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Installing a Tern raft

This morning the friends installed a tern raft for nesting. Please feel free to post any photos or sightings of any nesting activity spotted in the future.
You read read more about Terns at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tern and https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/common-tern
Thank you to everyone that turned out today to help and a special thank you to Andy Wood who without him this wouldn't have been possible.

tern raft 1
tern raft 2
tern raft 3
tern raft 4

Willow Weaving

A few photos from the Willow Weaving that took place on Saturday at Straw's Bridge.

willow weaving 1
willow weaving 2
willow weaving 3

The Path Has Been Raised

The level of the path has been raised under the archway and there is now access to the Nutbrook Ponds.

bridge path

Public Notice - Straw's Bridge

Work will begin w/c 30th January 2017 to resolve the flooding issues under the bridge between the front and back lakes for approximately 2 weeks.

warning sign

Butterfly Walk 2016 Success

The Straw’s Bridge butterfly and dragonfly walk was again a great success with more people than ever joining us. Thank you very much to our guide Jim Steele, the Butterfly Conservation Officer for Lowland Derbyshire. Here are some photos from the day:

Butterfly walk 2016 pic 1
Butterfly walk 2016 pic 2
Butterfly walk 2016 pic 3
Butterfly walk 2016 pic 4
Butterfly walk 2016 pic 5

Nutbrook Trail Wildlife BioBlitz

Sustrans, the charity which created the National Cycle Network, is running a series of events to try to find out what wildlife lives on local cycle paths around Ilkeston as part of our Greener Greenways project. They will be hosting a free fun, family friendly day on the Nutbrook Trail near the Straws Bridge Nature Reserve. There will be wildlife events including guided walks and activities, demonstrations and games. Everyone is welcome, from experts to beginners, although children should be accompanied by an adult.

For more information including where and when click here.

Bat Walk

Bat Walk

A Short Talk at Pewit Golf Course followed by a walk around Straw’s Bridge lakes with bat detectors. Suitable for children and adults. This is a free event but please contact Caroline.pollard@erewash.gov.uk Or Caroline Pollard 0115 907 2244 Extension 3889 to book places.

New Notice Board

New Notice Board

Thanks to Erewash Borough Council we now have a brand new notice board.

Disease Resistant Elms at Straw’s Bridge

Disease Resistant Elms 1
Disease Resistant Elms 2
Disease Resistant Elms 3
Disease Resistant Elms 4
Disease Resistant Elms 5
Disease Resistant Elms 6
Disease Resistant Elms 7
Disease Resistant Elms 8
Disease Resistant Elms 9
Disease Resistant Elms 10

With perfect timing for the start of National Tree week, the Friends helped out with the planting of six disease resistant elms at Straw’s Bridge on Sunday. Most elms were wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease, drastically reducing the habitat of the White-letter hairstreak butterfly. A project to plant these disease resistant trees has been organised by Jim Steele, Butterfly Conservation Officer for Lowland Derbyshire. A total of twenty one have now been planted in the area, including those at Straw’s Bridge.

Butterfly Walk Success

Butterfly walk

The Straw’s Bridge butterfly and dragonfly walk was a great success. Thank you very much to our guide Jim Steele, the Butterfly Conservation Officer for Lowland Derbyshire. The list of species seen on the walk where:

Large white
Small white
Green-veined white
Small tortoiseshell
Meadow brown
Small skipper
Large skipper
Holly blue
Small copper

Brown hawker
Common darter
Black-tailed skimmer
Common blue damselfly
Azure blue damselfly
Blue-tailed damselfly
Banded demoiselle

Join our group on facebook to learn about other upcoming events.
Butterfly walk

A Female Common Blue Damselfly seen on the walk.
Female Common Blue Damselfly

Green Flag Award

green flag award flag

The Straw’s Bridge Local Nature Reserve has for the first time just been awarded the Green Flag Award. Green Flag Award® applications are judged against eight key criteria.
1. A welcoming place
2. Healthy, safe and secure
3. Clean and well maintained
4. Sustainability
5. Conservation and heritage
6. Community involvement
7. Marketing
8. Management
green flag award logo

Butterfly Walk

Visit Straw’s Bridge on Sunday August 2 and meet the Friends. Starting at 1pm the Friends will be selling wildlife related items to raise funds for small projects. They will also be handing out free corn for feeding to the birds. Corn kindly donated by Chambers pet Supplies of Bath Street.

