Category Archives: Blog

Christmas Decorations Craft workshop not on this evening

A reminder that the Christmas Decorations Crafts workshop led by the Community Environmental Trust in Castle Vale (shown in our Activity Guide) is not on this evening (21st December 2017) as it was rescheduled to last week instead. We are very sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment caused.

If you’d like an alternative activity then how about decorating your garden with some fallen pine cones instead and give the birds a nice present this Christmas? You can find a ‘how to’ guide on the RSPB website here…

The Tame Valley Wetlands’ Team wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers donate over 7,000 hours since 2015

A team of dedicated volunteers have been improving the landscape of the Tame Valley Wetlands for wildlife and people, totalling 7,009 hours of volunteering since 2015.

“Tameforce” is a group of volunteers carrying out environmental conservation and countryside access work as part of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme. The group started in June 2015, with one volunteer, and 34 more have taken part since then. They have worked at 29 locations in the Tame Valley Wetlands area, from Southfields farm in Coleshill to Warwickshire Moor local nature reserve in Tamworth.

Tameforce volunteers installing a bench in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers installing a bench in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

“The idea behind Tameforce was to support local groups, landowners and local authorities who want to improve the environment or encourage people to enjoy nature, but may not have the capacity to do so.” Rita Gries, Tame Valley Wetlands community and events officer said. “Our volunteers have truly exceeded our expectations. Over the last 2.5 years, they accomplished so much, surpassed all the targets we had set, and kept an upbeat and supportive attitude whatever the weather”

Angella Rodgers, member of Friends of the Lakes, a Tamworth-based community group said “We greatly appreciated the input from the Tameforce volunteers at Stoneydelph lakes. They helped us clear a huge area of invasive brambles, thin trees in the woodland and clear a pathway. The extra manpower meant we were able to complete substantial tasks, but it was also like having a training day. The volunteers were used to doing these tasks and competed them with confidence. We began to see that we also could make a real difference in our volunteering, and we like to think that we carried on the good work.”

Stoneydelph lakes before and after: Orchard at Kettle brook local nature reserve (near Stoneydelph lake) before and after Tameforce volunteers cleared brambles ©Angella Rodgers

Stoneydelph lakes before and after: Orchard at Kettle brook local nature reserve (near Stoneydelph lake) before and after Tameforce volunteers cleared brambles ©Angella Rodgers

For volunteers, Tameforce offers an opportunity to give something back to society, build up skills, keep fit and socialise. Vicky Jorden, a Tameforce volunteer, said: “I enjoy the sense of achievement at the end of the day, when I can see the difference we have made to an area, and enjoy working with a diverse, friendly and interesting team. I have learnt many new practical skills through my volunteering and gained confidence in my physical abilities”

Tameforce volunteers meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and are led by Tame Valley Wetlands staff. They take on many different tasks, such as building nest boxes, planting trees and wildflowers, removing invasive non-native rhododendron and Himalayan balsam, managing woodland and wetland and hedge laying. They have also worked hard to improve access  for all in the Tame Valley Wetlands: clearing vegetation from footpaths, replacing stiles with kissing gates, installing benches and improving way marking. They have helped create four new circular walks, and improved a total of 30km of footpath. Since 2015, Tameforce has also cleared litter off 42 acres of land, the equivalent of 28 football pitches.

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers pulling ragwort from Castle Vale Meadow (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, 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. Those interested in joining Tameforce should email volunteering@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk. The circular walks are downloadable from www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

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.

 

Kettle brook before and after laying woodchip: Path in Kettlebrook local nature reserve (Tamworth), before and after Tameforce volunteers laid woodchip, © Roy Chambers, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Kettle brook before and after laying woodchip: Path in Kettlebrook local nature reserve (Tamworth), before and after Tameforce volunteers laid woodchip, © Roy Chambers, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

the bank of the River Tame arm at Tameside local nature reserve before and after Tameforce volunteers planted wildflowers © Tracey Doherty, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

the bank of the River Tame arm at Tameside local nature reserve before and after Tameforce volunteers planted wildflowers © Tracey Doherty, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers planting a hedge in Castle Vale conservation area (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers planting a hedge in Castle Vale conservation area (Birmingham), © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers laying a hedge at Kingsbury Water Park, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers laying a hedge at Kingsbury Water Park, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Tameforce volunteers putting in fencing at Kingsbury Water Park, © Ebony Chapman, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Tameforce volunteers putting in fencing at Kingsbury Water Park, © Ebony Chapman, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Bench installed by Tameforce volunteers in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

Bench installed by Tameforce volunteers in Dosthill Park local nature reserve, © Tame Valley Wetlands, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust 2017

 

On your bikes! Pedal-powered Christmas cinema pops up in historic Hall

Don’t miss a unique opportunity to experience a Christmas classic -with an eco-friendly twist- on Saturday 9th December at Middleton Hall, Tamworth.

