Category Archives: Events

River Guardian Training Workshop

 

BEACON River Guardian TrainingBEACON held a fantastic River Guardian workshop on 25th January at Marthall Hall.  There were over 30 volunteers who attended the day-long workshop, which was a mixture of indoor desktop training, and then outdoor practical learning.

The aim of the workshop was to train volunteers, who have come from all backgrounds and levels of experience, to be able to safely take  water samples from local watercourses, and test the samples there and then using simple test kits.  These kits test phosphate and nitrate levels, pH and temperature of the water.  Volunteers then record this information and send the results to BEACON where we can analyse this information and see where problem areas are.

The day was kicked off by Terry Dudley, of the Birkin Fly Fishers, who explained the work that has previously been done by the anglers, and also students from Manchester University who took and tested water samples from various points along Birkin and Mobberley Brooks.  There is therefore already a good deal of baseline data for us to work with.

BEACON River Guardian TrainingCaroline Riley, from Healthy Rivers Trust, then spoke to the group about the importance of water quality testing, what we use the information for and how to carry out the tests themselves.  Caroline gave a practical demonstration of the equipment and test kits, and also answered questions.  Anna Gilchrist of Manchester University was also on hand to answer any tricky questions the volunteers had!

After lunch the group walked from Marthall Hall to Pedley Brook where they were all able to practice carrying out the water tests and how to accurately record the information.  A quick kick-sample was also carried out and a stickleback was found in the bottom of the brook!  The tests carried out on the brook showed low levels of both phosphate and nitrate too.

BEACON River Guardian Training

 

 

 

BEACON River Guardian Training

On returning to the Hall volunteers were encouraged to ‘Adopt and Spot’, to take and test water samples from on a regular basis, and equipment and test kits were handed out.

The day was a huge success with positive feedback received from the attendees.  People from over ten different partner organisations attending the training, as well as individual interested volunteers.  The volunteers have now ‘adopted’ 25 spots along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks as well as along the Rivers Dean and Bollin.

BEACON River Guardian Training

If you would like to find out more about the River Guardian project, or become a River Guardian yourself please contact us here.BEACON River Guardian Training

 

River Guardian Training Workshop

 

The Ruploading-resultsiver Guardian training session being held on Wednesday 25th January is now fully booked.

If you are still interested in attending River Guardian training, please contact us here and if there is enough uptake we will be running another date.  You can find information on what the training entails here.

Thanks everyone for your support!!   

Partnership working bashes balsam!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

As the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’, and this is definitely the case for anything BEACON hopes to achieve in the Bollin Catchment.  By working in partnership with other organisations, landowners and local communities we can bring together those many hands to work towards one common aim; improving our water courses and local environment for everyone to enjoy.

 

On a 6th July the Environment Agency and Bollin Valley Partnership teamed up to carry out a huge balsam bash on land owned and managed by the National Trust at Styal.  There was a really good team of 20 volunteers from the Environment Agency, made up from a number of different departments.  The weather was kind to the team and it didn’t rain for the whole event, which always makes a difference to the mood!

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large section of riverbank and southern woods was cleared of balsam, which complemented work done last year with a much smaller Environment Agency  team.  The National Trust were delighted with the work done as they have not had the resources to host large groups pulling balsam this year.  Huge thanks to Rachel Argyros, EA, and Emma Houghton, BVP for organising this balsam bash.

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

picture by Barrie Scholes, EA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Bollin Valley Partnership and Environment Agency would like to run this event again next year, with even more volunteers so we can really get to grips with the balsam in this area. A great example of partnership working!

 

Environment Agency Bollin Valley Partnership Styal Balsam Bash

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash DeanClub members and volunteers had a fantastic balsam bash on 2nd July, in some slightly changeable weather where sunscreen and wellies were needed, all in one morning!  There were 16 volunteers in all, including three children who contributed over 40 volunteer hours in total.

 

 

 

 

Although there is a still a lot of balsam found in the nearby Dairyhouse Wood, the volume of balsam in some areas of the woodland has really decreased thanks to consistent control work in these areas year on year.  Now these small areas are under control, the golf club and its volunteers can look to begin work in other areas of the woodland.

Avro Golf Club Woodford Balsam Bash Dean

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash Bollin Stockport Woodford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The working party on Saturday did just that, and were rewarded with lots of sandwiches and fruit pies in the Clubhouse afterwards.  Thank you to everyone that took part in the bash and contributed to keeping the River Dean free of invasive species.  At least you won’t be winning the wooden spoon for ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’ this year!

For more information on upcoming balsam bashes can be found here.

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Balsam Bash Avro Golf Club

Tree Planting on the Carrs

Woodland Trust Trees Friends of the CarrsOn Thursday 12th March, which turned out to be a bright and fairly warm morning for a change, four volunteers from BEACON, Bollin Valley Partnership and Friends of the Carrs planted 100 tree saplings.

The trees were awarded to the Friends of the Carrs by the Woodland Trust, who had 4,500 tree packs to give away last autumn to school and community groups.  Friends of the Carrs applied for, and were successfully granted 100 saplings as part of the ‘Wild Harvest Pack’.  The species in this pack included, Hazel, Blackthorn, Crab Apple, Dog Rose and Elder, and the pack was delivered in early March.

