Thursday, 16 May 2013

Still time to help us with our Community Survey!

Just a few days left to help us with our Community Survey. Please help us find out how much people already know about our community activities by completing our (very short) on-line survey here:
The survey is open until next Friday, 24th May.
Thanks from the Community Team!


Digging, dens and decorating - Bottisham families volunteer at Anglesey Abbey

Four local families and three generations recently spent a half day volunteering in the Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area. The Anglesey and Wicken Community Teams and Bottisham Children's Centre organised the day's activities (moving snowdrops and bluebells, den destruction/reconstruction and decorating wild sculptures) to give the families as varied and enjoyable an experience as possible. David Huse, the 'Big Family Day Off' co-ordinator for the National Trust in the North-West, joined us as part of his information gathering tour, and interns Rachael and Elli got their first experience of a community activity.
A few photos of the family volunteering session:
Trowels at the ready:
Enjoying a break in the tree house:
The biscuits were the best bit:
Working together to take down a den:
Decorating the sensory tunnel:
What's round this corner?
Definitely a successful day out!
Some of the families hadn't been to Anglesey Abbey before, and after today, are hoping to return soon.
Kate Boursnell
Community Reporter
Anglesey Abbey

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Hedgehogs move in … and out

Students from Granta School welcomed nine hedgehogs to Anglesey Abbey's Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area last week. The nine prickly newcomers were moving to their new home as part of a programme to release over 70 hedgehogs brought to Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital as underweight juveniles last autumn. 



Natasha Ennew, a Trustee of the Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity, explained how each hedgehog's own unique ID tag will enable the release programme to be monitored. If you find a hedgehog with one of these tags, please go to the Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity website and report it.


 We took the hedgehogs to the homes built by Highfield students the previous day, and watched them trundle off into the warmth of the hay.



Some of them were definitely more wide awake than others, and keen to explore their new surroundings. 

The Community Team checked that there was enough food and water each day, but the hedgehogs were obviously more interested in finding their own worms and beetles. One week after the hedgehogs first moved in, Highfield students could see that the hedgehogs had nearly all moved out. We left dried cat food and water for them, just in case. 

If you do come across any of our hedgehogs, don't forget to complete the survey at, but it would be great if you could let the Community Team know too, so we can keep Granta and Highfield updated.

Community Reporter

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Homes for hedgehogs

Nine lucky hedgehogs have moved into their new homes in Hoe Fen, thanks to the efforts of students from Highfield School. The hedgehogs were too small to survive hibernation, and have spent the Winter and early Spring at Shepreth Wildlife Centre. Now the warmer weather has finally arrived, they are big enough to forage for themselves and will be brought to their new homes at Anglesey later this week.

The Highfield team are now expert hedgehog home builders - here's the process:

Build supports for a plywood roof

Cover it with sticks from the eco piles (lots of food potential here)

Fill it with hay for bedding (it's still cold at night time)

Although we'll put food out for the hedgehogs for the first few days, they'll probably prefer to find their own food soon. There are plenty of beetles and worms around, so they should thrive.

The current group from Highfield have been spending their Wednesday mornings working to maintain the Wildlife Discovery Area since the start of term and it's looking great: the bluebells are out, birds are nest building and the the trees are greening up at last. 


Next time, we'll be looking for signs that the hedgehogs used the homes we built before they move out to explore the area and find their own food.

Kate Boursnell
Community Reporter
Anglesey Abbey

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Fifty Things and Reach Fair

A busy bank holiday weekend, with the launch of the Ultimate list of 50 Things to do Before You are 113/4 on Saturday and Sunday at the fen we had a range of activities going on. Pond Dipping, mini beast hunting, den Building and mud pies. There was a very exciting snail race with a lot of close calls between snails, plus, a new one for me, a Star Gazing evening lead by Cambridge Young Astronomers. It was unfortunately a cloudy night so we didn't see loads, but we learnt a lot and got a very good view of Saturn and its rings. 
Check out the list at

On Monday we had a stall at Reach Fair, it was a great day for it and I met lots of people to talk to about the fen and the Wicken Vision project, and we made lots of dragonflies and butterflies with the children passing. Look out for our stand at Burwell Carnival, Waterbeach Feat and Wicken Fete later in the year.

Lois Baker
Community Ranger

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Community Day at Coggeshall Grange Barn

This Monday we joined several teams from National Trust properties in the Eastern Region at Coggeshall Grange Barn for an update and discussion on community engagement, with a focus on family volunteering projects. Our first impressions? An English Spring (especially when it's as late as this one) is just the best…sunshine, the fresh green of new leaves, cowslips, pretty villages. And Coggeshall Grange Barn is HUGE, an astonishing timber barn with a history going back to the 1100s. Also cold (but we had been warned).

First off, David Huse updated us on how he's working to promote family volunteering projects in NW England. David joined us at Anglesey for the Bottisham Children's Centre family volunteering session in mid April and is keen to apply some of the ideas he picked up. Janet and Lois then outlined recent Anglesey and Wicken community activities and plans for the future, before we heard how the Essex team identified ways to connect with communities in areas with low NT involvement.

A very welcome hot lunch of bangers and mash (and some of us managed the chocolate brownie with hot sauce too) set us up for an afternoon of detective work in Coggleshall. What could we discover about opportunities for NT involvement in the local community by checking out local shops, community spaces and by chatting to residents? We had some interesting encounters… and I think we were all impressed with the amount of information we came up with. It did remind me of doing Geography field work in the days before computers! 

The final session was a discussion of how our findings could be used to develop activities that would introduce local residents to the NT in Coggeshall and encourage them to get involved. 
We're keen to find out how much people know about the community activities we do at Anglesey and Wicken. If you have a few minutes, you can help us by completing our (very short) survey here: Thanks!

Community Reporter