Friday, 28 July 2017

Valley Road car park to be closed

Valley Road car park is to be closed for a 6-month trial, a decision which has been made with no consultation with birders who regularly use it. It was a nasty surprise when I found out, and very disappointing, especially as two people involved in the decision know full well I regularly use the car park and had talked to me about other things in recent months, but not about this! One of the reasons for the closure is fly-tipping, but I can't see how closing it will stop that as there will still be space there for rubbish, albeit behind a fence/barrier. I just hope other birders don't feel discouraged by this like I am...

Some email correspondence below for further info.

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I was very disappointed to learn that a decision has been made to close the Valley Road car park for a 6-month trial, without any consultation with users of the car park. I and other birdwatchers regularly use this car park because it is accessible early morning when the other car parks are closed, and it provides convenient close access to the causeway, which is a favoured observation point for us. The car park is also regularly used by C&RT and their contractors, especially those who cut the grass along the dam/causeway and do the monthly safety inspections. Other visitors also use it, and although it has low vehicle capacity I disagree with the statement that it is rarely full of cars as this varies depending on time of day and whether weekday or weekend - generally it is well used at weekends and during nice weather, like the other car parks but on a smaller scale. I took the photo in this link on Thursday evening last week: https://twitter.com/earlswoodbirds/status/885626937955295232

With the local population set to increase as more houses are built at Tidbury Green and Dickens Heath, more car parking may be needed in the future, not less. Closing this car park may encourage anglers who currently use it to park more along Malthouse Lane, especially at night when the other car parks are closed - poignant given the possibility of night fishing being allowed in future. It also won't remove antisocial behaviour from the Earlswood area as a whole as undesirables will simply go elsewhere to the dam, other car parks such as the Reservoir pub's, or the quieter lanes. Converting the car park to a planted area also won't necessarily stop fly-tipping there, as people could still drop rubbish on the plants from the road.

Surely if people are willing to take responsibility for closing the car park, they could take responsibility for improving and maintaining it? Perhaps removable bollards could be used there? I could help remove litter if provided with a picker and bags.


Kind regards,
Matt

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Hi Matt,
thank you for contacting us directly.  I am aware that you have raised this on your Twitter account.

We have worked well together in the past so I am sorry that you are against this trial.
I am also rather disappointed that you don't seem to appreciate that we have monitored and explored all the possibilities that have been open to us.

I am sending the reply that I sent to Janet James, I believe you know Janet. 

However I will add that your suggestion of removable bollards was discussed as an option but discarded as it would not stop fly tipping.
I draw your attention to the fact that C&RT were present at the meeting which made this decision and have offered some financial help towards completing the work.

Your offer of help with litter picking is appreciated but the problem is greater I'm afraid than litter picking.  When we had the meeting in Valley Rd., including District Cllr., our MP, Sgt. Bob Shaw, Ian Lane from C&Rt, Parish Council representative and Res. Assoc. representatives, we had to stand amongst men's underwear, a pair of denim jeans, bags of assorted rubbish and the debris was noted which had accumulated at the back of the site.
Depressing sight.  Residents should not have to tolerate this as I'm sure you will agree.  This of course is the tip of the iceberg of ASB associated with this parcel of land.

You mention people taking responsibility for improving and maintaining the site.  The whole point of this trial closure is because nobody will take responsibility or spend any money on it.
We can find nobody willing to take ownership, we would much prefer it if somebody came forward.
It requires money of course to make it work as a viable car park. Dumped cars set alight, overnight sleepers, fly tipping and acknowledged drug dealing don't make it very attractive for a possible responsible organisation with funding.

Yes, it may put a few more cars elsewhere but that problem already exists and has to be dealt with.
The Causeway is on the list, along with Valley Rd., for the extra police patrols which we have successfully campaigned for over the last 2 or 3 years.
I will say that we have noticed a reduction in the last 6 weeks of fly tipping.  As for the number of cars parking there, I do regularly monitor this, I'm in and out often at different times of the day, as a resident.

