Category Archives: Blog

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!

Tame Valley Wetlands’ Celebration Supper!

The Tame Valley Wetlands’ team invited local community groups, Councillors, partners and volunteers to an evening of celebration on Thursday 13th July’17.

The event was arranged to mark the achievements over the last 3 years, to thank all who have played a part so far and to share our proposed vision and plans for the future.

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) was established back in 2005 and in 2014, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the fantastic support of local people, volunteers, funders and our partners, we started delivering a £2.5m Landscape Partnership Scheme. We have grown as a team and partnership in this time and have made exciting progress towards our aims and vision of creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The TVWLP celebration event took place in the beautiful and historic setting of Middleton Hall, right in the heart of the Tame Valley Wetlands.  Guests received a project update and personal highlight from each member of the team. Gina Rowe, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes Manager, then presented the Partnership’s proposed vision for the future. As the current scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund until mid-2018, the Partnership Board has been looking at the next phase (2018-2030) in order to secure a strong legacy and future. The near 100 attendees were able to feedback on proposals and vote on their preferred actions.

We then shared an informal hog roast supper, and some lovely on-brand cakes. Guests were able to mingle, network and catch-up with the team and each other.  There was a real buzz about the event. We gathered a lot of useful opinions and pledges on our future vision, and everybody left motivated for the year ahead and beyond.

John Muir Award Update

Since January 2017, 33 young people across the Tame Valley Wetlands have achieved their John Muir Award (Discovery Level) with the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme. The nationally recognised award is an environmental scheme, focused on wild spaces and connecting people from all walks of life with nature.

Youth Engagement Officer, Nicola Lynes, delivered the award to students from The Rawlett School, Skills Tank CareFirst and Kingsbury High School. Each student worked through the 4 key principles that make up the John Muir Award – ‘Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share’ – by visiting a natural space, such as their school grounds or a nearby nature reserve.

Each group had the chance to discover and explore their wild space in a way that suited them best. One group looked for signs of animals and their tracks, another learned the difference between a badger sett and a fox hole, whilst the final group enjoyed getting VERY muddy by jumping in a big mud puddle for an hour!

This wasn’t the only fun though. To complete their discover and explore sections, the students took part in a variety of activities, such as fire lighting, den building, bridge building, games and crafts.

Next step was conserve, from which each group got to decide what they were going to do to improve their green space. Finally, they created a presentation of their preference and shared it with their friends, teachers and family.

All 33 students came away with a personal certificate and a sense of achievement. The award encouraged them to work together, communicate, create something to share and build a connection with nature.

The next stage of the John Muir Award is the Explorer Level… who will be the first group to achieve this?…

TameFest’s third year of successful celebration!

The community came together to  celebrate the landscape and heritage of the Tame Valley Wetlands for the third year in a row at TameFest 2017 on Saturday 27th May.

The bank holiday weekend event saw approximately 2,500 people at Tamworth Castle Grounds, enjoying the fun and friendly atmosphere.

Hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS), TameFest provided the community with a taster of what the area has to offer through a variety of stalls, entertainment and activities. This included wattle & daub making, willow swords crafting, wildlife games and close encounters with hedgehogs.

Rita Gries,  Tame Valley Wetlands LPS Community & Events Officer said “We are really pleased with the event and the feedback we received. Many visitors commented on how friendly and buzzing the atmosphere was, and said they’d had a lovely day”.

Sadie Chapman, whose business, Staffie Central UK, had a stall at TameFest said “We were really impressed by the day! As we are local to Tamworth, we are always looking to create new contacts within to community and TameFest was the perfect event to make that happen”.

Philippa Truman, Membership Engagement Officer for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said “Warwickshire Wildlife Trust had a great time at Tamefest, encouraging people to sign up for 30 Days Wild this June. Visitors loved getting stuck in to making fatball bird feeders and playing hook –a-native duck”.

The Mayor of Tamworth, Councillor John Chesworth and his wife, Mayoress Tereasa Chesworth, also enjoyed the day. Both got involved in the activities, met stallholders and spoke to members of the public.

The Major of Tamworth said “TameFest was a fantastic free event which really showcased some of the good work that goes on in areas, such as our Local Nature Reserves. It was great to meet some really interesting people and learn about conservation in and around Tamworth. I know that the event have grown year by year, and I hope it is something that could return to the Castle Grounds next time around”.

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.

To see photos taken on the day, visit the Tame Valley Wetlands on Facebook. For more information on the Tame Valley Wetlands and the many other free events that are available, please explore www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.