At 2pm you will be able to join a guided BUTTERFLY WALK around Straw’s Bridge Local Nature Reserve.

It’s corny but true!

The Friends of Straw’s Bridge will be giving out some free corn this summer. Come and find them at these events:

Stanton Road Cemetery Open Day, Saturday 27 June
Kirk Hallam Lakeside Festival, Sunday 5 July
West Hallam Well Dressings, Saturday 11 July.

Get a free bag of corn to feed the birds at Straw’s Bridge (while stocks last!). CORN KINDLY SUPPLIED BY CHAMBERS PET SUPPLIES, BATH ST. ILKESTON.

Meeting Update - June 2015

On Thursday 11 June the Fosbies held their quarterly meeting when the next stage of the collaboration with the Tesco Community Champions was agreed. The plan is to put up nest boxes for different species of birds in time for spring 2016. Tesco will provide the materials and the boxes will be designed and made by members of the group. Tesco will also provide bird feeders to be installed in late September and maintained over the winter until March.

Sadly there have been several reports of dogs going into the ponds and disturbing nesting birds and their young. Dog owners are asked not to allow their pets in the water at any time and especially during the breeding season.

There is no further news on the mobile catering facility.

There is still time to book a place on the bat walk to be held on the evening of Monday 27 July. Contact Caroline Pollard on 907 2244, ext. 3889 for further details.

Green Flag Award - June 2015

The Green Flag Award is a Department of Communities and Local Government scheme managed by the Keep Britain Tidy group. Erewash Borough Council has applied for the award for Straw’s Bridge, and on Wednesday 10 June the judges paid a visit to carry out their assessment. They are looking for a well managed site which is welcoming, safe, clean and well maintained. Other criteria relate to sustainability, conservation, heritage and community involvement. Members of the Friends group joined council officials and judges for a tour of the site and to explain the part they play in looking after Straw’s Bridge. The result of the judging will be announced in July.

June Litter Pick - June 2015

The Friends of Straw’s Bridge were joined on Wednesday by a group of employees from Tesco, Ilkeston, to carry out a clean up around Erewash’s two new Local Nature Reserves, Straw’s Bridge and Manor Floods. It was also an opportunity to trim back some overhanging branches alongside the paths. Tesco’s Community Champions have formed a partnership with FOSB and together they are planning future projects and activities.

LNR & Green Flag - March 2015

The recent news that Straw’s Bridge and neighbouring Manor Floods have been declared as Local Nature Reserves brings the total number of LNRs in Erewash to a remarkable total of twelve. This new status will not change things overnight and visitors will not see much difference, but it does bring with it a greater level of protection for both sites into the future. The Borough Council are also working towards the prestigious Green Flag award for Straw’s Bridge and any announcement on this can be expected this summer.

The Friends of Straw’s Bridge - November 2014

There is much activity at Straw’s Bridge at the moment, and it’s not just the wildlife.

Work has started on the flood protection scheme, which involves raising the height of the existing dam between the two smaller ponds (the Nutbrook Ponds) and Pewit Carr. The dam follows the former course of the viaduct which carried the Great Northern Railway line.

While excavating part of the site workmen came across an electricity cable running parallel with an old railway line from Stanton which went under the viaduct. Western Power were contacted, but they had no record of a cable at this point. Two of their operatives tested the cable and found it to be inactive. It had once carried 33,000 volts and probably supplied collieries further up the line as well as West Hallam Screens. The excavation also revealed some of the remaining brickwork from the viaduct.

All of this is a reminder of how much the landscape in this area has changed, even since the 1960’s.

