Category Archives: News

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.

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?…

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.

 

Visitor Centre gets a facelift

It’s all change this summer, as Kingsbury Water Park’s visitor centre, near Tamworth, gets a face-lift as part of a multi-million pound scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Please see below for information on when the centre will be opening to the public.

Kingsbury Water Park, owned and managed by Warwickshire County Council, sits at the heart of the Tame Valley Wetlands, an extraordinary area of lakes, ponds, rivers and canals between Tamworth and Birmingham.

The 250 hectare country park is renowned for its wildlife and is one of the area’s most popular attractions; over 300,000 people visit the site each year to enjoy the park’s lakes, woodlands, way marked trails and activities.

As part of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the park’s visitor centre is getting an £80,000 makeover and will be re-branded as “The Gateway to the Tame Valley Wetlands”.

Working with consultant ABG Design, the project, with funding from Warwickshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, has redesigned the interior and exterior of the building with a range of interpretation panels, interactive displays and maps detailing the wildlife, landscape and heritage of the area. The interior layout of the building has also been re-organised to make it more user-friendly. Visitors will be encouraged to explore and discover the park and the wider Tame Valley Wetlands.

Tame Valley Wetlands LP Scheme Manager, Tim Haselden said:

Working with our partners at Warwickshire County Council, we are transforming the inside and outside of the visitor centre to help visitors to better understand and appreciate both the park and the wider landscape. Kingsbury Water Park will act as a gateway to explore the Tame Valley Wetlands.

The work to transform the centre will be carried out during May 2017. The centre will re-open with a soft launch in the week of 15th May (likely to open to the public on Wednesday 17th May), with an official opening on Saturday 1st July. Watch this space for more details about the opening.

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.

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.