There are no easy answers here Matt, we did a clean up there and took away 14 bags of assorted debris, a quantity of bedding from the back of the site, and the human waste issues associated with overnight sleepers. Asbestos panels and loads of broken glass.
There are people living right behind this land.

You mention lack of consultation but, as a Res. Assoc., we do our best to find the best outcome for the local community.  The residents of Earlswood make many compromises to accommodate the visitors to the lakes.
I did speak to users of the car park, most said that if it was such a problem then close it. 

It is impossible to please everyone of course and it is a trial and will be evaluated at the end of it.

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Dear Ms. James,

The decision to trial a closure of this car park was taken at a meeting attended by our MP, the police, Canal and River Trust, our District Councillor and representation from our Parish Council.
The suggestion of a six month closure came from the police.  We, as a Res. Assoc. do not have the power to take action without the full support of those people mentioned.
It was agreed unanimously by those at the meeting.
Why do we need to take this action you may ask if you have not fully acquainted yourself with all details.
We can find no trace of an owner of the land.  This means nobody takes responsibility for maintenance or management of the land.
Streetscene, at S.D.C. have been cooperative in cleaning up the area when there has been fly tipping.  This has been a regular occurrence.
We are grateful for this as the land does not belong to S.D.C. therefore they do not have to accept any responsibility towards its maintenance.

We have people sleeping there overnight with the resulting rubbish and human excreta left behind.
We have had recently a car dumped there and then set alight.  There are two mobile homes directly behind and there was great concern for their safety.
The other issue which is ongoing is the use of this area to deal drugs.  This usually takes place in the hours of darkness although not solely.
Whilst monitoring the car park, such as it is, we have noted that it is rarely full, with a maximum of eight cars, mostly there are just one or two cars throughout the day.

I would also point out that overnight fishing is illegal at Earlswood Lakes so there should be no vehicles associated with fishing in the hours of darkness.

Whilst the residents of Earlswood understand the needs of visitors they are entitled to peace and quiet in the hours of darkness and the early hours of the morning.  This is not unreasonable.

Ms. James, you suggest that we improve the area in Valley Rd., but with no ownership, who do you suggest pays for this? Do you think that we haven't explored options?
The Res. Assoc., made up of local residents, is well placed to know all the recurring problems we have accommodating the visitors to the lakes

The residents of Malthouse Lane have to put up with far too much as it is and this area in Valley Rd. attracts anti social behaviour. 
We are trying to remove these unacceptable elements not encourage them.  If you live here I'm sure you would agree with this.

I would suggest that, in the early hours of the morning, you park in the Red Lion car park.  By walking along Wood Lane you can take the path down to the lakes therefore disturbing no-one. I would also suggest approaching Tanworth in Arden Parish Council asking if the Malthouse Lane car park hours of closing in the summer months could be reviewed and a sign for the car park be reinstated.


We do not want anybody parking anywhere in the hours of darkness, residents deserve their hours of peace to live and sleep.



This is our view and we would prefer the area to be taken over and managed but this is not an option that has been taken up by any of the interested parties.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Twitter

For the latest Earlswood bird news, please visit www.twitter.com/earlswoodbirds

N.B. You don't have to join Twitter to view updates.

Terry's Pool desolation

Apologies for the tardiness of this post. The past few months have been somewhat depressing for those of us with an interest in the wildlife of Earlswood Lakes. Although the Cormorant-scaring, which had been causing disturbance to waterbirds, was stopped around the beginning of this month due to the bird breeding season starting, further efforts to reduce Cormorant numbers at the lakes by removing trees used for perching have resulted in an unsightly, heartbreaking scene at Terry's Pool. Trees on some of the islands have been cut back extremely hard, and it will take a long time for them to recover, which I hope they will and will be allowed to. I thank Tony Philp, who has been monitoring the lakes more frequently than me of late, for permission to reproduce his email to C&RT here, which explains the story more fully:

As a conservationist I'm becoming increasingly concerned by the CRT Fisheries & Angling Management's approach to maintenance around Earlswood Lakes.

