I am very sorry to announce that Simon Taylor has stepped down as Stithians Warden. Simon has stepped down for many reasons including vandalism at the hides.
We are very grateful to Simon for his dedication and commitment to the Stithians Reserve. He has held the office of Stithians Warden since 2007, and during that time he has worked tirelessly (and, sadly, without a great deal of support from fellow members) to manage and promote the site. As well as collating the information about sightings at Stithians, and writing the quarterly reports for Palores, he has done an exceptional amount of “hands-on” management.
This includes regularly clearing the area in front of the Stuart Hutchings hide, and the value of the Southern cut-off hide in particular has been transformed by his efforts. Each Autumn he has cleared the succession growth of willow from in front of the hide and around the feeders. If left unchecked, this would have cut off, almost completely, views of open water from the Southern cut-off hide. He also promoted a scheme to dig out channels, scrapes and pools to retain open water in front of the Southern cut-off hide. While this has not yet been implemented it has not been abandoned, and South West Lakes Trust (“SWLT”) have recently agreed to revisit the possibility of getting funding for contractors to carry out this work.
Another of Simon’s initiatives was “A Day for Nature” where he approached the CBWPS committee and SWLT for approval to host an Open Day at Stithians, the intention being a gathering of the County’s top conservation groups to promote awareness and generate further interest in conservation after the event.
Simon instigated the feeders near the hide which have proved such an attraction for several Winters, and brought in sightings and photo-opportunities of Marsh Tits, Bramblings, Water Rail and large numbers of commoner species. The Society were approached by Simon in 2009 to sponsor him for £100 to start a nest box scheme at Stithians. The CBWPS gave him the money, the first boxes were put up with Simon funding once again out of his own pocket any replacement boxes needed through Woodpecker damage. Although not connected to Stithians this further led Simon to pay for the construction of another 90 boxes nearer to home. He funded the materials from his own pocket to set up and concrete in the feeder frames, supplied the feeders themselves (only the seed and nuts being funded by the Society) and kept the feeders filled through successive Winters. Many members will not realise what an undertaking this has been. The feeders require filling every other day during the Winter, and daily during spells of hard weather, and to date no support has been forthcoming from members of the Society to share that burden.
Owing to Simon’s standing down, that situation has to change.
We are fortunate that some hands-on management will now be provided by South West Lakes Trust. Their local Reserve Warden, Chris Hardman, has a team of volunteers who have recently carried out this Autumn’s willow clearance and are in principle willing to undertake other tasks. Unfortunately, there has been a succession of incidents of trespass and mindless vandalism in and around the hides, and there is now a good deal of repair work, which we hope will be carried out by the SWLT volunteers with the Society funding the cost of materials. Chris and his volunteers have already removed the graffiti from the Southern cut-off hide, and are willing to do so from the Stuart Hutchings hide unless the suspected culprits are willing to remove it themselves by way of “restorative justice”. The SWLT team will also renew the woodstain and repair the roof, the Society having provided the cost of materials.
There is, however, an urgent need for volunteers for the following roles:-
1. For the role of Stithians Warden. This will not now involve the maintenance work, which will now be undertaken by SWLT, but will still involve collecting and disseminating information about the reserve, including the quarterly reports in Palores, and also fielding any enquiries from members or others regarding the Stithians Reserve.
2. Volunteers – at least 2 in number – to fill the feeders at Stithians. Currently we have 2 volunteers (willing to cover Mondays and Fridays) but the feeders need filling every couple of days, and daily in hard weather. Chris Hardman of SWLT is one of those volunteers. However, two volunteers are not enough, and unless more volunteers come forward willing to fill the feeders on one or more days each week this facility (which has not only provided such an attraction but also sustained a population of birds which might otherwise have struggled to get through the hard Winter months) will unfortunately come to an end.
Will anyone willing to assist in either role please contact board member Greg Adams on 01326 572951 (work) or 07770 638443 (mobile).