What We Do
We have recently started our regular volunteer mornings again following the ease of lockdown restrictions, and it feels great to be back!
Typically, our regular management tasks include;
clearing invasive plant species such as Himalayan balsam, rhododendron and laurel to prevent them from out-competing native plants
sowing wildflower seeds
planting new trees
maintaining nest boxes (read more below).
We always welcome any extra pairs of hands and love to help the Rangers to coordinate external volunteer/activity days, such as corporate volunteering and school visits.
Colleagues from the Internal Audit department at Cheshire West and Chester Council helped to clear Himalayan Balsam on their corporate volunteer day at Rivacre Valley.
The FoRV group raises funds to improve the Reserve in a number of ways. We collect a small amount of money through our own schemes such as 'Adopt a Box' and coffee/cake mornings, but most of our larger projects require funding from external sources. As a community group, we can apply for grants from larger organisations.
We were awarded a substantial grant from Tesco Bags of Help in 2016 for our 'Rivacre Valley Improvement Project'. Some of this money went towards the new notice boards and signposting, the bird feeding area and several new benches.
"Adopt a Box" Scheme
FoRV is responsible for the monitoring and management of the 75+ bird boxes within the reserve, mostly occupied by blue, coal and great tits, nuthatches, robins and tree creepers. Our much appreciated and successful ‘Adopt a Box’ scheme is a great way to help contribute to the conservation efforts.
For a one-time donation of £10, we can put your box up in your favourite area so you know exactly where it is. You will also receive a certificate stating the location and a picture of the box in situ, and, as the season moves on, you'll receive exciting updates of the goings-on inside some of the nest boxes (see examples below).
Boxes can either be bought from local garden centres or we encourage you to have a go at making your own! Click here for a step-by-step guide from the RSPB.
The entrance hole size depends on the species you hope to attract:
25 mm for blue, coal and marsh tits;
28 mm for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers;
32 mm for house sparrows and nuthatches;
45 mm for starlings;
robins prefer open-fronted boxes.
Visit the ranger’s hut to drop off your bird box and make your donation. Directions and opening hours can be found here.
Note the interesting choice of nesting material - they like to strip tennis balls of the fluff to line their nests!
Steve repairing one of our nest boxes
Photo by Rob Pitt (2020)
FoRV partners with some incredible local charities, community groups and companies, and would like to publicly thank everyone who has donated time, money and resources to help with our mission. Special thanks go out to:
Men in Sheds Ellesmere Port, for building the owl boxes that are now home to some of the Reserve's owl population. Barn owls in particular have been classified by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust as a local priority species, so we are particularly thankful that they have been encouraged to nest in the area.
Round Table Ellesmere Port, who provided funding towards the new picnic area that was installed behind the ranger's hut last year.