Initially it took the form of 'Minor Tree Works' around the angling platforms in December of last year, when contractors cut, pruned and removed overhanging limbs, branches and bushes from around the platforms on Engine Pool. This they then stacked 6' high between each platform (attached pics) thus suppressing any natural vegetation that might grow to screen the lake and provide refuge for fish and wildlife. As predicted in my email to Carl Nicholls on  9/01/17 this is now falling/being thrown into the lake and adjoining feeder streams, not to mention destroying the appearance of what was an attractive lakeside walk for visitors.

Last week the contractors returned and under the instructions of Carl Nicholls were to have removed limbs and branches from the 5 or 6 islands at the far end of Terry's Pool (this despite the fact that the CRT had been made aware earlier that birds were nesting on the site) What happened appears inexcusable - The large 2 islands at the north end of the lake, which had already been 'pruned' last year, were reduced to little more than floating platforms (attached pic). Most of the prunings were left on the island or in the water making it inaccessible to waterfowl for nesting. A third island which had no suitable perching places was half attacked and left with several ideal perches! (attached before & after pics)

This is not the first time that contractors employed by the CRT have made a mess of the job, and I would suggest that in future, such work is supervised by a knowledgeable member of the CRT on site or, alternative contractors found who know what they are doing. Carl was at pains to point out that these contractors were 'aware of environmental considerations including the potential for nesting birds'. - I don't think so!

I understand that you would like Terry's Pool to 'remain a place for nature, introduce more educational visits and try and regain the SSSI status'. So would I, but if this is the case, then the Fisheries & Angling Management staff need to be aware of it , so that they can actively support the aim rather than favour dismantling the habitat for the benefit of only fishermen.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Philp (10/03/2017)

C&RT sent the following response to an email from Earlswood Wildlife Partnership:

It appears that whilst a clear instruction was given by Carl, our contractors have failed to deliver the agreed works and done something totally different which is unacceptable. The works planned by Carl were minor tree works that had been approved. The works have been carried out on completely the wrong island as they  were supposed to be carried out on the small islands at the top of the reservoir but have instead been carried out on the two islands closest to the Engine lake .  The works have also been carried out beyond the specification of just cutting tree limbs and branches.

The Trust now needs to understand how this has happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

As is correctly stated below I still firmly believe the site can reach an environmental status. The nature of the lakes will always mean that we need to keep the balance of works to promote wildlife and also to ensure the fishery is successful but we can’t keep making errors like this and I can assure you that neither Carl, Paul or me are happy that this has happened.

Kind regards
Ian Lane (09/03/2017)

Cut branches at Engine Pool (Tony Philp)

Cut branches at Engine Pool (Tony Philp)

Terry's Pool "Little Egret island" - before (Tony Philp)

Terry's Pool "Little Egret island" - after (Tony Philp)

Terry's Pool "Cormorant island" - four years ago (Jenny Renowden)

Terry's Pool "Cormorant island" - this month (Tony Philp)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Reservoir Plantation

Some habitat photos and location map of the woodland owned by the Reservoir pub, which adjoins the eastern side of Windmill Pool:
















Tuesday, 29 November 2016

From C&RT: "Minor tree works" at Engine Pool

Dear all,

Just to let you know that our contactors will be onsite on Friday 2nd December and the following week from Tuesday 6th December to cut, prune and remove overhanging limbs, branches and bushes that are having an impact on anglers, casting or playing fish from the wooden platforms around Engine pool. They will be working their way round visiting each platform and carrying out any necessary work to allow for safe angling. Many will require no work, with the majority of the works being from pegs 15 to 40.

Kind regards

Carl Nicholls
Fisheries & Angling Manager
Canal & River Trust

Monday, 21 November 2016

Three pieces of good news!

