
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)
Preparing to set sail across the lake
Crossing the lake
Duck and bird boxes ready to be put in place
Wood Duck Box, Tunnel Box and Ramp Boxes
Terry (The Chief Bailiff) putting up a wood duck box, these are mounted on trees over hanging the water so that the chicks can fall out of the nest and into the lake.
Terry, again, maintaining an existing nesting box on one of the floating pontoons
A ramp box ready use, all that is missing is the For Sale sign, and a duck
A makeshift nesting area using dead branches from the island
This is the middle of the island with a couple of dead hedges on. Little "rooms" have been built under the dead hedges for the use of the ducks. The straw has been left lying around to be used as nesting material



Woodchip Piles around the Lake
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

You may have noticed several piles of chippings around the Instow Road side of the lake. These are the left over from the brambles and trees that were cleared from the side of the lake. Due to the rotting of the wood in the pile and the heat this generates you can actually see steam emerging from the top of the pile on some days.



Tree Felling around the Lake
(Click photo to see it full size, followed by the "back" button)

Brambles and trees have been cleared from the Instow Road side of the lake. The idea behind the clearing work is to provide more light for the reed beds making them grow much wider and denser which then provides a great habitat for the nesting waterfowl and a larger feeding area for the plant eaters on the lake. Even though it is quite empty at the moment this is no excuse for people, or their pets, to wander along the lakeside as this will turn it into a mudbath and also scare off the wildlife.