Category Archives: Project updates

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.

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.

Partnership Scheme engages with 2,500 school children!

Since May 2015, Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme has engaged with over 2,500 children from 31 different schools across Birmingham, North Warwickshire and Tamworth.

The children enjoyed a mixture of in-school sessions and field trips to the Tame Valley Wetlands, by learning about a variety of topics, including the Tame Valley’s iconic River Tame.

For those traveling from inner city Birmingham who, in some cases, had never stepped outside the city, these trips were their first discovery of the countryside. Thanks to the Education Team at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the support from Castle Vale Environmental Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the scheme, these children were able to explore more than the urban jungle they have grown up in and have been able to take away precious memories of the Tame Valley Wetlands.

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the Heritage lottery fund. The scheme is also in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including, charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

Tesco Bags for Help Projects

Work has started on the ground to improve walking routes throughout the Tame Valley Wetlands area, thanks to Tesco’s Bags for Help grant scheme, who have gifted £8000 from the 5p plastic bag levy.

A short distance from the urban city of Birmingham, the Tame Valley Wetlands is an ideal spot for city goers to escape the hectic buzz and enjoy the calm of the countryside. With help from Tesco’s funding, two new circular walks are being created, making access to the country easier than ever before!Improvements have already started in Curdworth, Over Green and Wishaw, by replacing way marking posts and installing kissing gates, with the help of Tame Valley’s TameForce volunteer group. Further work is to be carried out around Kingsbury Water Park, Bodymoor Heath and Marston, in preparation for the scenic circular walks.

Leaflets are also being produced to help connect the Tame Valley’s hidden landscape to it’s local community. They will feature the new routes available as well as activities that you can do along the way. Even better yet, they will act as great guides for a family day out that doesn’t cost a single penny!

For further information on the Tesco Bags for Help scheme, click here.

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Tameside LNR welcomes Sand Martins with new Des Res

 

Sand Martins migrating to the Tame Valley now have a new custom made hotel at Tameside Local Nature Reserve, Tamworth a site owned by Tamworth Borough Council and managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group

The artificial sand martin bank was built in February 2017 and will provide a valuable home to this summer visiting bird that migrates from parts of Africa, to breed in the UK.  Sand Martins like to nest in river banks and create burrows that can be as deep as 1m.  However, the unforgiving River Tame rises quickly during summer storm events and this floods the natural nest sites in the river bank.

This vulnerable species now has a new home installed on the edge of the floodplain, with the nest burrow entrances above the flood levels ensuring that our feathered friends have every opportunity to successfully breed and raise their young without the risk of being flooded.

We still have some landscaping work to do but the Sand Martin Hotel is ready and waiting for its first springtime guests to burrow in!

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Partners involved:  Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership – Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Tamworth Borough Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group, Environment Agency

Hedgerow restored at Whitacre Heath SSSI

During January 2017, contractors working for Tame Valley Wetlands restored 170m of native hedgerow using traditional methods at Whitacre Heath SSSI, a site owned and managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

The hedgerow which has been laid had not been managed and was slowly turning into a line of trees.  A well managed hedge should be thick and bushy at the bottom, creating a perfect natural barrier for livestock enclosure.  By laying the hedge now, we will avoid having to coppice it to the ground in the future.

Other benefits include:-

  • Livestock can take shelter behind the hedgerow
  • It becomes an important haven for wildlife, connecting habitats along a linear corridor
  • It is a defining feature of the Warwickshire countryside and provides heritage value
  • A laid hedge will re-grow thicker and will have a longer life span than an un-managed hedge
  • This also increases biodiversity along the hedgerow

Consent from Natural England was granted to lay the hedge and also burn any brash created from the work.

Take a look at the before and after photographs using the slider to see the improvements made.

(Photo © T Doherty 2017)

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Partners involved:  Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership – Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Environment Agency