The new Ouse Washes LP Website is Live!!

Today is a very exciting day as we are finally able to share our new website with the world!

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Website screen capture home page 18 12 2014

Please pass on the message to others: www.ousewashes.org.uk

 

This website is intended to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for local people and visitors to explore the Ouse Washes Landscape:

  • Explore the Ouse Washes LP area’s tourist attractions, nature reserves and museums in more detail through our interactive Explore map;
  • Find out what’s going on in the area through our What’s on section;
  • Find out how you can get involved through our projects, events and our volunteering options in our Get Involved section
  • Find out what makes the Ouse Washes LP area special, by reading through our Discover section;
  • The Ouse News is our old WordPress blog incorporated in this new website – keep up to date of all new events, project development and information about the area though this newsreel
  • And a lot more – go on, find out for yourself!

 

Do let us know what you think about the new website – we want this to be useful for you, so please help us make things better – drop us a line through the Contact section.

 

Happy reading!

 

Press release: Press release_New website for Ouse Washes Landscape now live!

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

 

Migration Stories: Wintering Birds at Welney

Heritage Lottery FundFollowing on from my previous post, I did go to Welney Wetland Centre on Saturday to find out what was going on for World Wetlands Day.

The midday swan feeding session was, I was reliably told, certainly not as it turns out normally. Where only a week ago there was dry land, this had now turned into a choppy and rather deep lake, coming right up to the base of the main observatory.

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Sam Lee, WWT’s Public Engagement Officer feeding birds in rather high waters

I felt sorry for Sam Lee, the Public Engagement Officer at the Welney Wetland Centre who carried out the swan feeding this time: she was in quite deep water, meanwhile miraculously keeping a wheelbarrow afloat whilst also skillfully feeding the birds. Despite the difficult circumstances she did a great job. See also this news item in the Cambridge News

Due to the choppy northwestern beating against the shore, fewer birds showed up than would normally have been the case. We were nevertheless treated at several hundred Pochards and tens of Swans. In addition, a couple of Cormorants flew by and a Marsh Harrier was busy hunting in the distance. I am sure that people with the right gear spotted many more species – loads of bird species are being recorded at Welney throughout the year.

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Wheelchair access paths have been temporarily suspended at Welney- the swans don’t seem to mind

The Ouse Washes hold the UK’s largest roost of Whooper and Bewick’s swans. These birds have gone through incredible migrations from their breeding grounds in Iceland (Whooper Swans) and Arctic Siberia (Bewick’s Swans) to arrive at their winter refuge. In a good year, up to 5,000 Whooper swans and 3,000 Bewick’s swans make the Ouse Washes their seasonal home.

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Plenty of Polchards around

The Ouse Washes support numerous wintering and breeding bird species. The area is well-protected through several designation systems: not only are the Ouse Washes a Ramsar site, as explained in the previous post,  it is also an SPA (Special Area of Protection), a designation focusing specifically on birds; SPAs form an important element of the European Natura 2000 network. Furthermore, it is designated by the national SSSI designation (Site of Special Scientific Interest). If you would want to know more about these designations, look here for the information on the Ouse Washes SSSI and look here for information on the Ouse Washes SPA.

The fact that the Ouse Washes are so well protected, both nationally and internationally, does not necessarily mean that it all works perfectly fine. In fact, only 19% of the Ouse Washes SSSI is deemed to be in ‘favourable condition’ or ‘unfavourable, but recovering condition’. See for all stats on the condition of the Ouse Washes SSSI here. The Government’s Public Service Agreement (PSA) target is to have 95% of the SSSI area in the UK in favourable or recovering condition. The 19% for the Ouse Washes compares with the current 94% for all East of England SSSIs taken together.

The reasons why most of the Ouse Washes SSSI is deemed unfavourable are multiple and complex. It is something I will be reporting on over the next few months in various future posts.

cropped-swans-at-welney-copyright-philip-colmer-istock.jpg

World Wetlands Week

Heritage Lottery FundComing Saturday, 02 February, is World Wetlands Day. This is part of World Wetland Week, which runs from 01-05 February.

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World Wetlands Day 2 February 2013 – http://www.ramsar.org

Although these days every week seems to have been nominated for a particular theme, I nevertheless thought it important to draw your attention to this one. On this day 42 years ago the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention was adopted. The Ramsar Convention has as its mission “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. The main aim for individual governments is to maintain the ecological character of designated wetlands and to plan for their “wise use”, or sustainable use.

The Ouse Washes forms the majority of the Ouse Washes LP area, as can be seen in this map. The Ouse Washes (designated Ramsar site) forms one of the UK’s most important wetland areas, so dramatically photographed as seen in my previous post.

The site is designated as it is one of the most extensive areas of seasonally-flooding washland of its type in Britain.The site also supports a diverse assemblage of nationally rare breeding waterfowl associated with seasonally-flooding wet grassland. In addition, the Ouse Washes holds relict fenland fauna, including the British Red Data Book species large darter dragonfly Libellula fulva and the rifle beetle Oulimnius major. The site also supports several nationally scarce plants. Further reasons why the Ouse Washes are designated can be found in this document.

Ouse Washes - aerial view towards Welney

Ouse Washes seen from the air, looking north towards Welney

The Ouse Washes is one of England’s 71 internationally designated Ramsar sites. Look here for an overview of all Ramsar sites in England. Further information about the criteria to understand why these sites are designated can be found here.

So, what’s happening on World Wetlands Day in the Ouse Washes? Of course, the RSPB reserves at Fen Drayton, Ouse Fen and Ouse Washes can always be visited, but a specific programme has been set up at the Wildfowl & Wetland’s Trust’s Welney Wetland Centre. For Welney’s full-day programme for this Saturday, look here. Activities are planned throughout the day, and include wild swan feeds, walks with the warden to see brown hares, a sustainability tour of the visitor centre, and a wetland-themed poetry workshop. See you there!

Ouse Washes - Flooded

Flooded Ouse Washes, Spring 2012