On the Straw’s Bridge site itself the Friends have cut down some of the willow on the far bank of the big pond. This is so that the resulting new growth next year can be used for a willow weaving project.

The catering van which has been in the car park since July is to remain until March next year when Erewash Borough Council will evaluate the scheme and decide whether it will continue. It is fair to say that opinion is divided. A recent meeting of the Friends of Straw’s Bridge was unanimously opposed to the idea.

On a less controversial note a Garganey was spotted recently, presumably on a stop-over en route to Africa for the winter.


If you had been down at Straw’s Bridge on Monday evening, 18 August, you would have come across a group of people clutching small hand held devices which emitted some weird crackling sounds. Not mobile phones with poor reception, but bat detectors. They were picking up the sounds of Common Pipistrelle bats navigating their way around the site and homing in on their prey. Then the Daubentons bats came out. The group were able to pick them out in their torch beams as the bats skimmed the surface of the ponds catching the insects that make up their diet. The evening had started with an introductory talk in the Pewit Golf Course Pavilion by members of the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Trust. Everyone then made their way to Straw’s Bridge to see and hear the evening’s action. This was the first bat walk held by the Friends of Straw’s Bridge, and it was a great success. It also confirmed the view that there is a lot of bat activity there and it is likely that other species will be identified in future. The next step is for the Bat Conservation Group to inspect the bat boxes installed earlier this year to determine whether they are occupied.

Please help us

Have you seen our Barn Owl – Bonnie
Missing since Saturday 16 August in the Kirk Hallam area.
Last seen around Ladywood Road area.
Small reward for safe return.
Please look up into trees, out buildings, around chimney pots/roof tops, trees in your garden. She would usually be asleep during the day, feeding at dawn and dusk, but if she feels hungry she may come down to people if he associates them with food. She won’t hurt you, if you can catch her – please do, easier to approach her from the back and put your hands around her keeping her wings to his body (firm but gentle please) and the beak and talons away from you - but don’t frighten her away, just call us if that’s easier and we’ll get to you immediately
Please contact Lesley or Dave - 01159 305587 or 07773 680 264 or email Robinsonartworks@btinternet.com

New signs at Straw's Bridge

Over the next few weeks some of the old signs will be coming out and new ones going up. Here is the new map sign.

Workday at Straw's Bridge

The Friends had a busy morning at Straw's Bridge on Saturday April 12. The barley straw which had been floating in the main pond since this time last year was replaced. The old straw was waterlogged and half rotted, so it was not an easy job to drag it out. The Friends began using this method of preventing the occurrence of blue green algae a few years ago and it seems to have been successful. This year two floating islands were also towed out into the middle of the pond and secured with anchors. These islands will be used by birds, and it will be interesting to see which species take advantage of them.

Barley Straw and Floating Islands

The Friends will be out in force on Saturday 12 April when they will be performing the annual  DUNKING OF THE BARLEY STRAW CEREMONY. This is fast becoming a local tradition on a par with the Ashbourne Shrovetide Football Game, with thousands turning up to watch… well not quite, but if you are down at Straw’s Bridge between about 10 am and noon (it might take longer!) you’ll see what it’s all about. Weather permitting the gazebo will be up and Straw’s Bridge merchandise will be on sale. There are some fantastic new bird and bug boxes available as well as other smaller items connected with Straw’s Bridge and the natural world.

As Andy is bringing along the boat the Friends will also be towing out two floating islands into the middle of the main pond for use by the birds.


Bat Boxes

Following on from the visit by Sarah and Alison from the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Trust back in February two of the Friends have made some bat boxes and on Saturday eight were fixed to trees around the main pond. More will be put up later in the year near the Nutbrook Ponds on the other side of the old railway embankment.  The  Trust will carry out periodic monitoring  to determine whether the boxes are being used.

Watch this space for details about a Bat Walk to be organised in August.


