Ouse Washes Mosaics on show

 

logosOver the past three months members of the public have been working alongside professional artists Carolyn Ash to produce three stunning mosaic murals depicting the Ouse Washes landscape. The murals will be installed at the three sites where they were created, Mepal Outdoor Centre, Denver Sluice and Welney Wetland Centre.

However, before the go off to their permanent homes there is a special chance to see all there together on Sunday 16th November from 10am to 3.30pm at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.

This will also be an opportunity to meet Carolyn, see a display of photos of the murals being created and to enjoy a host of activities being offered that weekend as part of the centre’s Festival of Swans.

 

The murals were created as part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, and funded by the Heritage Lottery. The scheme was established to raise awareness and encourage greater local engagement with the washes.

 

The mural project was managed by ADeC (Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire).  Nathan Jones of ADeC said:

“This has been the most wonderful project to be involved with. It has been a real privilege to work at the three sites and we have been delighted by the response of the local communities. Six different schools helped with the murals and they should be very proud of their contribution.”

 

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For the latest information on the mural projects and a range of images of the three stunning murals, see also https://www.facebook.com/OWLPCommunityMurals

 

Free Swan Researcher Workshops with WWT Welney

logosWould you like to become a trained volunteer with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust? Look no further!

 

As part of the WWT Welney Wetlands Centre’s project within the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnerships scheme, called ‘Species Identification & Monitoring’, a series of workshops are now being organised so that you can also become a trained swan researcher – join the WWT Welney at 21 or 22 November:

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Or download the poster here: Swan ring reading workshop 1

 

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Mural creation at WWT Welney 13 – 18 Oct – do join in!

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Ouse Washes Community Murals Project

FREE Drop-in mosaic-making workshops:

Monday 13 October – 18 October 10 am – 3.30 pm daily

WWT Welney Wetland Centre | Hundred Foot Bank | Welney | Norfolk | PE14 9TN

 

Our final mural for the Ouse Washes Community Murals Project will be created in the inspiring setting of the Welney Wetland Centre.

Come along and join in the FREE drop-in workshops to help make the mural: you can suggest ideas for the design, help with drawing and planning and learn how to to turn it into a fabulous outdoor mosaic which will go on permanent display in the grounds at Welney.

Expert mural artist, Carolyn Ash, will guide you through the process. You can stay as long as you like – for a few minutes or several hours, if you wish. No experience is necessary as Carolyn will help you with all aspects of this popular and absorbing activity. All ages and levels of skill are welcome. The murals previously created for Mepal Outdoor Centre and Denver Sluice will be on display to inspire you – what will you create for Welney?

 

The workshops are free and you can drop in any time during the sessions from Monday 13 October – Saturday 18 October. Times are as follows: Monday, Thurs, Sat 10am – 3.30pm Tuesday 10am—12.30pm Wednesday & Friday 2pm—8pm

 Look out for further information on Ouse Washes murals Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OWLPCommunityMurals

Check the Facebook page too for any changes to advertised times and for any additional after school workshops.

Contact: Nathan Jones: E nathan.jones@adec.org.uk T 01353 616995 W http://www.adec.org.uk

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Wonderful mural created with the aid of 120 school children and local residents, recently finished at Denver Sluice Complex. Image: Christine Pike/ ADeC

 

ADeC murals workshop poster

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Autumn and Winter events at Welney WWT

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Welney Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is holding a series of fascinating wildlife and rural crafts events and workshops – wildlife photography, garden and willow structures and Christmas decorations, and watching, feeding and learning about swans from October to April. All of this is happening at the Welney Wetland Centre, Welney, Hundred Foot Bank, Norfolk, PE14 9TN. Take a look at these posters, take your picks and enjoy!

WWT Welney wildlife photography workshops 2014:

Welney WWT wildlife photography

Welney WWT wildlife photography

Willow workshops at WWT Welney poster:

Welney WWT willow and garden and decoration workshops

Welney WWT willow and garden and decoration workshops

WWT Welney Swans awake events 2014-15:

Welney WWT swan watching at dawn

Welney WWT swan watching at dawn

WWT Welney Swan feeds 2014-15:

Welney WWT opportunities to feed and learn about swans

Welney WWT opportunities to feed and learn about swans

 

Ouse Washes Experience – What a great event it was

logosThis Sunday the long-awaited Ouse Washes Experience was held, a cycle, walk or run from WWT Welney reserve to RSPB Welches Dam.