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) are organising a screening of the well-loved holiday feature the Muppet Christmas Carol. This pop-up cinema will be powered by members of the public, who can jump on one of the six bicycles connected to the projector. The cinema will take place in Middleton Hall’s great hall, a historic Georgian building decorated for the occasion.

Rita Gries, Tame Valley Wetlands LPS community and events officer, said “We are really excited about this year’s Cycle Cinema. Middleton Hall, with its charming decorations, is the perfect setting for this timeless Christmas tale and the bike-powered projector adds a fun, educational twist. With only 70 tickets available, it’ll be an exclusive event, with a cosy atmosphere.”

The screening starts at 5.30pm and will last about two hours. Tickets are £3 for adults and £1 for under-18s and available online at the Tame Valley Wetlands website (www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/christmas-cycle-cinema)

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.

New Gnomes and Toy Trains

This is a story of generosity, of kindness and of garden gnomes. You may remember the great ‘Gnome Massacre’ at Echills Wood Railway in Kingsbury Water Park earlier this year, where dozens of gnomes that had been donated over the years were smashed overnight by vandals.

Well, one Tamworth based group decided that they wanted to help. SkillsTank from CareFirst, a group for adults with special needs, bought and handpainted several gnomes with the intention of donating them to the railway in replacement of the damaged population, and this week they were able to donate them in person.

Such an act of generosity gets repaid in kind! When the Echills Wood Railway volunteers heard that SkillsTank were visiting Kingsbury Water Park with their gnomes, they decided to put on a special chartered train ride for the group. After being met and briefed by Railway staff, we were taken round to the new gnome village, where the group were able to give their gnomes a new home next to the railway lines. This was followed by not one, but two, circuits around the Park on the toy trains, put on especially for the SkillsTank group. The friendliness and kindness of the Railway staff was met with vigorous waving all the way round the tracks!

Nicola Lynes, the Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands, said “part of what we try to do within the Tame Valley Wetlands is to connect different groups of people and work together for the benefit of the environment and people who live within the Wetlands.”

The Echills Wood Railway is a miniature railway located in Kingsbury Water Park and runs passenger services on weekends – find out more on their website www.ewr.org.uk

The Tame Valley Wetlands youth engagement programme aims to increase connection between young people and their local natural spaces. For more information, contact Nicola at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

Friends of Tame Valley Wetlands launch meeting

STOP PRESS: Please note, this meeting has been postponed until Monday 16th October at 6.30pm. This is to allow a greater number of people to attend. If you would like to attend this meeting, please contact Rita Gries.

 

The Friends of Tame Valley Wetlands will, going forward, represent the local communities in the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) and feed back to the TVWLP board. It will become the main way local communities are involved, and we are hoping representatives from various locations and community groups will join it.

This first meeting will be an inception meeting for the group. We will share our thoughts about what the remit of the group will be, who to involve, and discuss the terms of reference. There will be no commitment at this stage, so feel free to come along if you are just curious about what this is all about.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP to rita.gries@rspb.org.uk. For directions to our offices, click this link.

Apprentice Blog: Goodbye Tame Valley Wetlands

25.08.17 Today is my last day as a marketing apprentice for the Tame Valley Wetlands.

I have enjoyed every moment of my journey over the last 17 months and I am forever grateful for all the support that I have been given. I have learnt so much by being here and not just to do with marketing either. I have experienced seeing different species of animals for the first time, such as a Kingfisher and Water Voles. I have discovered about the flow of a river and how it can be slowed down by islands and sped up by being canalised. I have explored many of the nature reserves in the Tame Valley Wetlands that I never knew existed before. I have met some of the most inspirational and amazing people, all who have helped or are helping to protect and conserve the Tame Valley. I have enjoyed a variety of events that have been hosted either by the scheme or partners. I have gained knowledge and skill in photography through courses, so that I can enjoy my passion for taking photos better. I have grown in confidence through helping out on events and working with youth groups from schools and organisations across the Tame Valley Wetlands.

None of this would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for the Tame Valley Wetlands team, who have pushed my to strive for my best, who have continuously praised me and made me feel a part of the team, who have told me that I can do anything I set my mind to and who have given me the opportunity to excel in such a wonderful environment. There are really not enough words to describe how amazing my time here has been and I am truly sad to leave but I am also very ready for my next challenge and to better myself and my skills in a different work sector.

