Big Lottery Fund
Friends of Troopers Hill were delighted to learn of their largest grant award to date when the post brought news from the Big Lottery Fund in early October 2006.
The award of £9,984 is from the Big Lottery Fund Breathing Places programme. This scheme complements the BBC Breathing Places campaign which aims to encourage more people to get involved in their local green spaces.
Our award was for a project to run until October 2007 aiming to increase public involvement and improve the management of Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve for wildlife. A large part of the money was used to produce leaflets to help publicise the site. We also commissioned a series of surveys to increase our knowledge of the site's wildlife and to ensure that the management tasks we undertake at Work Parties are appropriate.
There were lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved, including a 'Bugs and Beasties' event in the summer for all the family and there will be an exhibition in September. We also held a series of workshops to help learn to identify the many different flora and fauna that thrive in the unique environment on Troopers Hill.
The application was put together by Rob, our Works Party Organiser. He would like to thank everyone who was involved in putting together the application in a very short time earlier in the summer, especially our treasurer Val who ensured all the necessary paperwork got through in time. Thanks also to Sally Oldfield our Local Nature Reserves Officer at Bristol Parks who agreed to act as our independent referee and gave us valuable advice and contacts.
The money was awarded for specific activities that were set out in the application form and had to be spent by 29th October 2007. The section below describes the different parts of the project and shows how the money was spent. In accordance with the rules of the grant the total in each category varied slightly from the award, the total spent was £9,996.22
Flora and Fauna Recognition Workshops
These workshops were run by Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) during the summer of 2007. The workshops aimed to increase participants knowledge of the site and allow them to have more input into decisions about habitat management tasks. It will also allow Friends of Troopers Hill to make species records and to help keep track of changes on the reserve over time. We have purchased some plant and invertebrate indentification books and charts as well as some hand lenses so that we can build on our knowledge now that the workshops have been completed.
Five workshops were held:
May 31st Thursday 7-9pm Plants
June 24th Sunday 3-5pm Invertebrates
Aug 19th Sunday 3-5pm Pond visit, amphibians and reptiles. (Eastwood Farm)
Aug 23rd Thursday 6.30-8.30pm Heathland
Aug 29th Weds 6.30-8.30pm Birds
Here is a report on the on the first session:
"Tonight was plants - which was great. We were shown how to use plant books with keys to identify our plants. We then sat in an area above Sally's glade split into two groups and worked our through identifying a number of plants learning as we went along. Eyeglasses were supplied and clipboards for doing drawings. It was extremely good and I think a couple of extra books are going to be added to the FOTH library. New plants for me tonight were the lesser trefoil, sheeps sorrel and heath bedstraw (which I should have known as it is on our wonderful new leaflet). I would not have recognised golden rod without its flowers without this course.
The list of species that we found on the second 'Invertebrates' session can be found here. With the White legged Damselfly being perhaps the most unexpected.
For our session looking at amphibians and reptiles we visited Eastwood Farm just over the river. Although we didn't actually see any amphibians or reptiles we learnt a lot about the type of environment they prefer. We focused particularly on the lagoon and considered whether it would be suitable for Great Crested Newts, the presence of fish seemed to be the only negative factor. While pond-dipping we found this, which we believe to be an elver.
The Heathland session saw us marking out 'quadrats' on Troopers Hill and looking at the different species that could be found within each 4m square. We concluded that the Heathland on Troopers Hill differs slightly from typical heathland, with a much larger range of other species found amongst the bell heather and ling due to the small size of the site.
At the final session on birds 18 different species were recorded, somethrough sightings and some through identification of their song. As with all these sessions the emphasis was not on learning identification features for each different species but on learning the techniques that allow indentification to be made. Our thanks to Nick Hudson, Tim Corner and everyone else at BRERC who made this such an enjoyable series of events.
Bugs and Beasties Event for Children
We are very keen that local children learn to appreciate how special Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve is and why it should be looked after.
The Bugs and Beasties Event was similar to the very successful event we held in 2004; but, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, bigger and better!
