Bioblitz weekend 7-8th September

A Bioblitz was held at the reserve at the beginning of the month. A Bioblitz is a fast, intensive survey of all forms of life in a natural space carried out by expert naturalists and members of the public. It's a race to find as many as possible different species of plants, birds, insects, fungi, mammals, fish, and everything else  in 24 hours. Everything found is written down to make a 'species record' which feeds into national databases that monitor our wildlife - citizen science in action!

A survey session of bats and moths was held on the Saturday evening and on Sunday, the search was on for all manner of bugs and beasts. The photos below are from the Sunday morning session where visitors were helped with identifying and recording the spider population by a local expert from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Results from the Bioblitz have been forwarded to the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Record Centre to be recorded on their database (http://www.wsbrc.org.uk/Default.aspx).

bioblitz 2

bioblitz 6

bioblitz 4

For more information about Bioblitzs, visit this website: http://www.bnhc.org.uk/home/bioblitz/

Photographs by Anita Exton



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Mammal Workshop - new date

The mammals workshop has been re-scheduled for 25th August and will start at 9am to show live mammals.

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December 2012

What a wet year! The reserve has been flooded about 8 times but in spite of all the rain our new paths have survived really well and show no signs of destruction - unlike the muddy Riverside Walk which is almost unusable. There is a lot of silt deposited around the river seat, but we have brushed it off once and it will be done again to restore a clean hard surface. One of the hibernacula was partly flooded, but the big one remained dry so we hope the reptiles will have survived.

Ducks in the flood 6523

Our record of 15 dragonflies from last year was not repeated this year but good numbers of Scarce Chaser Dragonfly and White legged Damselflies were found, along with an unusually large number of Brown Hawkers. Let’s hope for a good year in 2013.

Our butterfly numbers were down as they were almost everywhere.

It was good to find a new species for the reserve in a Herald Moth, quite a common one which flies in the winter - pictured below.

Herald-Moth 5081

Keep a look out for waxwings which have come to winter in Britain in recent weeks. Please let the wardens know if you see one.

Copy of waxwing3

All records are valuable. Please report your findings to the wardens (Tel. 01225 703859), or if possible to the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Record centre -


Records of hedgehogs - anywhere in Wiltshire - are particularly welcome just now.

We are planning several events for 2013 to help you get more from this reserve - Watch this space!

Season’s Greetings to all our readers

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Celebration Day

24th June 2012

The celebration day was enjoyed by local people and the Reserve's volunteers, despite the river overflowing. The marquee was moved further up the rerserve to avoid the rising flood waters.  The day's activities went ahead as planned, only cut short by half an hour when the river finally inundated much of the site.

open day

There was pond dipping and wildlife and bird information stands, as well as bee-keeping and arts & crafts demonstrations. Food provided by Melksham's WI.

open day 8

Ceramic tiles, made by local artist Jane Johnson and young people at Canberra Youth Centre, were installed at the three entrances. 

open day 11

An impressive cake, depicting the reserve, was made by Win Rose for the occasion and was cut by Ian and Gill Cardy (the reserve wardens) and Gary Mantle (Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Director).

Cutting the cake

(above photos by Anita Exton)

The Town Cryer livened up the day and Perry Chadwyck-Healy, the Chair of the WWT Trustees, cut the ribbon.

Chair of Wilts Wildlife Trust cuts the ribbon

(photo by Gill Cardy)


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Volunteers Start Lottery-Funded Work

January Working Party

The physical work on the Lottery Project started in earnest today.
Some new volunteers were very welcome and made a good work force of 11people, together with some very young volunteers who did a good job of litter-picking.

new volunters at work resize

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November 18th

The Volunteers' Activities

Today we had two tasks to get on with. The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have got us some railway sleepers to make a base for our new shed which we hope will be delivered soon. Our volunteers, with the aid of some strops, carefully carried the sleepers to the site at the south-western end of the reserve where we plan to put a half container. This will be a small storage shed and will save carting our conservation tools from their present storage some distance away. The site had already been leveled by the Payback Team pretty well and there was very little adjustment needed.

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Willow Trees Along The River

Some background on the recent tree-cutting exercise

The trees along the river and around the pond have recently been coppiced and pollarded, but not cut down, as a management plan for several reasons: They are ‘crack’ willow and frequently break off their branches when they get large and heavy. This of course could be dangerous to passers-by; This will let more light into the river so allowing water plants to grow which are good for breeding dragonflies and other water creatures; They have grown very tall and have become difficult to manage by our volunteers. Willows grow quickly and will soon regrow their branches.

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Flower ID Workshop

21st July 2013

On Sunday 21st July we held the first of our workshops funded by the Lottery. The weather was gloriously hot, and many flowers were in bloom. Our usual meadow cranesbill was very abundant but our leader, Tim Kaye, soon had us investigating other plants. We eventually recorded over 60 species of plants, mostly wildflowers, particular special ones were Flowering Rush and Arrowhead (also flowering) in the river, and masses of Purple Loosestife. It was a very informative workshop.

Arrow head flower 6811



Flowering Rush


Purple loosestrife, with green-veined butterfly.

Musk-Mallow 6658

Musk Mallow

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Workshops Update

Due to the cold weather the insects are not as numerous as usual, so the DRAGONFLY AND OTHER INSECTS WORKSHOP has been postponed and will now take place on Sunday 11th August at 10am till 4pm.
Other workshop are:
FLOWERING PLANTS: Sunday 21st July
MAMMALS: Sunday 4th August
REPTILES:  Saturday 1st September
All courses are for anyone with an interest in wildlife and are free, supported by the Big Lottery. Refreshments will be provided.
Places are limited. Booking essential to Wiltshire Wildlife Tust  (0138072560) or to Ian & Gill Cardy (01225 703859)

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Tea-break on the new seats

Melksham's bee keepers made the most of the new seats on the Reserve and enjoyed a tea-break at their last meeting.

Bee keepers

photo by Pete Colegate

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Latest news from the Reserve

by Gill Cardy

A brand new Leaflet for Conigre Mead has been designed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, sponsored by Sainsbury’s as part of a fee for housing the translocated reptiles prior to beginning work on their flood relief area.
It will shortly be available in the Tourist Information Office in Church Street.
Sadly our new shed was vandalised shortly after it arrived as someone smashed one of the padlocks.  Fortunately we have other security measures in place and they were unable to get in.  There are only a few working tools in there anyway.

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Arrival of Peter's Shed and Opening Ceremony

on 9th December

The storage container was delivered last Friday. Two members of the volunteer group helped the lorry driver reverse into the reserve and unload the container onto the sleepers.

container 4


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News from Conigre Mead

'Peter's Shed'

We have now laid some railway sleepers in the reserve as a base for our new shed. The shed is partly financed by a donation from Jo Mowday in memory of her late husband Peter Mowday and his friend and mentor Helen Brotherton, who were both passionate about wildlife conservation and Natural History education. Peter Mowday was well known in Melksham as a former head teacher of the Aloeric School. He was an imaginative teacher and used to take his pupils to the Nature Reserve for all kinds of lessons. He taught Maths there, using the Reserve as a resource and a tool, as well as looking at and recording the wildlife that he and the children found.

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The Volunteers

Group photo

The dedicated volunteers who meet on the third Saturday of each month to undertake conservation tasks at the reserve.

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