Jake’s Bakes rake in the cash

The CVCG committee were delighted to receive a donation recently of £33.00, courtesy of Jake Raad (age 7 and a half).

Jake had decided to raise money over Christmas by making mince pies and selling them around the village. And very successful he was too, as he sold all of them. The word on the street was that they were ‘exceedingly good’.

The money will go towards our winter bird feed supply; many thanks Jake for your idea, effort and support!



‘The Best Coffee Morning Ever!’

The coffee morning on Saturday 28th to coincide with the RSPB bird watch weekend was a resounding success.  Children from Clara Vale and Crawcrook made bird feeders to take home to attract birds to their own gardens.  Wildlife artist, Jonnie Foker demonstrated using pastels to draw bird shapes. Children and parents joined in to produce a colourful  frieze which will be hung in the hall for all to see.

Thanks to everyone who came along, to all the people who baked scrumptious cakes and especially to the team in the kitchen.  We raised around £150 towards bird feed for the birds in the nature reserve.

Thanks also to all the parents and children for taking part in activities and allowing these photos to be shared, we are so glad you enjoyed yourselves! One of the youngsters, Jake Raad, declared it ‘…the best coffee morning ever!’.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Coffee Morning/RSPB Big Birdwatch

The January Clara Vale Village Hall Coffee Morning coincides with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, so the CVCG are joining forces with the Village Hall Committee to make a little event out of it.

Alongside the usual tea, coffee and delicious home-made cakes, if that weren’t reason enough we have opportunites to:

  • Make a bird feeder to take home
  • Try out a bird-related art activity with local artist Jonnie Foker* (and view some of his work)
  • Visit our bird hides and complete the RSPB survey (11:00 – 12:00)

All funds raised from the activities will help us to purchase bird feed for the Nature Reserve.

*Jonnie Foker is a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists and Bearpark Artists Co-operative, specialising in birdlife. Jonnie will provide a taster art activity and bring some of his work to view or buy. Find out more at bearparkartists.co.uk

When: Saturday 28th January 10:30 – 12:30

Where: Clara Vale Village Hall




Brash Burning Bonfire

CVCG members and local villagers turned out for our burn-off of cuttings and coppicing, left over from task days during the last year or so in the Reserve.

Some piles of cuttings were retained as habitat for small birds and other wildlife. The fire site was carefully chosen and burning area closely controlled.

Tea and cakes were on hand and a good natter was had by all.  A successful first community event of the year!


Survey Results

The Conservation Group committee was pleased at the outcome of the small survey that we recently undertook, on the use of the nature reserve.

Respondents said they enjoyed the peace and quiet, nature and wildlife in the Reserve. Photography and walking are also key reasons to visit.

Improvements in access and paths were the most popular changes that people would like to see. People also wanted to know about other walks and activities in the area, along with more information about wildlife and what you can expect to see when you visit the Reserve.

The recent funding from the Flowers in the Vale project has helped with new gates for the Reserve, which offer better access for people with buggies or wheelchairs. Going forward we will be looking for new funding opportunities to help improve the paths.

The feedback about wildlife information and walks will be useful when we update the leaflet about the Reserve.

Thanks to everyone who took part!

Clay Figures Appearing in the Reserve

Sixty children from Crawcrook Emmaville Primary School visited the Clara Vale Nature Reserve on Wednesday 10 February to explore the environment and learn more about textures and colour.

The children visited the bird hide in small groups and saw many birds including a Kingfisher and Heron. In the grassland and woods they spotted spring flowers, catkins and sticky buds.

If you see trees decorated  with clay faces, these were made in the Village Hall during the childrens’ visit. Have a walk through the Reserve and see if you can spot them, along with the other signs of spring!




Newsletter – January 2016

The CVCG has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to improve and restore the grassland in the Reserve. The bid was made on our behalf through Gateshead Council. For more information visit our Flowers in the Vale page.

As part of the project, we will be updating the education pack for local schools and plan to survey visitors who use the Reserve. This new website has been created to satisfy one of the grant conditions, namely to make information about the Reserve more widely available. All the latest information about what is happening will be published here.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is over the weekend 30th-31st January. If you participate in Clara Vale, please keep a copy of what you see and drop it off to Gordon at 1, Edington Gardens. The RSPB only publishes the results of the survey for the county. It would be interesting to see what is happening here if you can watch your own garden birds, but if you can’t the Hides in the Reserve will be watched on Sunday 31st from 10-11 am. Come along and help. Be there for 9.45 for a brief introduction to the Garden Birdwatch.

The mild weather has meant it has been quiet in the Reserve with very few of the winter birds we usually see but the feeding stations are still worth visiting. Deer have been seen regularly from them and a kingfisher continues to visit. A green woodpecker surprised a birdwatcher when it perched on one of the sticks in the pond meant for the kingfishers.

If you want to see a great winter wildlife spectacle, go down to Shibdon Pond in Blaydon where tens of thousands of starlings gather to roost in the reeds. If there’s not too much wind or rain, most nights they perform a murmuration, before roosting. It’s a sight not to be missed. Get there about 3.45 as the flock builds. They’re going to roost around 4.15-4-30.