Newsletter Masthead

No. 52 - July 2003 edition


In this Issue:

Wild BS13!

Don't Forget

Planting Ideas

Malago Trek

The Programme

Jack Price

Who's who


THERE ARE TWO personal bits of news of M.V.C.G. Committee members which dominate this Newsletter, one of them sad and the other a cause for rejoicing.

Some members will know that Jack Price died on 23 June. We pay tribute to this gentle man on page 8, and our thoughts go out to his children and grand-children. Jack regularly visited his son, Alan, and daughter-in-law, Chris, in northern France where they live, and his French interests resulted in some bottles which Alan and Chris have kindly donated for M.V.C.G.'s funds. Jack's extensive archives on the history of Dundry have also been donated to the Malago Society where they will be available to future researchers. M.V.C.G. will be planting a tree in Jack's memory, probably in Manor Woods, and Dundry Hill Group, for whom Jack was Treasurer, will be planting a tree for him on Dundry.

The happy news, as most people will know, is that Anton Bantock was awarded the M.B.E. in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. The citation is to 'David Delius Anton Bantock, for services to the community, especially education in Withywood, Bristol.' The University of Withywood rightly takes pride of place here, but I choose to believe that 'services to the community' is just officialese for picking up cans from the streets of BS13.

It has been suggested that M.B.E. really stands for 'My Bl**dy Efforts', as opposed to the O.B.E. that often goes to Civil Servants, where it might well mean 'Other B*gg*rs' Efforts'. The fact that this very old joke refuses to die is because it is often true - and never more so than when applied to Anton.



Lots of interesting wildlife reports this time. Please keep them coming ...

A GREY SQUIRREL ran down the pavement of Perrycroft Road, Bishopsworth, in early June, crossed the road and continued on the pavement out of sight into Whitchurch Lane towards Headley Park Did it make it to the woods? We heard the screech of brakes!

A few days later, my neighbour told he had seen A BADGER come out of our drive a few nights before and go beetling up the road. All this the same week Bill Oddie was filming wildlife in Bristol - obviously in the wrong district!


Common spotted orchids on Highridge Common


Later in June, a gang of us went to Manor Woods to check out the orchids. We found a splendid 25 BEE ORCHIDS. The good news is that they are spreading - we were finding them further away from the original site where they appeared when the grass was first left unmown. More good news - we also found a PYRAMIDAL ORCHID (just the one). So far as we know this is the first sighting in Manor Woods. A check on Highridge Common in mid-June revealed three COMMON SPOTTED ORCHIDS, much the same as in previous years.

Left: Common spotted orchids on Highridge Common

As part of recce-ing the route for the Malago Trek (see page 6), I have been spending some time lately at the lake on the Pigeonhouse Stream at the old Wills office block. This really is a neglected gem - both the building itself and the lake, which is incredibly rich in wildlife. Every time I have visited I have seen a KINGFISHER, usually more than once. The DRAGONFLIES are spectacular; there are, of course, MALLARDS and MOORHENS, and the HERON visits as well; but there are also COOT, the only place on the Malago/Pigeonhouse system where they can be seen, since they need deep water. On one visit I counted seven coot chicks.




Manor Woods in June

Left: Knapweed

Right: Burnet moths

Photos by Beryl Heaton

Burnet moths

There is also a lot happening in the water. On two occasions, we have seen something large making continuous splashes. The first time it was totally impossible to tell what it might be and we entertained wishful thoughts of water voles or even otters (though I suppose rats were always the most likely - though it didn't seem ratty behaviour). On the second visit, things were clearer - we again saw a back breaking the surface, but we also saw a fin. The fin was well back and didn't appear every time, hence the mammalian guesses on the first visit. The only fish we could identify which is large enough and has a dorsal fin set well back is a PIKE - and talking to a fisherman there on a subsequent occasion confirmed that there are pike in the lake, along with BREAM, ROACH and PERCH.


My Manor Woods Book


... that we still have copies of My Manor Woods Book available (though a sales effort in recent weeks has reduced the stock most gratifyingly).

They're only £1.50 each and full of information and ideas for things to do for younger members of the family. You can buy your copy at Bishopsworth Library, or give Marie Jo a ring on 964 3106 and we will deliver to you.


THE 'SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP' between Malago Valley Conservation Group and Highridge Infant School marked another happy milestone on 3 June, when a 'gardening party' made up of eight M.V.C.G. members assembled at Highridge Infant School to plant shrubs in a long neglected border. The idea was to brighten up the playground and involve the children in caring for their environment. We were fortunate to have a professional to guide us in our endeavours, namely Mike Lillington. We all doffed our gardening caps when he told us that he had first planted the borders at the School almost fifty years ago!

