Category Archives: Blog

Tamworth to welcome popular heritage event, TameFest!

TameFest 2017 will take place on Tamworth Castle Grounds, on Saturday 27th May for its biggest edition yet.

Hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS), TameFest is a fun event showcasing the vibrant heritage and landscape of the Tame Valley Wetlands area. Tamworth residents and travellers from further afield will be able to enjoy a range of family friendly activities, entertainment and shopping provided by local groups, businesses and charities, all for free.

TameFest has been on a journey through the Tame Valley Wetlands area since 2015. The first ever edition took place in Coleshill and welcomed over 750 people. Moving on up the River Tame to Kingsbury Water Park in 2016, it saw over 1,500 people attend, doubling it in size within a year. This year, it will take place on the scenic grounds of Tamworth Castle.

Rita Gries, Community and Events Officer at the Tame Valley Wetlands LPS said “We’re very excited about this year’s Tamefest. We will have the mix of shopping, food and fun educational activities that proved popular in the past years, from stone carving demonstrations to circus skills workshops. For the first time, we’ve also invited some out-of-time characters such as a pair of Saxon peasants and a Victorian “Bobby”. We’re hoping people will have a great time and learn something new about the area they live in!”

Tamefest runs from 11am to 4pm on the upper and lower lawns of Tamworth Castle. Entry is free of charge and most activities will be free. Dogs are welcome but must be on a lead at all times. For more information on the stalls, activities and performances that will be present, visit www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/tamefest-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.

 

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.

 

Quotes requested for production of way marking posts

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme c/o Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is requesting suppliers to quote for the production and supply of way marking posts for its access improvement programme.

Date of Issue: 3rd May 2017.

Quote Deadline: 12th May 2017 (midday).

Client: Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LP-11-04927) c/o Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (Lead Partner), Hams Hall Environmental Centre, Off Canton Lane, Hams Hall Distribution Park, Coleshill, North Warwickshire B46 1GA.

Contact: Dafydd Jones, Access Improvement Officer  ;  dafydd.jones@wkwt.org.uk  ;  01675 470 917.

Job: We require quotes for the production and delivery of the following way markers specifications:

  • 40 No. of 100mm x 100mm x 2400mm green oak, 4 way weather topped with a single image routed onto each side (supplied by client). The top section painted yellow (RGB 252, 235, 16).
  • 15 No. of 100mm x 100mm x 2400mm green oak, 4 way weather topped with a single image routed onto each side (supplied by client). The top section painted blue (RGB 20, 74, 248).
  • 15 No. of 100mm x 100mm x 2400mm green oak, 4 way weather topped with a single image routed onto each side (supplied by client). The top section painted white.
  • The painted area to be 250mm down the length from the tip of 4 way weather top of post. The routed image is a single image, routed onto 4 sides of the way marking post – position to be determined prior to start of contract.
  • Delivery to B46 1GA in two phases – 40 x yellow within 6-8 week period from order date, with remaining 30 delivered within 12 weeks from order date.
  • Please specify whether your quote is inclusive or exclusive of VAT.

Selection of Supplier: This will be based on evidence of appropriate skills, experience and track record, as well as environmental sustainability (e.g. FSC approved oak), cost and value for money.

BBC Countryfile visits the Tame Valley Wetlands

The BBC’s most popular rural show visited North Warwickshire in search of Britain’s fastest declining mammal, the water vole, discovering the hidden landscape of the Tame Valley Wetlands on their way.

BBC Countryfile filming along the canal © Ebony Chapman, TVWLPS 2017

On Sunday 30th April’17, BBC Countryfile teamed up with the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to discuss the landscape-scale projects that are helping to bring water voles back from the brink of extinction.

Water voles once thrived in the Tame Valley Wetlands – a unique, watery landscape between Birmingham and Tamworth (click here to find out more about the Tame Valley Wetlands). However over the last few decades water voles have been wiped out due to habitat loss, poisoning and predation by the non-native invasive American mink. Now, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and help from local volunteers and landowners, the Tame Valley Wetlands LPS is putting measures in place to help restore the landscape, encouraging the return of this iconic animal in the process.