 

Friends of the Carrs Tree Planting

The trees were mainly planted along Styal Road, adjacent to the car park at Twinnies Bridge.  This is because the Friends of the Carrs have been working hard to establish a hedgerow here for some time and it was good to add to the planting that had already been done in this location.  A hedgerow here will not only provide excellent feeding and nesting habitat for small birds, but also screen off the busy road.  The trees, all native broadleaved species, will grow into a flourishing hedgerow in as little as 10 years.

Tree Planting Friends of the Carrs

The remaining trees were planted in the old tennis court and bowling green area, which has recently been cleared by Cheshire East Council.  These were mainly Crab Apple and Elder, which will provide interest for people visiting the Carrs as well as blossom for insects and fruit for birds.

The UK has just 13% woodland cover compared to a European average of 44%, and the trees we do have are under increasing threat from diseases and development. By teaming up with communities like Friends of the Carrs, the Woodland Trust hopes that the UK can double its native woodland cover and enrich the landscape for generations to come.

 

Friends of the Carrs - Tree planting volunteers

Trees with guards - friends of the carrs

Volunteer Thank You Event – 22nd Jauary 2015

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Event

A Volunteer Thank You Event was held at Mathall Hall, Chelford in January to thank all the BEACON volunteers for their hard work and support over the year.  This is the second Thank You Event that BEACON has held, and was as succeesful and well-received as the first.

Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer, gave a presentation about the work that BEACON has done over the past year, and the achievements of its staff and volunteers.  This presentation was interspersed by four volunteers from KRIV, Avro Golf Club, Birkin Fly Fishers and the designer of this very website (thanks Ade 🙂 )  who gave their account of how they got involved with BEACON over the past year, and what they do to support the project.

BEACON Volunter Thank You Event Presentation

There were displays in the hall showing statistics of how many km of balsam pulled, how many volunteer hours contributed etc, and large maps of the catchment for people to view.  It was good to be able to see these statistics in a graphical way, as it really illustrates the impact BEACON has had over the year.

There were 25 volunteers that attended the evening with a good mixture of partner organisations and volunteers amongst the attendees.

 

 

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards- golden spoons

There was also a light-hearted awards section at the end of the evening where golden spoons were presented to organisations for categories such as the ‘Best Sprayer’ or ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’. These awards were well received.

 

 

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards- Avro Golf Club

Vic Tarr accepting Avro Golf Club’s awards for ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’ held on July 19th…the earlier post and photos about this bash speak for themselves!

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards - Best Dressed

Rosie Fisher accepting her award for ‘Best Dressed’ for working all day in full protective gear during one of the hottest days of the summer when decapitating Giant Hogweed

No formal feedback was received via the feedback cards, but the following are excerpts from emails sent after the Thank You Event:

 

 

 

 

 

‘Thank you for last night, it was great to see other aspects of Beacon’s work’

‘Well done for everything last night – the format of how you talk interspersed with others talking is really good!’

‘What a brilliant meeting that was yesterday.  The way you interspersed your talk with the pieces from the volunteers was so good……. and the golden spoons with their pictures are a lovely idea.’

‘Well done for your event last week – I thought the presentations were fascinating; and was as always impressed with your organisation and promotion of the event.’

And it is just down to BEACON to say thank you to all our volunteers for your help and support over the last year, and may it continue for 2015.  We really couldn’t do it without you!

Thank You Awards - Best Basher

Jaya with her award for ‘Best Balsam Basher’. She bashed balsam all day at age 3, on the bash that was awarded the ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’!

 

Volunteer Surveyors Workshop – 11th December 2014

RDWP Training Attendees PhotoAs you may already know, BEACON has been granted Catchment Wise funding to support a project that focuses on the water quality of Birkin, Mobberley, Marthall and Sugar Brooks, in the western end of the Bollin catchment.   As part of this project, BEACON volunteers will carry out walkover surveys along the corridors of these brooks, to try and find out what the major causes of rural diffuse pollution are here.

Three training events have been held since the project started in October. One was held on Halloween to train volunteers to carry out walkover surveys and record incidents of diffuse pollution (you can read more about this training below). The training was recently repeated on 11th December and run by Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer. The day was less than kind, being cold and very wet, and so everyone was glad of the morning indoor session. Here volunteers learned about what diffuse pollution is, what causes it and the techniques used during a walkover to identify and record it. After a wonderful lunch, locally produced by Earlams Café in Styal, all the volunteers went to the Carrs in Wilmslow to put their new found walkover and recording skills to the test.

The Carrs Riverside Nine volunteers attended and practised their survey skills along the River Bollin. Everyone found the training informative and useful. One volunteer commented on Facebook: ‘It was a great day and an excellent presentation by you Sally. Thanks for hosting it’. A short refresher training session is being held in Bowdon for all volunteers in the New Year.

BEACON has now trained 27 volunteers carry out these walkover surveys, and so we are expecting results to start being submitted in the next few months.

