Bourn Brook

Wider Countryside

Bourn Brook

Bourn Brook

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 are gearing up for 2018's balsam season, beginning 9th June.  Watch our progress here!

This year's work party dates are:

Date Section Who Meeting point & time Contact
Sat 9th Jun CRT (Westfield) CRT 1Birds Farm, Barton 9.30am VL
Sun 10th Jun Kingston to Caldecote CCV 2Shire Hall 10am or Kingston Layby on B1046 TL337558 10.20am VL
Sat 16th Jun Bourn village (am only) WT Alms Hill Bridge TL325567 10am RH
Sun 17th Jun Caldecote to Toft CCV 2Shire Hall 10am or Toft layby on B1046 TL352557 at 10.20am VL
Sun 24th Jun Kingston to Caldecote CCV 2Shire Hall 10am or Kingston Layby on B1046 TL337558 10.20am VL
Wed 27th Jun Comberton? WT 3Babraham P&R 9.30am, or contact in advance to arrange meeting at site RH
Thu 28th Jun Bourn Manor Farm WT Alms Hill Bridge TL325567 9.30am RH
Tue 3rd Jul Eversden? WT TBA - please contact in advance RH
Thu 12th Jul Toft to golf course WT Brookside (footpath bridge) TL358556 9.30am RH
Sat 14th Jul CRT (Westfield) CRT 1Birds Farm, Barton 9.30am VL
Tue 17th Jul Bourn Manor Farm WT Alms Hill Bridge TL325567 9.30am RH
Sat 21st Jul Toft dry land (am only) WT Toft Bridge TL356557 10am RH
Sun 22nd Jul Meridian Golf Course CCV 2Shire Hall10am  or 4Meridian Golf Club car park TL365560 10.20am VL
Wed 25th Jul Bourn Golf Course WT 3Babraham P&R 9.30am, or contact in advance to arrange meeting at site RH
Sat 28th Jul Bourn village WT Alms Hill Bridge TL325567 10am RH
Sun 29th Jul
 
Caldecote to Toft CCV 2Shire Hall 10am or Toft layby
on B1046 TL352557 10.20am
VL
Wed 8th Aug Bourn Golf Course WT 3Babraham P&R 9.30am, or contact in advance to arrange meeting at site LO
Sat 11th Aug CRT (Westfield) CRT 1Birds Farm, Barton 9.30am VL
Thu 16th Aug Bourn WT Alms Hill Bridge TL325567 9.30am RH

Meeting point details:
1 Birds Farm, Haslingfield Rd, Barton, CB23 7AG
2 Shire Hall outside Registry offices on Castle Street, Cambridge, CB3 0AJ
3 Babraham Road Park & Ride, Babraham Rd, Cambridge CB22 3AB
4 Meridian Golf Club car park CB23 2RY 5 Bourn Golf Club car park, CB23 2TT

Abbreviations and contact details
CRT = Countryside Restoration Trust
CCV = Cambridge Conservation Volunteers
WT - Wildlife Trust

VL - Vince Lea 01223 263962, 07716 826972, vincelea@btinternet.com
RH - Ruth Hawksley 01954 713533, 07545 423854, ruth.hawksley@wildlifebcn.org
LO - Laura Osborne, 01954 713530, 07793 606025, laura.osborne@wildlifebcn.org

About the Bourn Brook

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. A small army of volunteers attacks the balsam every year.  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.  By 2017 water vole signs were present all along the brook, as a continuous population.

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.