The Water Vole © Dean Eburne 2017

Water voles can still be found just outside the Tame Valley Wetlands around Atherstone and Nuneaton. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is working to improve habitat connectivity to help populations survive and spread further into the Tame Valley via the Coventry Canal and River Anker.

New BBC Countryfile presenter Steve Brown came to visit one of the Trust’s most innovative ideas – to create water vole ‘motels’ along the Coventry Canal, which are made up of natural coir rolls full of water vole-friendly plants. They line up adjacent to the steel erosion guards, which are used to protect the canal banks but ultimately stop water voles from being able to get out…until now.

Presenter Steve Brown with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Tim Precious © Ebony Chapman, TVWLPS 2017

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Wetland Officer, Tim Precious said “A big part of our National Lottery funded water vole project is to encourage water voles to disperse out from strongholds that have developed in North Warwickshire in recent years,. The ‘water vole motels’ act as crucial stepping stones along poor habitat helping water voles to move into uninhabited areas like the Tame Valley Wetlands. Importantly, this increases the long-term sustainability of our regional population making sure we can continue to enjoy watching these beloved little mammals busying themselves on the river and canal bank far into the future.”

The Tame Valley Wetlands LPS is also using coir mats and rolls to improve habitat, as well as re-naturalising sections of the River Tame and its floodplain, where water voles will hopefully soon call home. BBC Countryfile visits one of the scheme’s latest projects at Kingsbury Water Park where a new 6 hectare community wetland has been created with the help of funding from the Environment Agency, Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award and the Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust.

Filming in the Tame Valley Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park © Ebony Chapman, TVWLPS 2017

Tame Valley Wetlands LPS Scheme Manager, Tim Haselden said “We had a great day out with the BBC Countryfile team showing them just what an amazing and hidden landscape we have and how it has undergone such change over the last century. With river water quality improving and the work we’re delivering in partnership over a large area, we are hopeful that water voles, along with many other species, will be flourishing again in the area soon.”

Countryfile’s Warwickshire adventure aired on BBC One at 7pm on Sunday 30th April’17.

Missed it?  Catch-up on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here (we’re exactly 16 minutes into the show).

The Tame Valley Wetlands LPS is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund with the vision of creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with 22 organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

 

Notes for Editors:
1. The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership (TVWLP) has a vision of creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. There are 22 organisations on the Partnership and the Board consists of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (Lead Partner), the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency, North Warwickshire Borough Council, the RSPB, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Warwickshire County Council.

2. The Tame Valley Wetlands (Landscape Partnership) Scheme will be delivered by the TVWLP between 2014 and 2018. The Partnership will receive £1.7 million funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, enabling a £2.5 million scheme to be delivered, which aims to restore built and natural heritage and reconnect local people with their landscape. The scheme covers a 104 km² area of the Tame Valley Wetlands between Birmingham and Tamworth, in North Warwickshire and south-east Staffordshire.

Work will focus on conserving and enhancing approximately 50 hectares of river and wetland habitat and restoring two Grade II listed structures on the canal network. The scheme includes the development of the Tame Way – linking, enhancing and promoting a network of footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes between Birmingham and Tamworth. Plans are also in place for a new interpretation centre at Kingsbury Water Park and an interactive website and phone app, providing easily accessible information and resources to help people explore and discover the Tame Valley Wetlands.

The initiative will also provide volunteering and training opportunities for local people and support groups working to look after their local area. A series of events and activities will also be delivered, with the aim of engaging with hundreds of school children, young people and members of the public. Informal training will be provided through taster days, with the chance for people to learn new skills and improve their CVs through more formal, accredited training programmes.

Wetlands provide a vital role in reducing flooding and improving water quality, whilst their biodiversity-rich habitats also provide an important home for wildlife and a place for sensitive recreation and relaxation. The Tame Valley Wetlands are a ‘blue lung’ in an area of the country otherwise dominated by transport routes and development.

3. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) is the lead partner on the TVWLP. The Trust is the largest local conservation charity working across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. Their main purpose is to promote the interests of wildlife, wild places and the natural environment for the wider benefit of society, people and local communities. They promote a better natural environment for local wildlife and local people as part of the aim to create a Living Landscape in the West Midlands where wildlife and local people can live and thrive together. WWT manages 61 nature reserves, covering over 800 hectares and is a voluntary membership organisation supported by more than 23,000 individual members, over 20 corporate members and over 700 volunteers. For more information, visit www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk.

4. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, they invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK. For more information, visit www.hlf.org.uk.

Quotes requested for the creation of trail guides

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme requires the design and creation of a series of engaging, fun and informative trail guides / walk leaflets.

A Brief outlining the work required is available to download here.

Consultants are invited to quote for the work outlined in the Brief by midnight on Sunday 30 April 2017.

For more information, please contact us.

Discover, explore and conserve – a John Muir Award Tale

Students at the Kingsbury School have been on a journey of discovery with the Tame Valley Wetlands as they explored their local country park as part of their John Muir Award. Working through the stages of ‘Discover’, ‘Explore’, ‘Conserve’ and ‘Share’, 12 students made the Community Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park their base for their outdoor adventure.

The John Muir Award is a national environmental award, open to anyone. It encourages communities to explore and care for their local wild spaces, and share their discoveries along the way. The students from Kingsbury School spent 5 weeks completing their award, culminating in a presentation which they have shared with the rest of their school. Activities throughout the journey were decided upon and led by the students, and included building a bridge to cross a stream, fitting coir mats to improve the vegetation growth on the Community Wetlands, installing kingfisher nest boxes and learning to light fires using natural materials to ensure a ready supply of hot chocolate!

Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands had this to say about the programme:

It has been great to see the students improve in confidence and ability throughout the award. They have learnt about the natural world on their doorstep, and have developed a care and understanding for their local areas through engaging with the environment and having fun outdoors.

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. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is a partner on this project, employing a Youth Engagement Officer to improve outdoor youth provision in the Scheme area.

Make a Difference in Conservation, Train for Free!

Local people are being offered a FREE, nationally recognised qualification in Environmental & Heritage Conservation.


Courtesy of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS), people of all ages, looking for a new career path or wanting to gain new skills and experience, can now take part in practical conservation training, for no cost at all!This fantastic opportunity allows people to take advantage of the health benefits of socialising and being outside, whilst learning at their own pace. The courses available cover a variety of levels and completion times, from one day short courses in identifying freshwater invertebrates, through to longer courses lasting between six and nine months.

Simon Lowe, Training and Education Officer said:

“We are really excited at the chance to be able to offer this great training opportunity free of charge. We are delighted to be able to offer local people the chance to gain a qualification which may help them find future employment in the conservation sector. Whether you are out of work or looking to change career, our training courses can give you that vital, practical and hands on experience that employers are looking for!”

Tame Valley Wetlands LPS courses available include:

City and Guilds

Level Two – Certificate in Work-Based Environmental Conservation.

Open College Network West Midlands Region

Level One Award and Certificate in Environmental Conservation and Heritage

Level Two Award and Certificate in Environmental Conservation and Heritage

These training courses are part of the Tame Valley Wetlands LPS 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 over 20 organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

For more information on the training courses provided, visit www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk or contact Simon Lowe, Training and Education Officer, at training@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk /01675 470917.

Invasive Species Week 27th March – 2nd April

This week is Invasive Species Week, hosted by NNIS (Non-native invasive species). Would like to know more about them specifically? Pop over to their website here – NNIS


The agenda for Invasive Species Week and how you can get involved!:

Monday – Welcome to Invasive Species Week!
Tuesday – Biosecurity
Wednesday – Identification and recording
Thursday – Local Action Groups
Friday – Other projects


Monday – Welcome to Invasive Species Week!

This week is non-native species week.  There are a number of non-native species which are found in the Tame Valley Wetlands area.  These species have a devastating effect on our local flora and fauna which affects the balance of our native ecosystem.

Some of these species you will know as grey squirrel, American mink, Signal Crayfish, Plants:- Himalayan Balsam, Japenese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, floating pennywort, new Zealand pygmy weed, Asian hornet.

