Author Archives: Tracey Doherty

Work on the willows continues at Borrowpit Lake

The Lamb Angling Club held a work party on Sunday, 19th November 2017 to continue the work on the willows which have become a ‘den of mischief’ in recent years.

Six members of the Club worked hard to remove and stack the brash so that our Partner, Tamworth Borough Council – Streetscene team could chip them. The site is really starting to open up and feel safer.  Again, there was three big bags of litter collected – glass beer bottles, plastic soft drinks bottles and cans mostly.  We are continuing to get lots of positive feedback from passers by, which is great motivation.

There’s still lots to do and it has the making of a great wetland area. Watch this space!

Here are some before and after photos taken on Sunday.

Start of the ‘big’ stream clean up at Borrowpit Lake

Today, we have been working on clearing the brook that links Borrowpit Lake to the River Anker.  Just two people worked hard to clear a 30m section of litter and encroaching instream vegetation.

The clean up produced 10 bags of litter, 6 traffic cones, 1 tyre, 1 snowboard and 1 full size punch bag.  We estimate between 150-175 glass and plastic bottles and cans were removed from this short section of stream in less than 3 hours.

  • 6 traffic cones, 1 tyre, 1 snowboard and 1 full size punching bag were the interesting finds of the day
  • 10 bags of litter containing no less than 150-175 bottles and cans collected in 3 hours
  • Many bottles and cans were submerged in the stream.
  • Over 20 bottles were found within a 2m square area beneath nettles on the stream bank
  • It may look like vegetation but it is hiding something....
  • We discovered a headwall into the stream, completed blocked and with bottles inside the pipework too!

We received lots of great comments from passers by who told us to “keep up the good work” or “you are doing a great job”.   This nice feedback is great motivation.

Thanks again to Tamworth Borough Council Streetscene team who came out to collect all the rubbish.

Take a look at the before and after photos.

 

 

 

Pathway improvements at Borrowpit Lake

Tame Valley Wetlands are extremely grateful for help by six volunteers from Keir Services (Area 9) who transformed a dark, enclosed pathway to be more open and accessible at Borrowpit Lake, Tamworth.

  • The guys start to remove the willow dome den that is a hub of anti social mischief. Removing this will help make the area safer.
  • The girls remove the blackthorn scrub encroachment, opening up the pathway and making it more accessible and feeling safer by improving the sight lines
  • Streetscene came out to chip all the vegetation which can be used as landscaping material in the Borough
  • The Environmental team from Keir Services who manage Area 9 for Highways England.

The environmental team worked hard all day to clear vegetation near Borrowpit Lake and the Snowdome to help define a pathway and create a safer space for walkers around the lakeside. Their hard work was immediately recognised by passers by who welcomed the work and said what a difference it made.

Partners in our Borrowpit Lake project, Tamworth Borough Council and The Lamb Angling Club came out to see the work and thank the group.

We are also extremely grateful for support from Tamworth Borough Council, whose Streetscene team chipped the arisings and removed three large bags of rubbish from the site.  The  wood chippings can be reused as landscaping material.

Take a look at some of the before and after photos.

 

 

Curdworth hedge receives heritage makeover

If you have driven along the Kingsbury Road through Curdworth village you may have noticed some work happening at the King George V Playing Fields.

We are working in partnership with Curdworth Parish Council to give the hedgerow alongside the playing field car park a heritage makeover with the ancient skill of hedge laying.

The work should be complete by the end of October 2017. This work is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Here are some before and after photos.

Himalayan balsam meets its match!

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is working with CABI scientists and Partners to introduce a new control method for Himalayan balsam, a non-native plant species that is negatively impacting the river corridor and its associated wetland habitats.

Non-native invasive species cost millions of pounds each year to control. Their negative effect on our native wildlife and habitats is of deep concern to conservation groups.  One such plant is Himalayan balsam.  In 2003, the Environment Agency estimated it would cost £300 million to eradicate completely; since then, the weed has continued to invade new areas.

Introduced to the UK in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant, its spread to the wider environment has negatively affected rivers, floodplains, connected ditches and waterbodies.  The plant efficiently spreads through seed dispersal, with each plant producing upto 2500 seeds that are released and catapulted to a distance of upto seven metres.  It is then widely spread through rivers and flood events, colonising river banks and connected wetland to create dense stands of plants.

