Friends of The Hook were delighted to win the ‘Environmental Group of The Year’ award at the Celebrating Rushcliffe Awards Ceremony in November 2023 . Rushcliffe Borough Council commented “The environment is a key priority for us as a Council and that’s why Friends of the Hook are such worthy winners of Environmental Group of the Year sponsored by Leisure Energy! They have transformed the site next to the Trent in Lady Bay with spectacular nature and wildlife results! “ Congratulations! #CRAs2023
It’s a real tribute to all the many volunteers who have worked so hard, planting trees, sowing seed and recording wildlife. Thanks everyone!
Three new interpretational boards have recently been installed on The Hook, at the entrances to the reserve next to Melbourne Road, Mona Road and Holme Grove. These show a plan of the site together with information on its history and examples of the varied plants and wildlife that might be seen. The project was managed by Friends of The Hook Community Group, with help from Rushcliffe Borough Council. Friends of the Hook are grateful for funding for two of the boards from the East Midlands Airport Community Fund and for the other board from the Cooperative Local Community Fund. Please come along and take a look at these new displays and see if you have spotted any of the wildlife mentioned or have any similar recollections of The Hook in years past!
We are introducing new protections for wildlife in the area south of the dyke, which is particularly rich in wildlife and sensitive to disturbance. Whilst dogs can continue to be exercised off lead on the main meadow, we are asking owners to keep their dog on a short lead in the ‘Protected Wildlife Zone’ shown on the map. We’re asking horse-riders not use this area and for visitors to keep to paths so that wildflowers can grow. This approach will give added protection to wildlife, has the support of Rushcliffe Borough Council and is the practice in all Nottinghamshire Wildlife reserves.
Since becoming a nature reserve in 2009, The Hook has changed enormously with a mosaic of habitats developed including woodland, orchard, wildlife pond, meadow and wildflower areas. All of these have been created thanks to the hard work of volunteers involving many members of the community. These new habitats are attracting wildlife with 89 species of birds seen on or from the Hook over recent years, 21 species of butterflies and growing numbers of mammals. In May there were sightings of fox, badger, muntjac deer, roe deer and a stoat.
However, the rising number of visitors since Covid and especially the increased number of dogs is causing pressure. In the area south of the dyke, with its twisty paths and blind corners, dogs off lead can disturb wildlife, damage plantlife and surprise an unwary walker – particularly a child. A curious dog can cause a bird to abandon its nest. For all these reasons we are asking dog owners to keep their dog on a short lead in the ‘Protected Wildlife Zone’. With everyone’s help we can let wildflowers grow, birds nest successfully and wildlife thrive.
Before putting up signs we have publicised these changes widely, run information stalls and spoken at meetings. The response has been extremely positive and we thank people for supporting these protections for wildlife.
5.45 in the morning is an early start to the day but this didn’t put people off and Lady Bay Birdwatchers led a group of 23 people through The Hook Nature Reserve to experience the wealth of birdsong that exists right here on our doorstep.
In the dark before dawn birds sing to establish their territory and to attract a mate. Expert birders helped us identify the different birds by their songs. It was a really special experience. Thanks to Lady Bay Birdwatchers.
26 species were heard or seen. Download the full report here:
The Wildlife Pond is full and frogs are already there and mating. A huge thanks to everyone who made this happen: to the band Morris Convertible who played two fundraising gigs to raise £600 for a powerful pump and to all the volunteers from Friends of The Hook who sorted out the practicalities to get water from the dyke to the pond.
The drought of Summer 2022 meant that the pond dried up completely, meaning that many creatures such as dragonfly larvae died. Our changing climate unfortunately means that this could happen again, so we’ve taken steps to avoid it.
When the river is high there is water in the dyke which we can use to top up the pond. We’ll also use the pump for watering trees along the riverside path.
It’s been a busy winter planting trees on The Hook Nature Reserve. Thanks to the many volunteers – of all ages – who have turned out to help. We now have an avenue of 55 native trees along the riverside path, a mix of oak, alder, rowan, lime, cherry and silver birch. This will create a green corridor along the River Trent.
We’ve also added silver birch and oak to the woodland to the east of the Holme Grove path. This is now a great area for nesting birds, especially since we’ve asked people to leave this area undisturbed and instead to use the paths at either end.
Our working parties are the first Sunday of the month, meet 2pm at the Mona Road entrance.
Thanks to a ‘Boost for Biodiversity’ grant from Severn Trent we have been able to undertake more meadow making on The Hook. Greenfields contractors have power harrowed a swathe of grassland on the main field and sown a long-season mix of wildflower seed, with extra Yellow Rattle seed, to help weaken the strong growing grass. The area is by the existing grass paths, so you’ll be able to see the flowers up close.
Sections of the orchard have also been harrowed and sown with seed. The aim is to create a Wildflower Walk through this central area of the reserve, adding plant diversity to feed insects and, in turn, birds.
The Yellow Rattle is an annual and will flower and set seed in its first year. Other seeds will germinate, but may take a couple of years to flower, so we’ll have to be patient!
Two new species of butterfly have been recorded on The Hook in July 2022. Small Copper and Brown Argus are added to our growing list of 21 species. There are also greater numbers of each species. We think this is because there is a growing diversity of plant life. Once the different meadow areas become established, we hope this will allow more butterflies to breed on The Hook.
However, the drought is causing problems for the newly seeded areas. Although the spring flowers did well, later species did not germinate. Also food plants for the caterpillars are drying up. We’re noting which plants species are managing to survive and flower, despite the drought. Tansy and Yarrow are definitely tough!
The Wildflower Trail will be going up this week, ready for the weekend 9th and 10th July. We’ve worked out a route, starting on the main field this time, as the flowers there are particularly good. From the Mona Road entrance, cross the dyke and the trail starts there, then down the Holme grove path to Marlene’s meadow, the pond and orchard. Take your time, learn some names and discover the many uses of our native wild plants. We’ll have a stall on Saturday, so come and have a chat and look at our photo display.