What a great day it was! My colleague Abby was there all day with display and leaflets at WWT Welney, and then helping the main organisers, the Ely Hereward Rotary Club, with serving participants some well-deserved teas and biscuits at the end of the journey.

A total of c. 60 people participated, mainly on bicycle, some groups walking and a few runners. Not bad at all for an entirely new event and for an area where similar events have simply never been organised before. All in all, a great day out in the countryside, getting people to see a part of their world most participants had not seen yet (but, according to the people I spoke to, they certainly enjoyed!).

I also joined an interesting discussion with MP Steve Barclay who showed up in the morning at WWT Welney; he commented on how great such initiatives are for getting people to use the countryside and explore the wonderful landscape in this area.

I did the c. 6 mile run myself as well, on the Environment Agency maintenance track (specifically opened up for cyclists and walkers for this event) and partly on top of the bank along the Ouse Washes itself  – great views over the landscape and a wonderful tranquil experience.

Well done everyone and all organisations who have made this event possible – see you again next year!

Registration point (2)

Registration at WWT Welney Centre. Image: Emma Brand, WWT

Steve Barclay, Mark Nokkert and John Yates (8)

MP Steve Barclay, John Yates (Ely Hereward Rotary Club), and myself, ready to run. Image: Emma Brand, WWT.

Sharing some images of this great day with you here:

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Participants starting their cycle ride or walk from WWT Welney. Image: Emma Brand, WWT

 

 

 

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Arrival at Welches Dam, the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve.

 

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Ted Coney, our oldest participant, just arrived at Welches Dam.

 

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Group of walkers from Specsavers in March, walking for the Each Anglia charity just arriving after a long walk.

 

Fabulous Community Murals Project

Arts Development East Cambridgeshire (ADeC) are kicking off this exciting project on Bank Holiday Monday 25th August 2014.

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Professional mosaic artist, Carolyn Ash will be working with the community, their pottery/ crockery items, some ‘spare’ museum pieces, found materials and mosaic-ware to create some fabulous permanent murals at Mepal Outdoor Centre, Denver Sluice and WWT Welney.  Postcards, and mini postboxes, will be placed at these sites for ideas for the murals or just turn up on any of the workshop days – it’s all FREE!

ADeC murals workshop poster

Download the poster here

All workshops are from 10 am till 3.30pm – wear clothes you can create in!

Mepal Outdoor Centre (Chatteris Road, Mepal, Ely, CB6 2AZ)

BH Mon 25th – Fri 29th August & Monday 1st September

Denver Sluice (PE38 0EQ/ 9QP follow the signs)

Mon 22nd – Sat 27th September

Whilst at Denver Sluice you may also want to sample the food and drink available at the Jenyns Arms (do check opening times though) and also at the wonderful Denver windmill.  There is also a golf and a sailing/rowing club in the area, a smattering of walking routes and some nice interpretation panels dotted around.  It would make a great day out with lovely lunches and afternoon tea available at the Mill which is only a short walk from the Environment Agency Sluice complex.  Spending a little time at Denver really helps highlight the man-made nature of this landscape.

WWT Welney (Hundred Foot Bank, Welney, Nr. Wisbech, PE14 9TN)

Monday 13th October – Saturday 18th October

The café and interpretation areas at Welney are excellent, with a charge for visiting the reserve proper (over the arching bridge – link to earlier blog post) but lots to see and do in the centre and shop if you have time or come back another day!

These practical, hands-on workshops mark the start of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme’s projects and activities, with the murals made with local people forming a lasting record of this landscape steeped in history and brimming with biodiversity that brings us bang up-to-date!  The murals will be mounted permanently at their making sites with related activities taking place during Festival Fortnight (20 – 31st July 2015 and in 2016 too).  Look out for more information on our activities via this blog.