The ground did not yield easily to forks and spades but half an hour later, with the help of several bags of compost, we had achieved a reasonable tilth where our new plants should happily grow.

As we were working, the children came out in groups to see what we were doing and to ask questions. We were also joined by a couple of cheeky blackbirds looking for worms in the newly turned soil.



Above: Cooking with compost

Below left: How big? Below right: refreshment for the plants ...










... and for the planter. Above right: Job done!






Left: A colourful 'Thank you'








*** LATE NEWS ***

WE'VE JUST HEARD as this Newsletter is being finalised that the developers who appealed against the City Council's decision to turn down their planning application to build six new houses in the grounds of the Old Vicarage, Bishopsworth, have had their appeal DISMISSED.

This is good news - and not unexpected, since the proposed development was clearly too intensive. The announcement has followed very quickly on the site visit by the Planning Inspector, which took place on 24 June. We will now have to see whether the developers will come back with a revised (smaller) application.


THE LAST Newsletter announced the forthcoming MALAGO TREK on Sunday 17 August. This is a stroll from the lower end of the course of the Malago near the cut (actually ASDA carpark) up to the source (one of the sources) on Dundry slopes. The event has been organised by 'Sustainable Southville', M.V.C.G., HHEAG, Walking the Way to Health Bristol and the Bristol Living Rivers Project, in co-operation with other bodies.

MaPhIA logoThe intention is first and foremost to attract as many people as possible on a good day out - but, of course, we have ulterior motives as well. We want to make people aware of the Malago and Pigeonhouse streams - how good they are (in parts), and how they need to be kept that way, and how bad they (in other parts) and what should be done about it. A new network of groups, including M.V.C.G., has been formed to take this forward, with the splendidly silly acronym MaPhIA - the Malago and Pigeonhouse Improvement Alliance!

The leaflet enclosed with this Newsletter tells you more, so come along on Sunday the 17th. You can join in anywhere you like along the route, and the leaflet shows guesstimated timings. Don't forget to bring a picnic to enjoy at the Malago Spring overlooking Bristol.

We need volunteers to help on the day. All you have to do is to wait at a particular spot for an hour or so while the main crowd comes through, and keep them going on the right route. (Bending their ears about the streams and M.V.C.G., and selling them copies of My Manor Woods Book, are optional!) You can then join in the rest of the walk when the rush is over. Please help if you can - ring André on 964 3106 or e-mail him on Thank you.




THANK YOU to all those who continue to collect cans for us to recycle into money (and then daffodils). As the Can-Sorter in Chief will be on her hols soon, please don't deliver to 14 Queens Road until 12 August. If you have cans in your way at the moment, ring us on 964 3106 and we will try to collect. Thank you.


MORE WALKS AND OUTINGS, not forgetting the perennial garbage raids. The very enjoyable walks organised by Greenworks are shown as (GW), and M.V.C.G.'s own events are marked with a .


The news of Jack's death affected more people than this gentle, modest man might have expected. There was some comfort in the ending of the suffering for him and those around him, but the universal reaction among M.V.C.G. members was sadness at a good friend lost, and frustration that his enjoyment of all his new activities was ended.

Jack didn't speak without having something to say. He wasn't one of those people who assume that what interests them (usually themselves) must automatically interest everyone else. So, while we learned fairly soon of his life-long interest in the history of Dundry, it was a while before we realised just how much solid and original research he had done. His delight in cooking which he learned late in life at the 'Food for All' classes became apparent only if someone else raised the subject.

The sometimes jargonistic and 'political' world of a pressure group like M.V.C.G. was new to him, and he started to take an active role only recently and with typical modesty. Of course, his contributions were thoughtful, positive and practical. We shall miss him for that, but mostly for the pleasure of his company


Malago Valley Conservation Group


André Coutanche

964 3106


Lola Hardingham

964 1116

Hon. Secretary

Lis Pibworth

987 0825

Hon. Treasurer Beryl Heaton

964 5780

Committee Members

Anton Bantock, Don Bartlett, Brenda Docherty, Mavis Palmer

Co-opted Members

Tania Case, Valerie Gay, Paul Mizen, Ted Thomas, Sue Walker, CSV Environment, Cllrs Mark Brain, Peter Crispin, Richard Eddy, Royston Griffey, Ron Hodges, Colin Smith, Mary Sykes (All the City councillors for Bishopsworth, Hartcliffe and Whitchurch Park wards are invited to become co-opted Committee members).

Newsletter edited by André Coutanche, 14 Queens Road, Bishopsworth, Bristol, BS13 8LB; telephone 964 3106; e-mail; web address Letters, articles and suggestions from readers are welcome. The opinions expressed in this Newsletter do not necessarily represent those of M.V.C.G.


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