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Nature Reserve Newsletter - March 2019

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£468 a year and rising

Our supporters who buy an Essex lottery weekly £1 ticket are now earning us £468 a year. This is very important to us because, unlike grant-aid for specific projects, we can spend it on whatever is the most important need at the moment. Of the 12 Essex Lottery-supported good causes in Uttlesford only one (Friends of Newport Primary School) gets more support than us.

Our target is 50 tickets a week bought by our supporters: that would earn us £1352 a year and cover much of our regular running costs.

PLEASE buy a ticket (or, if you already have, tell your friends about supporting us this way)

Just click the advert below and find out more. Thank you.


barn owl

Barn Owls

at Kings Field

A barn owl has been seen hunting (and catching) voles in our Kings Field nature reserve. Jeremy Davidson, who has made over 800 bird-boxes for wildlife sites in our area, has made us a splendid barn owl box and erected it in one of the trees at Kings Field.

Barn Owl boxes for use outdoors (i.e. not in a barn) are one of the most difficult, and heavy, bird boxes to make. The photo shows Jeremy fixing his box in a Kings Field tree in late February.

It is probably too late to attract a breeding pair of owls this year but we hope a young bird may use it as a roosting site and then decide to breed there in the future.

[barn owl photo from Wikipedia commons]

barn owl box

Who owns your Local Wildlife Sites?

There are over 150 designated Local Wildlife Sites in the Walden Countryside (north Uttlesford) area and most of them are ancient woodlands with a rich spring show of wild flowers. A few of the large ones (like the Forestry Commission's Rowney, Bendysh and Little Hales Woods) are fully open to the public but the great majority are privately owned land with, at best, a public footpath along the edge or through the middle. Together they cover over 1000 hectares – almost 30 times the area covered by local EWT and Walden Countryside nature reserves.

These sites were identified and designated as important for wildlife in 1994 and about half of them were surveyed again twelve years ago. It is important that they are looked at again. It seems the Essex Wildlife Trust no longer have staff to do this work so we hope Walden Countryside supporters can help.

Take a look at the list of all the sites in your parish – most are woodlands but some are roadside verges rich in wild flowers or other non-woodland habitats. There are maps of each site so you can easily identify where they are.

Do you know (or can you find out) the name and contact details of the owner? If so, please let us know, so we can seek permission to visit their land. If you have permission yourself to make a visit, please download our survey form and make a survey of the site yourself. Late March to May is the best time to survey woodlands for their wildflowers. Please make the time to visit your local countryside sites and tell us what you find.


Dates for your Diary 1

Work parties at Noakes Grove

Preparing the site after our winter management work for the spring and summer wildlife and for our visitors to enjoy

We will be concentrating on widening the rides a bit, to let in the sunlight and the humans. Please come and help

Sunday 17th March        10.00 - 4.00pm

Sunday 14th April        10.00 - 4.00pm

Dates for your Diary 2

Sunday May 12th 10:00am – 4:00pm – Redgates Lane, Sewards End

“Spring is Sprung” at Noakes Grove Nature Reserve

Family day : bring your kids (or grandkids) and let them “go wild” (or just come on your own)

Free entry & parking – donations welcome, we suggest £5 per car or family group


Date for your Diary 3

Back by popular demand and

drumming-up more support


Sunday May 26th - 5.00 to 7.00 pm

Drumming at Noakes Grove

  • With Lynn Holland and Sue Healey 

  • Tune-in to Nature with the rhythm of the Drum

  • Learn rhythms in a drum circle around a bonfire

  • No musical experience necessary

  • Drums are supplied but if you have your own hand-drum please bring it along. 

  • Places are limited 

  • The event will go ahead subject to dry weather.

  • Please bring:  A fold-up chair and water. 

  • Donations: We suggest £5 which will go towards the management of the Nature Reserve.

Please email: if you wish to come


Hold your child's birthday party at Noakes Grove

birhday parties: click for full details

Also for children: relaxation and mindfulness sessions - Easter - click for details


Situations Vacant

We have highly valued teams of volunteers who do habitat management work with the work parties and who visit and feed our sheep every day of the year. Here are a few new volunteering opportunities:

Tractor mechanic: our 40-year-old ZETOR tractor needs someone with experience of classic farm machines to keep it working and, maybe, start to restore it to its former glory.

Naturalists: if you are a bird-watcher, wild-flower enthusiast, butterfly photographer or can wield a bat-detector we'd love you to visit one of our reserves regularly and give us records of what you find there. You might also be willing to act as a naturalist guide on occasional open days.

Book-keeper: happy with word-processors, spread-sheets and the internet? Would you be willing to help us maintain our financial records, claim our grants and make our tax returns? Go on, you will enjoy it really and we'll be ever so grateful.

Email if you might be able to help.



Friends of Walden Countryside

Our Friends help in two main ways: by helping on work-parties, sheep-care or with administrative tasks and/or by making donations to help pay for our work. To become a friend we ask you to make a donation at least once a year (you choose how much - most people give £5-£10). To become a friend (or give another donation) just visit : Friends of Walden Countryside. To find out more about getting directly involved with our work just email