The Alex West hide will be closed for a school visit from 10am until 2.30 pm on Monday, 9th June. The woodland hide will remain open. We’re sorry for any temporary inconvenience.
Clara Vale is fortunate to currently have an artist in residence. Helen Collard is spending time here, supported by Monfish Production and Arts Council England, working on a project about creating art in non-arts spaces to make site-specific and site responsive work.
Found Sound is a new sound piece inspired by Clara Vale, the village and its people. Experience the soundscape of the familiar: the hidden and some imagined sounds of Clara Vale in the unique, intimate setting of the Alex West hide in the Nature Reserve, including the dawn chorus, Barbaras bees, pond life, electromagnetic fields and electric currents from plant life, all of which are combined with human voice and piano to make a special piece unique to Clara Vale.
The Alex West bird hide is small and quiet evening setting, and there are four slot times for the perfomance on 30th March, meet at the Village Hall, 6:10pm (sold out), 6:50pm, 7:30pm, 8:10pm.
Please meet at the village hall 20 minutes before your allocated time to register your arrival for the event. Refreshments will be served!
Please wear warm, comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking on muddy or uneven paths. All children and young people under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
There was a great turnout for our mini-event in support of the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, with more than 20 children from Clara Vale and Crawcrook, along with their families, joining us in the nature reserve. Everyone made a bird feeder and got a spotter sheet to take home, entice the birds and count them in their own gardens. Click any image below to enlarge:
We had a good session counting the maximum of any one species in during one hour from both the Reserve hides and we made sure we didn’t double-count!
Mallard – 10
Blue Tit – 7
Great Tit – 5
Coal Tit 2
Long Tailed Tit – 3
Willow Tit – 1
Jackdaw – 1
Bullfinch – 2
Jay – 2
Blackbird – 13
Robin – 4
Tree Sparrow – 8
Chaffinch – 6
Dunnock – 1
Moorhen – 4
Yellowhammer – 10
Magpie – 2
Pheasant – 1
Stock Dove – 5
Brambling – 1
We were also very grateful for the donations we received, all of which will go towards the upkeep of the Reserve, thank you!
Once again the Conservation Group are supporting this national event and invite you to join us this coming weekend on Saturday 26th January in the Clara Vale Nature Reserve, when we identify and count the birds we see for one hour between 10:30 and 11:30am.
There will be free refreshments (and no doubt some irresistible cake), plus a couple of free childrens’ activities too.
You don’t have to count the birds yourself and there will be one or two keen birdwatchers on hand to help you identify the birds you see – both the Alex West and Woodland hides will be available and we’ll have free loan binoculars to use.
We don’t make any charges for this volunteer-run event, however any donations are welcome and all go to the upkeep of the Reserve and bird sanctuary.
The Conservation Group is pleased to announce that the Northumbria Bird Ringing Group will be visiting the Reserve on the first Saturday of each month from November 2018 until April 2019 inclusive. They will be catching birds in both feeding stations but will be ringing the birds in the Woodland hide.
They will be ringing from 8 a.m. until around noon, please note that the Alex West hide will be closed during these times.
This is important scientific work which helps us understand, for example, how populations of birds change, their migration patterns, breeding success or failure. If you want to find out more and see birds very close up, go along to the Woodland hide and talk to the ringers, you will be very welcome.
The first ringing session will be on Saturday, November 3 rd . If it is raining or very windy the session may not take place.
For more information on bird ringing, visit The British Trust for Ornithology:
Just a reminder that the Gone Cuckoo event is this Thursday 24th May in Clara Vale Village Hall, doors open 7pm. It promises to be an entertaining social evening, tickets available at the door, free interval snacks included, bring your choice of refreshments
The Clara Vale Conservation Group are delighted to present father and son duo Malcolm and Joshua Green, who bring their delightful and thought provoking tour performance to Clara Vale. Collaborating together with music and stories Malcolm and Joshua tell the Cuckoo’s tale of a fascinating journey across Europe, the Sahara and subtropical Africa.
We were delighted with the turnout for this community event in the nature reserve on Sunday 28th January.
Conservation Group members set up a stall in the Reserve, offering free refreshments, cake and biscuits, which seemed to be a good incentive for visitors to come and take part in observing the birds in the reserve at both the hides. There was a steady stream of families, and children enjoyed making their own bird feeders using very sticky lard and peanut butter, mmmm…. (see images below). There was some storytelling too.
Despite the blustery conditions, there was a good bird count, the highlight being a group of 11 Yellowhammers who swooped down to feed in front of the Woodland hide.
Full results for the RSPB one hour bird count are below and have been submitted to their database. But first, take a look at a few of the images from a super community morning gathering, click on any image to enlarge and scroll:
Final count for the Big Garden Birdwatch, Clara Vale Nature Reserve:
Tree sparrow – 15
Blue tit – 5
Great tit – 3
Long tailed tit – 1
Coal tit – 1
Robin – 3
Bullfinch – 2
Chaffinch – 6
Pheasant – 6
Mallard – 7
Nuthatch – 2
Magpie – 1
Moorhen – 3
Kingfisher – 1
Yellowhammer – 11
Wren – 1
Dunnock – 2
These are combined for the 2 hides with the maximum numbers taken so we’ve not double counted. Also 3 roe deer seen.
We’d also like to thank those people who donated a total of £16.60 to our funds.
Join in with us at the Clara Vale Nature Reserve, as once again we take part in the this national birdwatching event on Sunday 28th January 2018 between 10:30am and 12:00 noon.
The idea is to count the maximum number of each species seen in exactly one hour and submit the results to the RSPB. This helps them build a national picture of trends in the UK bird population. More information about what they do with the data here.
- We will be offering free refreshments in the bird hides for those interested in taking part, come along and help us record the number of birds seen;
- Learn more about the birds you see, with help from birdwatchers and guides;
- Free children’s activities based on birds and pondlife in the Reserve.
Its been a very busy Autumn and early Winter for the Conservation Group. As we near the festive season and look forward to putting out feet up, here’s a summary with photos of everything that’s been going on, click on any photo to enlarge –
Reserve Pathways and Bridges
This substantial project, aided by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation was completed at the end of November. Contractors with heavy equipment cut the pathways, laying stone and topping with fine chippings before machine rolling. This surface will continue to harden over the winter for a lasting result, more usable by those with buggies and wheelchairs than the old muddy paths. The new pathways are a long-awaited improvement to the Reserve:
The large bridge over the pond was dismantled and refurbished, while a new small bridge was also built for the lower pond. Both bridges are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and buggies. The lower pond area has also been dredged and extended to create a larger shallow pond that will have a dipping platform, ideal for future educational events. This should be built and in place by Spring 2018.
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped us on the bridge building days, it was fantastic to see people turn out to help:
Our new charcoal burner was commissioned on 25th November, when we burnt a batch of willow, coppiced from the Reserve earlier this year. Under expert guidance we prepared, loaded and lit the burner. After a substantial amount of smoke initially, the furnace settled down and after a few hours we had a batch of usable charcoal, ideal for art, or we may use some for a future BBQ event. Willow charcoal burns quite quickly and we may make some hardwood charcoal to sell in the future, but we’re happy with our first attempt:
We have two Exmoor Ponies on loan from the Moorland Mousie Trust for the next few weeks. They are doing a great job of munching through all the scrub, helping to leave an environment which will encourage meadow plants in the Spring. They are very well tempered, but please keep dogs at a safe distance and on a lead as you wander through the Reserve.