Bourn Brook

Photo by the Wildlife Trust

Bourn Brook flows from Caxton in Cambridgeshire down to Byron's Pool in Granchester, where it joins the River Cam. Most of the brook is within our West Cambridgeshire Hundreds Project area.

Results of our latest survey are available here.

How are we doing with the balsam bashing?

We need your help 

The Bourn Brook needs your help! The Bourn Free project has been tackling the invasive plant Himalayan balsam on the brook since 2011. We rely on volunteer help and welcome anyone who would like to get involved. Much of the work involves wading, so you get to see the brook in a new way (waders provided). Dates through the summer are in the attached schedule, as are meeting points. Feel free to call Ruth Hawksley (01954 713533; ruth.hawksley@wildlifebcn.org) or Vince Lea (01223 262999; 07716 826972; vincelea@btinternet.com) for a chat or to let us know you’re coming.  If we know you're planning to come we can let you know if the work party needs to be changed or cancelled at the last minute.

This year's work party dates are:

Date Section Who Meeting point & time Contact
Saturday 10th June Countryside Restoration Trust CRT Rustics Birds Farm, 9.30am Vince Lea
Sunday 18th June Meridian Golf Course CCV Shire Hall Cambridge 10am, or Golf course car park, 10.30am Vince Lea
Thursday 22nd June Toft Wildlife Trust Brookside, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Saturday 24th June Bourn village Wildlife Trust Alms Hill Bridge, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Wednesday 28th June Bourn Golf Course Wildlife Trust Midweek Team Babraham P&R, 9.30am or Golf club car park, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Sunday 2nd July Bourn downstream of Alms Hill CCV Shire Hall Cambridge 10am, or Alms Hill Bridge, 10.30am Vince Lea
Wednesday 5th July TBC Wildlife Trust Please contact in advance Ruth Hawksley
Saturday 8th July Countryside Restoration Trust CRT Rustics Birds Farm, 9.30am Vince Lea
Wednesday 12th July Bourn Golf Course Wildlife Trust Midweek Team Babraham P&R, 9.30am or Golf club car park, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Saturday 15th July Bourn village Wildlife Trust Alms Hill Bridge, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Sunday 16th July Toft to Caldecote CCV Shire Hall Cambridge 10am, or B1046 layby between Toft and the Caldecote turn, 10.30am Vince Lea
Wednesday 19th July Bourn Golf Course Wildlife Trust Midweek Team Babraham P&R, 9.30am or Golf club car park, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Sunday 23rd July Toft (on dry land) Wildlife Trust Toft Bridge, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Wednesday 26th July Bourn downstream of Alms Hill Wildlife Trust Alms Hill Bridge, 10am Ruth Hawksley
Sunday 30th July Kingston Old Railway CCV Shire Hall Cambridge 10am, or Toft Bridge, 10.30am Vince Lea
Wednesday 2nd August TBC Wildlife Trust Please contact in advance Ruth Hawksley
Sunday 6th August Caldecote Road CCV Shire Hall Cambridge 10am, or Layby on Toft road, 10.30am Vince Lea

Invasive species such as giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam have a bad effect on the brook. Both form dense stands which shade out native plants (which, in turn are better for native insects), and both die back in winter leaving bare banks vulnerable to erosion. You can read a local's view of our 2015 balsam campaign here.

Bourn brook is a valuable habitat for water voles - arguably the UK’s fastest declining mammal. Loss and fragmentation of habitat are largely to blame, followed more recently by predation by American mink. Water voles have few defences against this non-native animal which can decimate their populations. We've been monitoring and controlling the mink and we've also been creating ideal water vole habitat: with lush vegetation for food and shelter, soft banks at around 45 degrees for digging burrows, and water at least 30cm deep.

In 2011, five out of 11 sections of the brook had signs of water voles. Since then the project has helped to control mink and in 2014 eight of 11 sections had signs of water vole, and overall numbers of signs had increased.

Eventually we hope through this project to achieve much more along the brook, including improving water quality and improving habitat in and adjacent to the watercourse. The aim is to have a properly functioning wetland ecosystem, an abundance of wildlife and storage of floodwater on flood meadows rather than exporting it downstream. Being a 'wildlife corridor', work on the length of the brook will have a greater impact than the sum of each individual's actions.

The project newsletter can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

Identifying species

For more information on invasive species, and ID sheets to download, click here.

To learn how to recognise water vole signs, download the ID guide at the bottom of this page.

Contact Ruth Hawksley for more information at ruth.hawksley@wildlifebcn.org or 01954 713533.

Downloads

FilenameFile size
balsamvolunteers2017.pdf287.1 KB
Water Vole and Otter ID1.86 MB
Bourn Free Newsletter 2536.53 KB
Bourn Free Newsletter738.01 KB
Balsam Bear Hunt157.06 KB
bourn_brook_survey_report_2017.pdf5.16 MB