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You are in: Somerset > Nature > Nature Features > Springwatch: Breathing life into Bower Ponds

Young volunteers at Bower Ponds wildlife event

The makeover on Sunday June 8

Springwatch: Breathing life into Bower Ponds

It used to be a place that families avoided. But thanks to help from the police and a wildlife makeover Bower Ponds is once more a community hub.

Three hundred people turned up to support a BBC Somerset Springwatch Action Team (SWAT) wildlife project today.

Volunteers wasted no time leaping in welly boots first to clear debris from the park's two ponds. Other children helped to pick up litter from around the edges and busied themselves making nest boxes, bug hotels and bird feeders.

They were rewarded with sunshine, free face painting and music courtesy of the BBC Somerset bus parked at the entrance in Whitfield Road. 

Bower Ponds in the summer

Volunteers helped to clean up the pond.

Volunteers put some welly into it

The project aimed to turn the Sedgemoor District Council land into a wildlife haven to be enjoyed by all of the residents on the Bower Manor estate in Bridgwater.

Neighbourhood police sergeant Charmaine Dyne said: "It's a fantastic way to get the community to take ownership of their park."

Organisers say the event was more than an exercise in clearing up. It also helped bring people together.

Sgt Dyne said: "We had a lot of people showing an interest. Some of the parents with young children are talking about using the park to hold community activities and I've just spoken to a man who wants to get involved in voluntary police work too."

Not everyone was convinced the good will would last beyond the day however and a wooden sign erected by the BBC Somerset team last week was discovered in the pond.  

Children litter picking around the pond area

Children got stuck in picking up litter

Some neighbours, who did not wish to be named, predicted the park would be trashed again by teenagers late at night, although others were more confident.

Linda Ford, owner of Bower Take Away fish and chip shop, said: " The Police Community Support Officer Emma Burt will see to it that the older kids don't spoil it.

"She's very good at talking to them and making sure they don't drop litter or do anything worse. They know if they did she'd be for them." 

Reducing crime

Police reported a reduction in vandalism and damage to the site, following a big clean up in April and more wildlife events are planned in the park for later in the year. 

Volunteers from Somerset Wildlife Trust, The council and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers showed people how to encourage wildlife into the park, by building log piles for mice, voles and beetles to inhabit.

Besides the two man made ponds, Bower Ponds features a children's play area.

It was chosen for a makeover by an independent panel organised by BBC Somerset. The panel consisted of two wildlife experts, Nick Gray a wildlife officer at Somerset Wildlife Trust, and Les Davis, a Mendip Hill Warden.

A volunteer takes a well earned rest

A volunteer admires her handiwork

They plumped for Bower Ponds because it was an urban location that could benefit a high number of people.

It also had the advantage of active support from the local neighbourhood policing team. They hoped the facelift would help discourage anti-social behaviour problems in the park and give the local community a sense of ownership of the land.

We will revisit the park in weeks and months to come to see how they are getting on.

Check here for the latest updates and details of future events.

last updated: 09/06/2008 at 14:42
created: 19/05/2008

You are in: Somerset > Nature > Nature Features > Springwatch: Breathing life into Bower Ponds

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