I've reported a fair bit of bad news for Earlswood wildlife on here this year. On top of this, I neglected to mention such things as the clearance of the scrubby field beside the railway in-between Clowes Wood and Earlswood station during the breeding season, the continuing gradual cutting of trees in the copse adjoining the northernmost side of Terry's Pool, and most recently the bund of earth with leylandii conifers planted on top that is now at Rose Farm. Apparently the landowner of Rose Farm is also not allowing Earlswood Wildlife Partnership to replace the dilapidated owl box that's there, which was formerly used regularly by Stock Doves. :-(

Anyway, I have three pieces of good news to pass on:

Housing development

There was concern about 10 sites in the Earlswood recording area being considered for suitability for development, after they were included in a "Call for sites" document published by Solihull Council earlier this year. However, the council have now published their Draft Local Plan for the borough, to guide housing development up to the year 2033, and I'm pleased to see that none of the sites proposed to be developed lie within the Earlswood area. Having said that, a few sites are fairly close and an increase in the human population locally will still impact Earlswood, most notably through increased visitor numbers to the area. The Draft Local Plan document and maps of proposed development sites are available at:
http://www.cgra.org.uk/documents/draft_local_plan_nov2016.pdf
http://www.cgra.org.uk/documents/draft_local_plan_site_allocations.pdf

Terry's Pool fishing

Another concern was the proposals submitted to Canal and River Trust regarding expansion of fishing at Terry's Pool. Fortunately, thanks to everyone who sent in objections, the proposals will not be considered further, though I suspect they'll be pushed for again in the future. The following email contains some further potentially exciting news:
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Dear All

Thank you, on behalf of Earlswood Stakeholders Group, for your contribution to the consultation regarding fishing on Terry’s Pool Earlswood. Ian Lane, The Canal and River Trust’s Waterways Manager for the West Midlands, has considered all the correspondence  regarding the issue and made the following statement: -

I have now informed Mr Verney that I will not be changing my stance on fishing around Terry’s pool and it will continue to be used as a place for nature with no increase in fishing. We want to raise its profile and introduce more educational visits to it, including pond dipping etc. I also want to try and regain the old SSSI status it once had as well as using it for spawning of fish (if possible) and other water based creatures. Please pass on my thanks to those that helped in the consultation process.

I am sure you will all be as pleased with the result as we were.

Kind Regards

Len Cresswell

Member of Earlswood Lakes Stakeholders Group representing CRT, West Midlands Waterways Partnership 
------------------------

If anyone knows anything about the SSSI designation which Terry's Pool formerly had, please get in touch with me as I can't find anything on it.

Terry's Pool, 17/11/2016
Earlswood Springwatch

Thirdly, Earlswood Springwatch 2017 is happening, and the date has been confirmed as Saturday May 13th. I should be free to attend this and I'm currently considering doing a "Birds of Earlswood" display! Perhaps in conjunction with the West Midland Bird Club. I kind of struggle with talking to people, especially groups, so I'm looking for at least one other Earlswood regular to join me on the day for a bit of moral support and to help talk to the public about our patch. No doubt the WMBC folk will also help but it would be good to have someone who can talk about recent sightings, etc. Anyone interested?

Matt

Monday, 12 September 2016

Proposals to expand fishing at Terry's Pool... again

We've been here before, but again proposals have been submitted to Canal and River Trust regarding expansion of fishing at Terry's Pool, and apparently the fisherman pushing this is taking them to court over it! Currently fishing at Terry's Pool is restricted to the eastern side that adjoins Engine Pool. The following is from Earlswood Wildlife Partnership, and the expansion proposals are in the image at the bottom:

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Dear Members
Attached are details of proposals sent to Canal and River Trust regarding changes requested to fishing rights on Terry’s Pool.
Earlswood Wildlife Partnership will oppose these changes which we see as detrimental to the wildlife of this area but we have been asked to forward this proposal to our members in order that as many people as possible have the opportunity to make their views heard.
Any views you may wish to put forward should be sent to Len Cresswell: Irecresswell@btinternet.com
no later than 19th September to enable him to compile a reply to these proposals based on interested parties views (we would be grateful if you could send a copy of your response to us as well).
Please do forward a copy of this to anyone you feel maybe interested in this proposal and may wish to make a response but, most importantly, please send your responses to Len Cresswell BEFORE 19th September.
Best regards
Cheryl Roberts (Secretary)
Earlswood Wildlife Partnership

