Category Archives: Featured

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

 

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.

 

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.

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.