Murals workshops: contact Nathan.jones@adec.org.uk for further information

See also the mural project’s own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OWLPCommuntiyMurals

New job for Ouse Washes LP scheme with WWT Welney – apply now

LogosA new job with the Wildlfowl and Wetlands Trust has just been put online!

The post is for a 30 hr/wk position based at the WWT Welney reserve, for 14 months. This position is paid for through the Heritage Lottery Grant funding the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme.

The Project Officer will be responsible for delivering one of the two WWT’s projects within the OWLP scheme, the ‘Great Ouse Wetland Engagement Project’ which has at its main aim to ‘help develop the Great Ouse Wetland (GOW) as part of the OWLP area, in order to form a unified destination for local and visitor audiences interested in enjoying and engaging with the natural heritage of the area and the human history that created and maintains it’.

This is a key project within the OWLP scheme as it links in with other OWLP projects and the wider OWLP scheme ambitions of promotion of the area’s landscape and significant heritage to a wide audience.

This will be an exciting project as it will contain, amongst others, the installation of new exhibition materials, a Green Screen, the creation of wildlife films together with volunteers and visitors, and working across all nature reserves and other conservation organisations in the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area. A range of community engagement and outreach work, including working with local schools and community groups, will also be part of this project and position.

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The main purpose of the job is described as such: ‘Working within the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP), supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to run and deliver a wildlife media production project promoting the Great Ouse Wetland and the Ouse Washes LP landscape as a wildlife destination, through showing changing wildlife throughout the year and involving characters from the community as presenters. The role is also responsible for the marketing of the project and the content to media and the tourism industry’.

‘WWT is seeking an enthusiastic videographer to join our team, producing a series of engaging short wildlife videos, depicting the story of a year in the life of a stunning wetland region. Our ideal candidate will be a persuasive and engaging communicator, very interested in wildlife and happy to work around its schedules, and will have good news & media sense’.

How to apply?

To apply for this exciting new job, please go to the WWT’s website, http://jobs.wwt.org.uk/vacancies/388/media_production_officer_great_ouse_wetland_project_fixed_term_contract/ where you can also download the job description and apply online. The closing date for applications is 12 July 2014.

You can also download the job spec here: Media_Production_Officer_Great_Ouse_Project2

 

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Wildlife Safaris at WWT Welney reserve

LogosComing up soon at WWT Welney Wetland Centre: Wetland Safaris!

Put it in your diary already – first one coming up on Easter Bank Holiday, Monday 21 April. For more information and to see what else is on, check the WWT Welney’s website at http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/whats-on/

Safaris at WWT Welney

 

Upcoming events at the OWLP wetland reserves

LogosSpring is definitely in the air, and many new events are being organised in the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area’s wetland reserves.

This Saturday 22 March (tomorrow, from 2-5, you can join the Warden at RSPB Ouse Fen for a ‘Reedbed Ramble’, to find out all about the ongoing conversion of the Hanson Quarry into a wetland habitat:

For more information, see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-354396

Next week Sunday 30 March, WWT Welney is organising a special Mother’s Day lunch; make sure to book early:

Mothers Day WWT Welney 2014

for more information, see also: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/whats-on/2014/03/30/mothers-day-lunch/

More walking can be done at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes on Tuesday 4 April,  from 2 to 3 PM, for an organised Health Walk: http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-359203

Fen Drayton Lakes Great Crested Grebes @Neildethridge Mar 13 2014

Fen Drayton Lakes: Great Crested Grebes. Picture by Neil Dethridge @Neildethridge March 2014

50th Swanniversary!

LogosThe Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is celebrating its 50th Swanniversary!

This is the celebration of 50 years of successful research on the Bewick’s swans, one of the WWT’s iconic animals.

Sir Peter Scott’s great idea

The study started on 11 February 1964 when the conservationist Sir Peter Scott started painting the swans on the lake outside his window, close to the salt marshes near Slimbridge.

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Bust of Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWT, at WWT Welney. Photograph: Cambridgeshire ACRE.

He noticed that the swans can be recognised individually as they each have a unique bill pattern of black and yellow markings. He meticulously recorded each swan that visited.

He appreciated that natural markings could be used as a powerful tool for the study of the migratory Bewick’s swans. Scott’s research has formed the basis for a very unique study which has grown into an important international population study in a collaboration that continues to this day.

