Author Archives: Emily Reilly

Caught on trail camera!

We’ve set up a few trail cameras around Hams Hall Environmental Centre and in our gardens.

Over the past few weeks, especially as nocturnal wildlife has started to become more active now the weather has warmed up slightly, we have seen a few goings-on on the camera footage…

International Women’s Day 2021

Today, 8 March 2021, is International Women’s Day, celebrating achievements of women across the world.

The campaign theme for this year is #ChoosetoChallenge, encouraging people around the world to speak up about and challenge gender bias and inequality, whilst celebrating women’s achievements, to create an inclusive world.

Let’s hear from the women on the Tame Valley Wetlands team about their experiences working in the world of conservation.

Su is our Community and Volunteers Officer, and works with the team to deliver a variety of engagement and training projects across the Tame Valley Wetlands NIA.

I was lucky enough to grow up on the coast in Cumbria. It’s a beautiful part of our country and certainly was part of my inspiration for wanting to work in wildlife conservation. My other inspiration is my parents who both have a love for the great outdoors and everything that lives in it. The combination of these led to my choice of Environmental Biology at University and ultimately ending up working at the Wildlife Trusts.

I am at my happiest when I’m outdoors so be able to do that as my job is a dream come true. At Tame Valley Wetlands I am involved in a number of projects where I’m focussed on getting people out and about and helping them to find their way to enjoy their local wildlife. Not only that, the projects I work on cover a large area to help our wildlife thrive. This landscape scale conservation is what it’s all about for me. Working across a huge area to conserve wildlife and to engage the local community with it.

Sir David Attenborough said “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced” and this is what I take into consideration with all the work I do. Protecting the environment for the future of this planet may be goal but I know to achieve it we need the people of this planet to want to protect it. It’s a difficult balance but it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

Helen is our Willow Tit Assistant Project Officer, working on our project ‘On a Tree by a River’ to bring back declining willow tit populations into the area.

I think this picture just sums me up. I’m not happy unless I’m outside in nature. Either taking a photo, working, surveying or running. Last year I passed my degree in Conservation and Wildlife Management and gained myself a fabulous job in trying to help the population of the ever declining willow tit. I love getting out there, either the physical side of conservation or the data side. Hence why I’ve wanted to carry on my studies and do a masters by research. It is just something that is in me to try and help the natural world as best I can.

Emily is our Project Support Officer, working on various projects assisting with planning, administering and carrying out project work.

“A career in wildlife and conservation was something I was led to after studying Biology at university and after a few changes in career plans. Initially, volunteering with Tame Valley Wetlands opened my eyes to many varied and exciting opportunities, so I then started working with the team on an official basis not long after. Being outdoors and connecting with nature is something I’ve really come to treasure, as well as being able to contribute to protecting local wildlife. I’ve learnt so much in this role, from conservation techniques to realising the benefits of nature to our wellbeing.”

Take a look at the pictures below showing just some of the achievements of women in Tame Valley Wetlands’ projects over the last year.

Designing a Rain Garden

We have been working with a local primary school to create a rain garden as part of our Love Your River Cole project.

Pupils at High Meadow Community School have been working on some brilliant imaginative designs for the rain garden.

With the help of Su, our Community and Volunteer Project Officer, one of these designs will be brought to life as a real rain garden in the school grounds.

Take a look at the designs in the gallery below.

Improving Flood Defences Along the River Cole

We are planning to utilise various types of flood defence to help stop the River Cole from flooding at times of high rainfall.

Flood defences are mechanisms and methods put in place to help reduce the risk of rivers flooding into residential or business ares.

As part of the Love Your River Cole (LYRiC) project, work will involve creating flood defence mechanisms to help protect areas from the detrimental effects of flooding. Examples of methods used to reduce flooding risks are de-paving, the creation of rainwater gardens and creating floodplains. Keep reading for more information on each type…

De-paving

De-paving involves reducing the areas of unnecessary pavement and replacing them with permeable materials, such as gravel or soil. This enhances the absorbency of the ground, meaning when high levels of rainfall are experienced, a lot of the excess water is soaked up by the soil instead of running off into the river. Therefore, the amount of water in the river is less likely to reach flooding heights. De-paving also benefits the environment by creating more green spaces in which plants and trees can grow.

Rainwater gardens

Rainwater gardens are also called bioretention facilities. They are areas of garden designed to catch and absorb the water running off from roofs of buildings, typically planted with species which can tolerate water-logging for extended periods of time. Rainwater gardens are easy to manage because they don’t need watering once they are established, and they can make attractive features within a typical garden. Planting a wider variety of plant species within a rainwater garden is also beneficial in attracting a diverse range of insects and small animals, which is beneficial to the health of the biological community.

Floodplains

Floodplains are areas of land which are allowed to flood naturally, in order to prevent the risk of residential and business areas flooding in case of heavy rain.

They are typically flat, empty areas of land next to a river and should lie at the same height as the river. Sometimes, farmers may let parts of their farming land flood to act as a floodplain at certain times of year. By reconnecting the River Cole to natural floodplains, the risk of damage to other areas by flooding will be mitigated.

Grassland Management and Restoration – LYRiC

Tame Valley Wetlands have been working with local corporate and volunteer groups to improve the grasslands around the River Cole.

This picture shows staff from Birmingham Airport hard at work on a Wild Work Day with TVW.

The work will contribute towards creating better quality habitats for other wildlife, and enhancing the plant biodiversity around the river. Additionally, ongoing management of the trees and grasses around the footpaths will ensure that public access is maintained throughout the year.

Non-Native Species Control

An important part of our work on the River Cole is to tackle the invasive plant species growing along the river banks, particularly Himalayan Balsam.

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) may look quite attractive initially, but it is in fact a non-native invasive species (NNIS) causing a major weed problem, especially affecting rivers, floodplains, connected ditches and waterbodies.

 The plant disperses its seeds very widely and very efficiently, with each plant producing up to 2500 seeds that are released and catapulted to distances of up to seven metres! The seeds are then widely spread through rivers and floodings, meaning the plants eventually colonise and take over entire river banks and connected wetlands.

Because Himalayan balsam grows extremely rapidly, it out-competes the native plant species growing nearby. This is problematic: if other plant species are not able to survive, the biodiversity of the environment decreases immensely. It is important for a natural ecosystem to have a high level of biodiversity with many different species so that it is stable and more resilient.

The plant grows especially quickly on riverbanks, and the River Blythe is no exception. Part of our work involves using biological and mechanical control methods to clear the area of balsam so that other plant species are able to thrive and bring back the river’s biodiverse and healthy ecosystem environment. Click on the links below to read updates about our control mechanisms.

World Wetlands Day

Today, 2 February 2021, is World Wetlands Day.

Across the world, wetlands are incredibly valuable. They create rich habitats for wildlife, improve water quality, and reduce the risk of floods. They provide unique services, which no other ecosystem can.

Sadly, many wetland landscapes have been degraded and destroyed in the past by activities such as urban development, agriculture and peat extraction. It is vital that we work to protect and restore these vital environments to help nature’s recovery.

This year’s World Wetlands Day theme focuses on the theme of ‘wetlands and water’: how wetlands act as an essential source of freshwater, and how we must protect this resource for the wellbeing of the planet.

Thanks to WILD Presentations for some of the clips in this video.

A Snowy Weekend

Hams Hall walled garden and Church Pool Covert were transformed into a winter wonderland over this January weekend by a day of rather heavy snow!

Click the arrows to scroll through the pictures.