We again invited Rupert Higgins of Wessex Ecological Consultancy to lead the bug hunt. There were also many other activities for children of all ages to get involved and to learn more about Troopers Hill's smallest inhabitants.
A full report and photos from this very successful event can be seen on our Events page.
This is probably the most important part of the project. We have designed a set of three leaflets, the main one is A3 and describes the general information about the hill and gives details of its wildlife. Two supporting A4 leaflets give further detailed information on the history and the geology of the site. You can see a low resolution copy of the leaflets here or please Contact Us if you would like a printed copy.
These leaflets have a dual purpose, first they will enable us to raise the profile of the site locally by placing them in libaries and schools. Secondly we will be able to distribute them at events to help make sure that visitors to the site fully appreciate its importance for wildlife and its historical context.
The leaflets were designed by Clare Chalice of dandi creative design. Following an initial meeting to agree how the design would be managed and to agree timescales we held open meetings on 7th December and 8th Februrary to agree the outline content, design brief and then text details for the main leaflet. The final tweaks were discussed via our Forum and at our regular meetings. By working with Bristol Parks who were designing an interpretation board for the site at the same time we were able to add more illustrations than originally intended - we hope you like the result.
An initial meeting to agree the outline design for the history & geology leaflets was held on 19th June and the design for both leaflets was then developed by Clare. Further discussions on the drafts were held at our meetings, events and work parties through July and August. Drafts were also posted on this website and comments invited through the Friends' Forum.
To ensure that Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve is being managed in the best interests of its wildlife it is necessary to undertake regular surveys to establish the range of species present. Tasks at Work Parties can then be focused on those that will have the most benefit.
In consultation with Bristol Parks' Local Nature Reserves Officer, Sally Oldfield, it was agreed that the priorities were to survey nesting birds, badgers and invertebrates.
Friends of Troopers Hill commissioned Penny Lewns of The Badger Consultancy to carry out the first survey during this winter. The survey of nesting birds has been carried out by Rupert Higgins of Wessex Ecological Consultancy and the text can be downloaded from the link below. Contact Us if you would like to see the associated maps. David Gibbs completed the invertebrate survey with site visits on on 19 April, 24 May, 19 June & 18 July. The four visits of yielded 262 species of which 30 are considered to be of conservation significance and 6 have RDB or equivalent status. This was excellent news and confirms that Troopers Hill is one of the best sites for invertebrates in the area. The report can be downloaded from the link below.
2007 Bird Nesting Report by Rupert Higgins (text only)
David Gibbs 2007 Invertebrate Survey
Publicity, Meetings and Exhibition
To give as many people as possible the chance to get involved in the project we publicise all our events and work parties locally through posters and events leaflets.
We will also held meetings to allow as many people as possible to participate in the project and in particular in the design process for the leaflets. In September 2007 we held an exhibition on Troopers Hill Field to further raise the profile of the hill amongst local people. The exhibition was planned to be held in a local hall but thanks to the offer of a loan of a large tent from Forest of Avon we were able to move the venue on to the site itself. The money that we originally intended to use on the hire of the hall has therefore been reallocated to an additional gazebo and two toilet tents.
This part of the grant has also been used to pay for publicity materials and room hire. Fortunately some of our volunteers have donated paper and ink, we also managed to get some free publicity by getting letters published in the Evening Post, hence we have been able to reduce our spending under this heading.
Additional tools for use at Work Parties
Work Parties on Troopers Hill are the most enjoyable part of our activities. As well as improving the environment of the hill, we have a good time and get some exercise in the fresh air.
We have had more people involved this year, both by increasing attendance at the regular first Saturday of the month work parties and by running mid-week events for those who are not free at weekends. We also arranged workdays with the Groundforce Project based in the adjacent Community at Heart area of Barton Hill, Redfield and The Dings.
The money from the grant has been used to purchase additional tools to ensure we can provide them to everyone who wants to take part. For details of future Work Parties and photos and descriptions of what we have done in the past see our Work Parties page. Please come and join us at a Work Party, we are sure you will enjoy it.