For more information or to get involved in this survey project please contact Sally Potts, Project Officer, on 07825 115 303 or sally.potts@nationaltrust.org.uk

Catchment Walkover Tool

Walkover Tool Training

On 26th November a training session was held as part of BEACON’s Catchment Wise Diffuse Water Pollution Project.  This session was run by the Environment Agency to train volunteers on how to digitise the data we will be collecting from the walkover surveys being carried out along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks. 

The Environment Agency use a database called the Catchment Walkover Tool to collect walkover survey data in a standardised format, and then this database is used to create interactive maps and educational resources to illustrate the survey results. 

The volunteers really enjoyed the day, and we all learned some new IT skills as well as more about data input and sharing.  We just need to make sure we hire a warmer venue next time!

This Diffuse Water Pollution Project is not just a data collection exercise, as BEACON wants to achieve much more than this.  By the end of the year we will have trained approximatley 30 volunteers to input data and survey for Diffuse Water Pollution, providing these volunteers with skills and knowledge in areas of ecology, water quality, IT and science that they did not have before. 

We will also be using maps made from the Walkover Tool to educate and engage people on their land management practises and signpost them to other places where they can get help, advice and even funding. 

The next training session being held as part of this project is shown on the events page.  If you would like to get involved please contact us using this form.

Volunteer Surveyors Workshop – 31st October 2014

BEACON and APEM RDWP Training

(c) Derek Hatton

A Volunteer Surveyors Workshop was held at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, co-hosted by APEM and BEACON, on 31st October 2014.

There were indoor presentations given, and outdoor practical field visits and demonstrations held along the River Bollin at Styal and the Carrs.

There were 17 attendees on the day, with people from all backgrounds, with differing levels of knowledge attending.  There was also a great range of ages and interests too.

The purpose of the day was to train volunteers to conduct surveys for diffuse water pollution in rural areas.  BEACON has been fortunate enough to gain funding through the United Utilities Catchment Wise Fund to be able to conduct these surveys along Birkin, Rostherne, Sugar and Mobberley Brooks to determine where there are pollution problems.  BEACON also aims to raise awareness of these problems with farmers and landowners, in order to change attitudes and behaviours to improve the health of the brooks and connecting river.

RDWP Survey Training - 31-10-14

(c) Derek Hatton

All the volunteers that attended the workshop enjoyed the day.  The morning was spent indoors with Peter Dennis of APEM going over what diffuse pollution is, the problems it causes, what to look for and how to record this.

After a quick lunch, the afternoon was spent outside walking along the River Bollin at Styal and on into the Carrs at Wilmslow.  The volunteers practised looking for signs to show where there were problems, such as pipes, discouloured water and erosion of the riverbank.  They also practised recording thier findings and photgraphing these.

RDWP Survey Training - 31-10-14

(c) Derek Hatton

Diffuse pollution is the release of pollutants from a range of activities that individually may have no effect on the water environment, but at the scale of a catchment, such as the Bollin, can have a significant impact  on the water environment.  It can result in a reduction of water quality, a decrease in wildlife, riverbank erosion and so on.

Diffuse sources of pollution include run-off of chemicals, soil, tarmac from roads, houses and commercial areas.  BEACON is mainly surveying for diffuse pollution in rural areas so we will be looking at run-off from farmland, and land use activities such as livestock grazing, cultivation of land to grow crops and forestry operations.

All the volunteers really enjoyed the day and are looking forward to getting out onto the catchment and surveying.

RDWP Survey Training  - 31-11-14

(c) Derek Hatton

Farm Workshop – 1st October 2014

BEACON and Natural England Farm Workshop

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

Last week, BEACON and Natural England got together to host a Farm Workshop at Egerton Hall, Rostherne.  This workshop aimed to provide farmers with more information on the control of invasive non-native species, as well as water friendly farming and agri-environment schemes.  There were elements of indoor presentations and outdoor practical field visits and demonstrations held adjacent to Rostherne Mere.

Farm Workshop Rostherne

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

In the morning, the attendees went out to Rostherne Mere to look at practical demonstrations of how to control invasive species.  The group discussed how each control method works, and also non-chemical ways to control invasive non-native species.  Rupert, the Ranger at Rostherne Mere demonstrated their quad mounted spraying equipment, and Sally from BEACON showed the group how the stem injector works. 

Farm Workshop - Stem Injector

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

 

Farm Workshop - Quad mounted sprayer

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

Following lunch a short presentation was given to farmers on the effects of pollution on rivers and the different sources it can come from.  Everyone was very surprised about the polluting effects of milk!  There was lots of discussion and advice given on how to make sure your farm is working in a water friendly way.

There was another outdoor session in the afternoon to visit the areas of Rostherne Mere that aren’t publically accessible.  It was great to be able to go to places that are ordinarily closed, and Rupert gave a fantastic talk on what the issues are with managing the Mere and how he addresses these.  Himalayan balsam in the reed beds was a great cause for discussion.

Farm Workshop - Field Visit

In the feedback we got from the farmers they all enjoyed the day.  They found it useful to have different organisations there and see practical demonstrations given.  Everyone felt they had learned something they could apply to their work at home, which is a hugely positive outcome for BEACON, Natural England and most importantly the natural environment.