Rose Farm habitat changes

In the wooded part of Rose Farm adjoining Little Clowes Wood, trees have been cut down and the stream dredged. It's no longer possible to access Clowes Wood meadow via here as the stream has been re-directed around the culvert, which formerly you could walk on to cross the stream. Most alarmingly though is the fact that this has been done in the immediate vicinity of bat boxes, and some of the trees felled may have had bat boxes on them! Some of this land may be owned by Canal and River Trust too, but as far as I know this work has been done by the Parker family who are the new owners of Rose Farm! Pictures taken today:

Trees have been cleared all the way along the stream to where it joins Terry's Pool feeder channel

Cleared area looking towards the railway

Cleared area looking towards the railway

The now defunct culvert, the stream having been re-directed around it

Cleared area right next to bat boxes :-(

Cleared area right next to bat boxes :-(

Cleared area looking towards Terry's Pool

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Earlswood autumn all-day birdwatch 2016

This autumn's patch all-dayer produced a cumulative total of 57 bird species. Many thanks to John Sirrett for compiling the following list for the day:
  1. Mute Swan
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Mallard
  5. Tufted Duck
  6. Little Grebe
  7. Great Crested Grebe
  8. Cormorant
  9. Grey Heron
  10. Sparrowhawk
  11. Buzzard
  12. Kestrel
  13. Pheasant
  14. Moorhen
  15. Coot
  16. Common Sandpiper
  17. Black-headed Gull
  18. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  19. Herring Gull
  20. Stock Dove
  21. Wood Pigeon
  22. Collared Dove
  23. Swift
  24. Kingfisher
  25. Green Woodpecker
  26. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  27. Sand Martin
  28. Swallow
  29. House Martin
  30. Meadow Pipit
  31. Grey Wagtail
  32. Pied Wagtail
  33. Wren
  34. Dunnock
  35. Robin
  36. Blackbird
  37. Song Thrush
  38. Mistle Thrush
  39. Blackcap
  40. Chiffchaff
  41. Goldcrest
  42. Long-tailed Tit
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Great Tit
  45. Nuthatch
  46. Treecreeper
  47. Magpie
  48. Jay
  49. Jackdaw
  50. Carrion Crow
  51. Raven
  52. Starling
  53. House Sparrow
  54. Chaffinch
  55. Greenfinch
  56. Goldfinch
  57. Bullfinch
I could only manage to find 40 species (re-counted) in the 4 hours I could spare due to uni coursework, so many thanks to John Oates, John Sirrett and Jim Winsper for also participating. It rained for part of the day, and many of the passerines were elusive, often just heard-only observations in vegetation still in full-leaf, so conditions were especially challenging. Seeing as we got 56 species on the all-dayer last autumn, 57 this autumn was a very good score!

By the way, I realise that I never got round to writing up the results of the Earlswood all-dayer back in the spring. The 77 species recorded in one day was a fantastic result and must surely be a patch record - one which we may never beat again! I got 67 species which was a personal best. Many thanks to the participants on that day, who were Jon Chidwick, Paul Fitzgerald, Yvonne Heward, Mike Jeeves, John Oates, Barbara Philp, Tony Philp, John Sirrett and Jim Winsper.

I'm so proud of Team Earlswood! :-)

Monday, 22 August 2016

Call for development sites at Earlswood

Solihull Council have recently published a "Call for sites" schedule, presenting sites submitted by landowners and developers to the council for consideration of suitability for housing development. Somewhat alarmingly, 10 of these sites are situated within the Earlswood recording area (all in Tidbury Green parish) and some are quite large, but all have yet to be assessed for their suitability at this early stage. Certainly something to keep an eye on...

Here's a map of the sites with the site names (and promoters/agents)
below:

37 Bowyer Farm (landowner)
39 Field adjacent to Tudor Croft (landowner)
42 Big Cleobury Farm (landowner)
58 Land at Cleobury Lane (John Shepherd Estate Agents)
69 Norton Lane (PRW Strategic Advice)
70 Kidpile Farm (landowner)
71 Land at 149-163 Wood Lane (Tyler-Parkes Partnership)
73 Earlswood Caravan/Ambleside Nursery (ACL Consultants)
141 Land around Earlswood Station (Bilfinger GVA)
206 Land at Norton Lane (DS Planning)