If you want to find out more about these species and their negative effect on our environment, visit www.nonnativespecies.org for helpful identification guides and measures you can put in place to prevent the spread of them and educate others.

 

Tuesday – Biosecurity

Biosecurity measures on sites where there are known non-native species are essential to prevent the spread of them in the environment.  Non-native species can unknowingly be transported from one waterbody to another.  One easy and simple measure to put in place is to follow the Check Clean Dry campaign. http://www.nonnativespecies.org/checkcleandry/index.cfm#

CHECK your equipment and clothing for contamination eg boats, fishing equipment, wellies, tyres on vehicles (hard to reach places).

CLEAN your equipment thoroughly onsite with clean water, if you find any organisms, leave them at the  waterbody where they were found.

DRY your equipment thoroughly before visiting another site.  Some organisms can live for days in moist conditions.

Remember: Check Clean Dry

Why not use the free e-learning module on biosecurity found here http://www.nonnativespecies.org/elearning/

 

Wednesday – Identification and recording

It is important to identify and record non-native species in the Tame Valley Area.  This helps us track their spread and more importantly, work on management plans to aid removal and put in control measures.  There are some excellent Identification tools online at www.nonnativespecies.org including species fact sheets and free e-learning tool.

Your County Biological Record Centre would also like to know these records.  There are three record centres in the Tame Valley Wetlands depending on where you have seen them:-

Warwickshire  https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/

Staffordshire http://www.staffs-ecology.org.uk/

Birmingham & Black Country  http://www.ecorecord.org.uk/

If you use a smart phone, there are good apps available.  Search for:

Plant tracker  http://www.planttracker.org.uk/

Aquatic Invaders http://www.brc.ac.uk/aquainvaders/home

 

Thursday – Local Action Groups

There are a number of Tame Valley Wetland Partners that undertake management of non-native species.  Why not get involved with a local volunteer group and help out in your local area.

Tame Valley Wetlands – Tameforce (meet every Tuesday)

Natureforce, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (meet every Wednesday)

Kingsbury Water Park Volunteers, Warwickshire County Council (meet every Friday)

RSPB Middleton Lakes (volunteer work party days, various)

Wild about Tamworth volunteer groups, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (once a month),

Your local Angling Clubs

Community Environmental Trust, Castle Vale

West Midlands Bird Club members volunteering

 

Friday – Other projects  STILL WRITING THIS – leave this with me….

Tame Valley Wetlands are working on non-native species control in the scheme area.  This includes

Himalayan Balsam control.

Simple methods of control:

A simple technique to control this plant species which spreads along the river corridor and active floodplains is to pull it out and is known as ‘balsam bashing’.  This activity is done before the plant has time to seed.  The plant is an annual and its root system is easily pulled out of the soil.  Many local action groups use this method of control. Alternatively, cutting the plant down below the first node ensures the plant does not try to regrow back

Why should we do it:

Himalayan Balsam is a prolific plant that spreads quickly, creating monoculture stands of plants which dominate the river and floodplain environment.  The plants grow tall and shade out any native species present.  The plant dies back in winter leaving bare soils which are unconsolidated and that can easily enter the water course during flood events.  Sediments are not good in the river, they can cover important fish spawning habitat and affect freshwater invertebrates populations as well as introduce nutrients into the watercourse promoting algae and weed growth.

American Mink Control

American mink were liberated in the Tame Valley Wetlands scheme area afew decades ago.  The consequence of this unauthorised release was the demise of the local, abundant water vole population.  Currently, water voles are not recorded as present in the scheme area but there have been some potential sightings. American Mink are present and are now also affecting the local wetland birds during breeding season and fisheries. To ensure that water voles can return to the area, mink control is a necessary requirement under the UK Water Vole Steering Group policy, agreed by a number of conservation organisations and relevant government agencies.

With Water vole populations close by on the River Anker and the Coventry Canal, we are confident that with improvement of habitats at historical water voles sites and continued mink control, we are confident that water voles will once again, be a regular site in the Tame Valley Wetlands.