In 2006, CABI scientists were commissioned by the Environment Agency, DEFRA and the Scottish Government to find a reliable and efficient biological control method for Himalayan balsam. Field visits to the Himalayan foothills of India and Pakistan identified a number of natural enemies that were tested as potential biological control agents for the weed.  Most of these agents were later ruled out, buta highly specific rust fungal plant pathogen, which lives its whole life cycle on Himalayan Balsam, was found to offer the best control solution.

The Tame Valley Wetlands area is now benefiting from over 10 years of CABI research, public consultation and associated field trials by introducing the rust fungus on to Himalayan balsam in the Tame Catchment area. If successful, the rust will help decrease the impact of the weed.

Tracey Doherty, Wetland Landscape Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands said “100,000’s of volunteer hours are spent controlling Himalayan balsam along our rivers and floodplains in the UK.  There are many negative effects of this plant on the environment, namely the monoculture that it creates. These tall 10-12ft plants with large leaves shade out our native plant species and also reduce the beneficial fungi that live in the soil that our native plants need but balsam doesn’t.  Its shallow root system does not help with soil retention, contributing to erosion and aiding sedimentation pathways into our rivers and streams that negatively affect water quality, fish and invertebrate populations. Biodiversity is reduced in these Himalayan balsam dominated sites.  Less species use the plant, although some pollinators do have a benefit when in flower.  An effective, plant specific rust fungus which has undergone consultation process and rigorous testing is a valuable tool to combat the spread and aid control of this invasive plant. The rust fungus will not eradicate Himalayan balsam completely from our landscape but it will make it more manageable, by being one of a number of plants along a water course instead of creating a monoculture, having more negative effects on our environment, than positive.  This means pollinators will still be able to use the plant but more importantly, they will be able to feed and pollinate our native plant species instead.  We are grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund and our Partners for supporting this pioneering work that will be monitored over the coming years.”

Carol Ellison, Senior Plant Pathologist, Invasive Species Management at CABI said “Invasive plants that have been introduced into a new area usually arrive without the natural enemies, such as insects and diseases, which keep them from dominating in their native habitats.  Biological control aims to redress this imbalance by introducing damaging, coevolved natural enemies into the invasive range, to achieve sustainable suppression of the weed.  This approach, although new to Europe, has been implemented globally for well over 100 years, with some spectacular successes. Strict scientific procedures are followed to ensure the safety of the selected agent. We are optimistic that once established in an area, the rust fungus will spread naturally and significantly reduce the growth and seed production of Himalayan balsam. Although this is likely to take a number of years to achieve, as the rust fungus needs to build up in a population, the impact will be permanent, unlike conventional control methods, such as manual removal and herbicides.”

  • Himalayan balsam dominates ditch system - early May © Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

This project is working collaboratively with CABI scientists, West Midland Bird Club, Warwickshire County Council Country Parks and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

 

Vole Patrol

  • vole patrol looking for signs of water voles

Tame Valley Wetland volunteers kicked off vole patrol training yesterday.

Led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s, Tim Precious who is leading a Heritage Lottery Funded Water Vole Recovery project in North Warwickshire,  we learnt about water vole ecology, their protective status, the signs to look for and how to carry out a rapid non intrusive survey.  We were even lucky enough to see four water voles and witness some interesting behaviour as males battled ferociously over females, territory and we even saw courtship!  A truly wonderful day was had by everyone.

If you are interested in becoming part of the Vole Patrol, please get in touch by emailing enquiries@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.

Community Wetland vandalised

A community wetland area at Kingsbury Water Park, which has seen significant investment through the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme over the last year, has been vandalised for a third time in as many weeks.

On Monday evening (19th June 2017) half out of the 10 bespoke willow screens that make up the viewing platform at the Country Park were ‘kicked in’, leaving significant damage to the structure. The same activity occurred last Thursday evening (15th June 2017). According to reports, a large group of children on bikes were seen damaging the screens at approximately 5:40pm.

Park Rangers and staff from the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS) repaired the damage prior to the weekend. Bicycle tyre tracks were found on the viewing platform after the incident took place.