As a result of the collaborative studies, the Nenetskiy National Nature Reserve in Russia, an important breeding area for the swans, was also given protected status in the 1990s.

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Unique bill patterns of Bewick’s Swans: original 1960s drawings as recorded by Sir Peter Scott. Source: https://www.wwt.org.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bill-patterns.jpg

Even though more traditional tagging of the birds and – more recently – GPS tracking are also used in the study of the Bewick’s swans, the bill pattern recognition is still of utmost importance in this study – all down to Peter Scott’s original idea.

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Unique bill patterns of Bewick’s swans. Information panel at WWT Welney. Photograph: Cambridgeshire ACRE.

Swanniversary celebrations at WWT Welney Reserve

This Wednesday I was invited for a celebratory event at WWT Welney Reserve. Besides the delicious muffins in the WWT Welney café (do try them!) we were also treated with informative presentations from the WWT’s Chairman Sir George Russell; The Centre Manager at WWT Welney, Leigh Marshall; the Head of UK Waterbird Conservation, Eileen Rees; and Dafila Scott, WWT Vice President (who is Sir Peter Scott’s daughter). Dafila explored her personal memories of her childhood at Slimbridge, how she helped to paint and name dozens of swans, and her subsequent life-long interest in swan migrations and family patterns.

Recent changes at the WWT Welney Reserve

Leigh Marshall gave an overview of all the major, positive changes that the WWT Reserve has seen in just the last six years, since the new eco building was erected: two new hides, almost all footpaths having been resurfaced and made more accessible, and a dragonfly pond has been installed. In addition only in the last few years new land has been acquired to the east of the reserve centre: Lady Fen and Bank Farm, together accounting for c 200 ha of new wetland.

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Lady Fen to the east of WWT Wetland reserve centre, hugely important for swans and wader birds. Source: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/welney/dont-miss/lady-fen-and-bank-farm/

Currently, works are taking place to convert the adjacent 100 ha of former farmland into wetland; a new hide is also planned. Although still very much developing, these new wetlands have already proven to be vital for such rare wader species as the Black-tailed gotwit of which 45 of the 50 UK breeding pairs breed at the Welney Washes [More about this great story in a separate post to come].

The future of the Bewick’s swans

Bewick’ swans numbers have gradually grown until they peaked in 1995 around 30,000 internationally. since then, there has been a rapid decline in numbers: currently there are only c18,000 Bewick’s swans left in the world.

In order to counteract this decline, international efforts have been stepped up: the last few years saw, for instance, the production of an international Bewick’s swan Action Plan which will be implemented over the next few years. This Action Plan has been drawn up with conservation colleague in numerous countries, including The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Russia, and was adopted by the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement in 2012. It is hoped that, through combined efforts, the population will reach healthy numbers again in the future: the aim is to halt the decline and maintain the population at 23,000 birds or above.

Changing weather patterns: lower numbers of Bewick’s swans at Welney

One of the changes that have been affecting the Bewick’s swans is the rapidly altering weather pattern we have been experiencing lately. With milder winters, fewer birds migrate all the way to the UK to overwinter, from their breeding grounds in Siberia.

As a result, this winter the lowest number of Bewick’s swans have been recorded at Slimbridge since 1965. At the Ouse Washes, where most of the UK Bewick’s swans congregate in the winter, this year has also seen a record-low number of c1,000 only whereas in a ‘normal’ year c5,000 turn up.

As a result of the internationally co-ordinated research we know that this winter many birds did not migrate any further than Germany: also The Netherlands, usually the last ‘stop’ before Bewick’s swans move on to the UK have seen record low numbers: whereas the Netherlands usually is host to 70% of the total Northwest European population they have only counted 4,800 Bewick’s swans this winter, down from the usual c13,000.

All of this may not be as bad as it seems: as the birds do not have to fly as much and do not experience harsh weather this winter, the birds are likely to remain stronger and thus, when back in Siberia in their breeding grounds, may actually turn out an above-average numbers of young. We will find out next year…

Further information

For further information about the Swanniversary, also see the following links:

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