Rackleaze Nature Reserve
Our monthly visits to the Rackleaze site in Cam have continued with work on boundary clearance next to the adjacent balancing pond (see above) and the making of a rustic bench from a fallen tree on-site. The picture here shows volunteers securing the finished wooden bench into the ground. It is hoped that there will be enough timber from the fallen tree to also make a small table that will be installed next to the bench. As we now move from summer through to autumn, we were very excited on our last visit to spot one of the resident grass snakes basking in late September sunshine. A lot of our work over the next few months will be focussed on the annual cutting and composting of comfrey that is growing on-site. This job helps us keep control of the comfrey which, if left untouched, would out compete other wildflowers at the wetland. There will also be an apple pressing day on 29 October.
For more info about work SVP are doing at the wetland site or how to get involved,contact Richard Lewis on
Monthly visits to the wetland site at Rackleaze in Cam have continued with further work carried out to improve access onto the boardwalk. We are installing a handrail along the footpath making it easier for visitors to access the site. We hope over the next month to upgrade the short footpath with top aggregate (stone to dust) to finish off the footpath section. We built a small dam (bund) on the field pond to keep more water in and this has worked well as the picture above of frogspawn shows (taken late February this year). Now, we hope that we may attract amphibians and other pond life to the pond.
If you live locally, go and have a look at the hedge laying that we carried out as part of an Adult Education week-long Hedge Laying for Beginners course. The students were taught the skills of processing hazel for stakes and heatherings (bindings that give the hedgerow support and structure), taught how to cut a ‘living hinge’ or pleach-cut to lay the hedgerow together with the skill of weaving in the hazel bindings. The students had fun constructing and creating a newly laid hedgerow.
Also look out for the Wetland Wonder Day planned in August this year.
For more information contact Richard on 01453 753358 or
Monthly visits to the wetland site at Rackleaze have continued with the final cutting of the grass footpaths before winter sets in. We have also worked on managing the bramble areas as well as some clearing out of built-up debris and silt in the feeder stream to the field pond on site. As we move into this winter phase of our work at the site, we hope - through consultation with our partners at Cam Parish Council - to make further improvements for wildlife and people.
Later this year we will be working around the pond area to build a small ‘bund’ or dam, where we believe it may leak water in the drier months of the year. If we can solve this leaking problem then the pond will hopefully hold water all year round, and in so doing create further opportunities for wildlife to flourish. For example, have a look at the great photograph of a Southern hawker which was taken by Paul Green.
Also at this time of year we will do the annual cut of comfrey although leaving some as it still provides an over-wintering habitat for insect larvae. The comfrey will be composted in large wooden bays constructed by our volunteers.
Further funding secured for the Rackleaze wetlands in Cam
Stroud Valleys Project has secured further funding to manage this wetland site thanks to Cam Parish Council agreeing a new and extended 3 year Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA commits both the parish council and SVP to maintain and further enhance this wildlife oasis for all the community to enjoy. As we move forward in partnership with the parish council, we hope to also secure more funding for small projects on-site such as the extension of the boardwalk, allowing members of the public access without wellington boots, thereby creating a short circular walk around the wetland reserve.
In August, SVP ran its annual Open Day Event where the public were invited to join in netting and identifying insects under the watchful eyes of Denise Gibbons and Barbara Wood (SVP’s own Wildlife Survey Team). At the event, display boards gave visitors an opportunity to see how positive but sensitive management was increasing opportunities for all wildlife.
From a wildlife point of view, we again found the Southern Marsh Orchid in the wet grassland area with the cutting and clearing of comfrey now under control. The grassland swards are diverse with numerous grassland species supporting an abundance of insect life, with frogs and a number of slow worms being observed, but sadly no signs of ‘Hissing Sid’ the grass snake.
Looking further in to the future, SVP hopes to talk with The Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust and The Herpetological Conservation Trust - both UK based charities established to further the conservation of amphibians and reptiles - with a view to learning survey techniques that may help us establish population numbers of amphibians found at the wetland.
Once again, ’thank you’ to Cam Parish Council for their continued financial support of our work at the wetland site, as well as the sterling efforts of a small band of volunteers who make Rackleaze Wetland the beautiful wildlife oasis that it is today.
A wildlife oasis in Cam
Stroud Valleys Project has continued its work in partnership with Cam Parish Council maintaining the Rackleaze wetland site over the summer months.
SVP now only visits the nature reserve twice a month in the summer and once a month in the winter. However, this has not halted the good work that is achieved by SVP and its volunteers who have been involved in creating new woody habitat piles, keeping both the public footpath and the nature reserve paths maintained for the public to enjoy, as well as keeping the site clear of litter, rubbish and dog muck!
Contractors visited the site for the annual cut of comfrey, cut late in the year to maximise its use for wildlife. Allowing the comfrey to grow and take over the site will have a negative effect on other smaller wild flowers and grasses. The comfrey will however grow back very rapidly once again providing its yearly food resource for insects and wildlife to enjoy.
Over the winter months we will start restoring the woody area and hedgerow that runs adjacent to the feeder stream by the field pond.
If anyone is interested in finding out more about the site or when SVP will next be at the reserve, contact Richard at SVP on 01453 753358 or email