Bat Boxes

On Saturday 22 February the Friends were visited by Sarah and Alison of the Derbyshire Bat Trust. It is known that bats feed at Straw's Bridge, the ponds providing plenty of insect life, but it is not clear whether any roost there. Most of the trees are not mature enough to offer much in the way of suitable sites. The Friends therefore decided that it would be a good idea to install some bat boxes. Sarah and Alison were there to advise on the construction of bat boxes and where and how to fix them. The group carried out a survey of the site and identified a number of trees where boxes could be placed. This will start in April and boxes will be made and installed gradually over the next year or two. The Bat Trust will monitor the boxes to observe how much use they get and by which species. It is hoped that an evening bat walk, open to the public, will be organised this summer. The group also took the opportunity to try out their new gazebo. They said it would never fly - but it nearly did! Only the brave efforts of several Friends prevented lift-off. The gazebo is fine, but some longer tent pegs are probably needed. The famous Straw's Bridge merchandise made its first appearance of 2014, with several bird boxes and many smaller items being sold. The event was not advertised to the public, but as it was a sunny Saturday the car park was full and quite a few people called in at the stall.

Workday at Straw’s Bridge, Saturday 19 October.

The Friends spent a couple of hours opening up a view across the main pond by removing some of the bushes on the bank. There are three benches close together along the path at this point and visitors using them will see the difference.  Several members of the public made encouraging and supportive comments, and it is good to know that the efforts of the group are appreciated.

A survey of the site revealed no pressing problems and the small amount of litter was soon cleared.


Saturday October 19 at 10 a.m. The Friends will be carrying out some work on site. The main task will be to cut some "windows" in the vegetation around the main pond so that visitors using the benches will be able to enjoy the views.

If you would like to help you will be most welcome. Tools and protective gloves will be provided. Meet us in the car park at 10 a.m. We aim to finish by noon.

Thursday 31 October at 3 p.m. The Erewash Village Games Coordinator is organising a Halloween Family Fun Run (jog or walk!) starting and finishing at Straw’s Bridge. The event is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. £2 per person, free for the under 3s. Halloween fancy dress is encouraged.

Contact Toni Jantschenko on 07584 856292 or email toni@villagegames.org.uk. Also on Facebook.com/erewashvillagegames.


Friends win East Midlands in Bloom Award.

Straw’s Bridge is, of course, in West Hallam, and not Ilkeston, as many people believe. Even the judges in the East Midlands in Bloom made this mistake. They did get something right though: on September 11 they announced a Special Judges’ Award for the Friends group. The award is in recognition of the group’s dedication to the development of the site as a centre for wildlife conservation and a visitor destination. This is very gratifying for the group as they regard the maintenance of a balance between these two aspects of the site as a priority.

Three members of the group went along to collect the award from the Mayor of Erewash at Morley Hayes on Friday 11 October, when the Borough Council held its annual Erewash in Bloom awards ceremony.




Saturday 13 July was in the middle of the heat wave and a great multitude descended on West Hallam for the annual Well Dressing. Many of the visitors came along to the Friends’ stall and helped them to raise more than £250 for future projects. Top selling items included Straw’s Bridge key rings, coasters and fridge magnets and the new range of bird boxes, bird feeders and bug hotels. The stock of these items, designed and made by a member of the group, sold out completely before the afternoon was over. They are continuing to sell as fast as Ted can make them!



The Friends, including a couple of new volunteers, spent the morning of August 3 working on site. They picked litter and lopped some overhanging branches which were obstructing the paths around the ponds. Most visitors to Straw’s Bridge are responsible people and take care not to leave litter, but there is always some. In fact sometimes the guilty parties are not human but avian. There have been reports of birds (rooks or crows usually) pulling plastic bags out of the bins in the search for food! What is the difference between a rook and a crow? Straw’s Bridge resident bird expert says "If you see a rook on its own it’s probably a crow. Several crows together are probably rooks."



A visit to EBC Planning Department has revealed some interesting facts about Straw’s Bridge’s past. Eventually the Friends hope to produce a brief history of the site. Anyone with memories, information or photographs they would like to share is asked to email friendsofstrawsbridge@erewash.gov.uk in the first instance.


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