Andrew Bluett and Mike Smart visited the Cinderford Northern Quarter site today, Saturday 15th February together with Mark & Clare Kitchen, Rob Husbands and Simon Glover. (Apologies were received from other invited specialists).
The intention is to carry out a series of visits to the site through the coming months, to add to the wildlife records for the site, to monitor changes both changes through the seasons and as development progresses (assuming that it does so) and to raise awareness of the site and the wildlife that inhabits and uses the area. This was the first of these planned visits.
We met in front of Steam Mills School at SO 646 159, walked across to the CNQ site and took a route through the heart of the proposed development area (Nofold Green), around the lake and back to the school.
Much of the development area is Forestry Commission land but due to be transferred to the ownership of Forest of Dean District Council/Homes and Communities Agency by way of a proposed land swap to facilitate the development. In return for the approx. 20 acres, the Forestry Commission will receive some 80 acres of other land comprising the majority of the Linear Park and additional land to the west of the road between Forest Vale Industrial Estate and Cinderford Bridge.
The landscape to the north-west of the lake is semi-natural grassland that has regenerated on the old waste and spoil heaps resulting from past clay and coal extraction, punctuated with large numbers of Alder trees of varying sizes and is known to be inhabited and used by a variety of species including Adders.
As a result of the recent rainfall there was a significant area of standing water amongst the trees on the north west side of the site, the lake was significantly higher than its usual level and there was a swift and full flow of water in the Engine Brook.
Mark & Clare Kitchen collected botanical records during the walk, Simon Glover was able to point out various pieces of habitat known to support Grizzled and other Skippers and Wood Whites and Rob Husbands was able to point out a Tree Pipit territory from the spring of 2013. The whole party recorded bird life as the walk progressed.
Birds recorded – on the lake – Cormorant, Heron, Coot, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Mallard; in the general area – a mixed flock of approx. 50 each Siskin and Lesser Redpoll feeding on the Alder cones, Raven, Carrion Crow (pair), Jay, Green Woodpecker (2), Sparrowhawk (fem), Buzzard, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Wren and Nuthatch; a Goshawk was seen and watched displaying across the valley.
Mark Kitchen noted a Vole, probably Short Tailed, on the return walk to the school.
The following relating to the proposed development are appended for information –