Saturday, 25 March 2017

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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)