Monday, 23 August 2010

New book from Ian Llewellyn

SMAG member Ian Llewellyn (see the SMAG logo picture) has had a book about Kingfishers published by New Holland Publishers. It can be purchased from Amazon, Blackwells, Waterstones or from high street bookshops.

Here is the description from Amazon: Usually encountered as a flash of blue or orange seen from the riverbank, most people are aware of the Kingfisher, but few are familiar with the intricacies of its day-to-day life. Here its remarkable existence is celebrated through a series of stunning chapters with images depicting courtship, nesting, fishing, winter survival and other important events in the lives of Kingfishers, which are further brought to life through the eloquent accompanying text which is enlivened by personal anecdotes from the author and photographer. The book is the first in a series, and it will be followed by Peregrine Falcon and Barn Owl in March 2011.

David Chandler is based in Histon, Cambridge, and has worked for the RSPB and BirdLife International for nearly 20 years. He is now a freelance writer and ornithologist and has authored a number of titles, including the All About Bugs and All About Garden Wildlife for New Holland.

Ian Llewellyn is a professional photographer and cameraman who has worked on many documentaries for the BBC. He has been fascinated by Kingfishers for many years and spent many months studying and photographing them. He lives in Fishponds, Bristol.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

For Irene

One of Stapleton's longest residents and most committed naturalists, Irene Hockey, died recently. She was born in the area in 1921 and lived in the house she was born in for nearly all of her life. Irene was also my next door neighbour.

I wanted to put a little tribute to her on the blog because she has inspired many of the the things we have done in Snuff Mills Action Group. Irene used to tell me lots of stories about the area when I saw her and that was the inspiration behind the oral history project we are doing - sadly she died before we were able to interview her for the project.

It was also Irene who remembered the name of Grove Wood when everyone else had forgotten its name. Her husband, Hector, organised the first ever campaign to protect Grove Wood in the 1970s when he tried to stop the hospital from dumping their rubbish in the woods.

Irene loved Snuff Mills and especially Stoke Park before the motorway was built and she was one of the leading members of the original Stapleton Conservation Society and was heavily involved in the Bristol Naturalists Society too. There wasn't much about the area or wildlife that she didn't know and I know I will miss her encouragement and support.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Willow Felled

The weeping willow (see the main blog photo above) that used to grace the weir next to the Broomhill Bridge has now been removed at the request of the Environment Agency after a complaint from an unknown resident. It was blocking the flow because of the large amount of debris that was trapped beneath it. We believe this is reasonable but hope that the remaining stump will regenerate quite quickly into a more upright tree.

We assume the men who are doing the job have been hired by Mr Jafari. They are also removing the tree that almost fell onto the cafe a couple of years ago as it too was blocking the river. However it must be noted that they do not have a remit to carry out any further tree works.

We have had reports of walkers being subject to abuse by people who are working in the wood, one of whom is Mr Jafari's son. If this happens to you, please email or post something on our blog. See here for further details of these incidents.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Get off my land!

We had this report from a local person who was enjoying a walk through Grove Wood yesterday:

"Was taking a leisurely stroll along the upper path of Grove Wood this afto, with my friend Karen and Jack...thank goodness, when we were accosted by some bloke telling us this was a private footpath and we were trespassing! He said his name was John Meer? and his company owned it. Well, two Conservation Society women and Jack were no match for him, and he hurried on his way muttering about calling the Police!
What is the position with the compulsory purchase order? and do you know who John Meer is?
I am not easily scared but Karen was quite concerned for our safety! We did wonder if he may just have been a 'Patient' !"

John Mair is apparently the 'solicitor' for Housang 'chopper' Jafari, the landowner of Grove Wood. We think this is proof that the Council should hurry up and Compulsory Purchase Grove Wood as he clearly is not welcoming to visitors to this proposed nature reserve.

If you have any similar expeiences, please let us know so we can gather more evidence of such behaviour

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New benches for Snuff Mills

Our team of volunteers began installing the new benches in Snuff Mills today. The project is being led by Snuff Mills superhero Mark Logan who is really chuffed with how the new benches look.

Eleven benches will eventually be installed, some of them in quieter places so you can have a peaceful sit down. Each bench has been sponsored by different people and groups in the local community, usually in memory of a loved one, with match funding from The People's Millions. The second picture shows Keith and Sandra Ingham by the bench they sponsored. Keep an eye out for more benches as we put them in over the next few weeks.

Pathway resurfacing

UPDATE: The pathway resurfacing was completed today (Sat 7th August). It took a little longer than expected, but we hope that it now means that anyone that wants to can at least enjoy a circular walk to Halfpenny Bridge and back.

PREVIOUSLY: The contractor has been working to resurface the upper and lower paths in Snuff Mills all week. The area that floods close to Halfpenny Bridge has been resurfaced with a porous material in an attempt to stop this. The lower path by the river is now also now resurfaced with tarmac.

This People's Millions funded project has been done to make at least some of the valley more accessible to wheelchair users and other people with mobility problems. Work will continue to resurface the upper path and the stretch from the mill to where the paths split. In a few days it will not be possible to access the valley from Snuff Mills for a day or so. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope that you will agree the end result will be worth it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Houshang Jafari convicted of endangering an aircraft

Update 3rd August: Mr Jafari has been sentenced to 1 year in prison for this offence.
7th July: The landowner of Grove Wood (Mr Jafari) made the front page of the Evening Post and some national & even international newspapers after appearing in court charged with endangering a helicopter. He has since been found guilty by jury and will be sentenced on August 3rd. While this matter is not directly linked to Grove Wood, we think it will be of interest.

 07/07/2010 09/07/2010 13/07/2010 03/08/2010