Below is a quick video that I have made to show off my favourite moments over the last 17 months. Thank you to all who I have had the pleasure of meeting!

National Citizen Service participants lend a helping hand!

Over the summer, almost 100 young people on the National Citizen Service (NCS) gave their time to help out on Local Nature Reserves around Tamworth. As part of their NCS programme, run by UpRising Birmingham, the groups spend time visiting different community groups and charities in the area, then design and deliver their own social action project in their locality.

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme hosted each group for a conservation taster day during their programme. The young people visited either Broad Meadow, Kettlebrook or Warwickshire Moor Local Nature Reserves, pitching in to help with tasks such as removing Himalayan balsam, laying bark chip along a path, or removing invasive willow. Each of these sites has a dedicated volunteer group made up of local people, and are supported by the Wild About Tamworth project. Although only visiting the site for a few hours, the NCS participants explored the area and put their energy into helping to complete a task which benefits the reserve and the people who use the areas.

Pam Clark, a volunteer at Warwickshire Moor, said this after the groups visited:

“Thanks to all the young people who came today. They worked hard for us and it really is much appreciated.”

As well as attending the taster days, two groups also asked if they could return to do more conservation volunteering as part of their social action project. In total over the whole summer, 98 young people from Lichfield and Tamworth have spent over 260 hours giving their time to conservation volunteering in Tamworth. Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands, said:

“I’m really pleased at the hard work that has been put in by all the NCS participants. Our aim at the Tame Valley Wetlands is to introduce people to their local green spaces, and this has given the young people in Tamworth a chance to see the environment on their doorstep, learn ways in which they can care for it, and engage with it in a positive way.”

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.

For more information, contact Nicola Lynes at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk or on 01675 470917.

Project Update: New Circular Walks

Two new circular walks leaflets, the first in a series of self-guided trails, have been produced by Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

Curdworth plays host to the longest of the two walks (5.5 miles) and allows walkers to explore the wider countryside, giving them views of the Midlands from the Over Green area whilst introducing them to an array of wildlife. The second circular walk (5 miles) can be discovered at Kingsbury Water Park, where walkers can enjoy a variety of wetlands and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. We would like to thank Curdworth Parish Council, Kingsbury Water Park and local farmers and volunteers for supporting the implementation of these trails.

TameForce, the TVWLP volunteer group, has worked hard to improve the access of the walks by installing new kissing gates, adding branded way markers, placing finger posts as well as installing an interpretation panel in Curdworth. Two leaflets have been produced, detailing the length, time and what you can find whilst on your journey. They can be found at various locations in Curdworth and Kingsbury and are available to download from our website here.

A third circular walk has been planned and is currently being improved in the Shustoke area, with work scheduled to be completed by mid September. The Shustoke walk will also be accompanied by a leaflet.

Further walks are under development and work will start on the ground over the coming months, with work already beginning on the long distance footpath, the Tame Way. Other access improvement projects, managed by our partners, are also underway across the landscape.

Stay up-to-date with the latest project updates, stories and events – sign up to our eNewsletter and events mailing list here.

Download walks leaflets

Wildlife Discovery Day – BioBlitz 2017 Success!

Kingsbury Water Park’s, Community Wetland is teaming with wildlife after 612 species were recorded throughout a 24 hour BioBlitz, hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS).

The Wildlife Discovery Day took place on 7/8 July’17, welcoming 78 primary school children from Kingsbury village, a variety of species experts, Rangers from the County Council and the Environment Agency. Members of the public also entered into the fun, through a range of activities, such as walks, talks and demonstrations, all for free!

The goal for the 24 hour period was to record 300 different species, including mammals, birds, insects, amphibians, plants, trees and fish, in the 6 hectare Community Wetland area at the Country Park, restored and improved by the TVWLPS with the help of local volunteers and thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Environment Agency and The Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust. This goal was ‘blown out of the water’ with records doubling expectations, thanks to the commitment of everyone involved and the restoration work undertaken on site. All the records discovered make a huge impact on the data for the area, helping experts from the Warwickshire Biological Record Centre determine the biodiversity value in the area, keeping an eye on endangered and rarer species at the same time.

 

You can do your own recording

It’s easy and you don’t need to be an expert! Download a wildlife recording app for on-the-go, or collect the data on a form and send it to your local wildlife record centre or Wildlife Trust.

You can contribute to wildlife recording in the Tame Valley by submitting your sightings on the TVW iSpot page.

 

Bioblitz

Would you like to know more about what a BioBlitz is? Click here!