Tracey Doherty, TVWLPS Wetland Landscape Officer said “I am very saddened to see this behaviour. The partnership and local volunteers have worked very hard to deliver a great community space, which allows people to get closer to nature, incorporating a viewing platform that can be used for outdoor education by the local schools. We have spent approximately £15,000 installing both the viewing platform and the pond dipping platform and 1,200 hours of time has been given by volunteers. The damage is such a shame for everyone who appreciates and enjoys spending time outside in the area.”

Community consultation showed overwhelming support for the project and the creation of the viewing platform.

The damage has come just three weeks after two bespoke sand martin willow sculptures were stolen from the site. These were concreted into the ground and installed on an island for safety.

The Community Wetland project itself cost £110,000 and was funded through Biffa Award, the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust and the Environment Agency. It was led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Warwickshire County Council, working together in partnership as part of a series of landscape improvement projects being delivered through the Heritage Lottery Funded Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The 6 hectare wetland has been transformed from disused waterlogged football pitches and restored to its original function as the floodplain of the River Tame. It now consists of new water channels, scrapes, ditches and reedbed, helping to restore floodplain connectivity. Along with the viewing and pond dipping platforms and willow sculptures, new benches and interpretation panels have been installed. A sand martin bank has also been constructed in order to provide a vital safe nesting site for this species of bird, and can be viewed safely from the viewing platform.

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

The Tame Valley Wetlands’ team and Park Rangers from Kingsbury Water Park are now urging people to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour in the area. They would also like the community to get in touch if they see anything, or if they know who might have carried out the damage, by calling the Police on 101 or the Tame Valley Wetlands LPS office on 01675 470 917 or by emailing enquiries@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.

 

Ratty’s Return project update

Tame Valley Wetlands are on a mission to create a wetland corridor fit for Water Voles.

This cute riparian mammal that lives on the banks of rivers, ditches, canals and still waters, was once a familiar sight through the Valley.  Habitat loss and predation by American Mink are the main reason for its decline in the area but the tide is turning in favour our furry friend.  They are not far away and are making their way under their own steam along the River Anker and Coventry Canal.

We are working on a number of measures to aid our beloved Water Vole’s return to the Tame Valley.

  1. Enhance riparian habitat where we can, to be favourable for Water Voles [Find out what we have been doing here]
  2. Engage with land owners and the local community about this charismatic mammal, the threats it faces and how we can help it [Leaflet being produced and available soon to download]
  3. Control Mink populations which threaten their return and monitoring the area for both Water Voles and Mink [Get involved and volunteer with us to survey monitoring rafts – training provided. Contact the Wetlands Landscape Officer on 01675 470917 or email enquiries@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk]
  4. Record suspect sightings to us, so that we can investigate it.

 

Doing our bit for National Nest Box Week

BTO National Nest Box Week: 14th-21st February 2017

In preparation of the BTO’s 20th National Nest Box Week (NNBW) and the onset of 2017 breeding bird season, Tame Valley Wetlands have been doing their bit to create homes for our feathered friends.

Recently, Tame Valley Wetlands supplied 23 nest boxes to project sites at Kingsbury Water Park, Community Wetlands and Tameside LNR in Tamworth.  These have been installed and are ready for 2017 occupation.  The woodcrete boxes are BTO’s official nest boxes for National Nest Box Week which runs from 14th to 21st February, every year.  These sturdy boxes can last 20-25 years, much longer than the classic wooden nest boxes and they have different designs to accommodate different bird species.

We have also provided specialist boxes for :-

  • Kestrel
  • Tawny Owl
  • Kingfisher
  • Two willow baskets which can be used by Hobby
  • Barn Owl

Kestrel box (Left,)                   Owl box (right)

As well as classic nest boxes, two Sand Martin hotels have been built in February 2017 offering a total of 102 flood proof nest burrows.  We may even get Kingfishers using them!

Tameside LNR, Tamworth                            Kingsbury Water Park

(Photos: © T Doherty 2017)

The simple action of putting up a nest box is easy and will provide a thrilling reward when our feathered friends use them.  Find out more about what you can do on the BTO website.  Alternatively, why not join us on Thursday, 23rd February 2017 in Tamworth to build your own bird box which you can take home and put up in your garden.  There are still a few places left.  Book online via the events page.

 

Photos from our Nest Box Building day in 2016. (Photos © R Gries 2017)

Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund