Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Students study the vision...

On Friday I was visited by year 7 students from Soham Village College who before Christmas were studying the Wicken Fen Vision Project and debating the pros and cons. This finished with them all writing letters to the fen outlining their arguments for and against the Vision Project and coming to a decision for or against at the end. 

Fourteen Pupils came out to visit the fen, to ask further questions about the Vision Project,give us their letters and explore the fen in person. 

The majority of letters concluded the vision project was a good thing and should go ahead:

' 'I can only hope that your ventures towards expansion work towards your liking and that you achieve what you have leapt out to do.'

'If we don't preserve out wildlife such as Wicken Fen  then future generations will not be able to visit and enjoy the countryside and all the wildlife.'

Some were in disagreement though:

' In my opinion I think Wicken Fen should stay as it is at the moment. The reason I think this is because at the moment Wicken Fen is fantastic for everyone'.

It was great afternoon finding out what the students had been able to learn about their local environment in order to form opinions on what they thought should happen to it based on how it would effect both wildlife and the local community.

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Signs of Spring?

Artwork and garden work by Anglesey Abbey's community groups are welcome reminders that Spring can't be too far off:

Cambridgeshire Mencap's tiles are brightening up the bird hide down in Hoe Fen,

while outside, the long tailed tits, blue tits and great tits can't get enough of the food we put out for them. 

Remember how cold last Spring was? Students from Granta School braved the cold weather to replant snowdrops at the path edges in Hoe Fen. 

We didn't know whether they had made it through the dry summer and would come up this year, but things are looking promising…

We're looking forward to seeing how Mencap's work in the Secret Garden has survived the soggy weather, and how students from Highfield School are getting on with their signage project. 

Community Reporter

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Good Woods

The Gutter Bridge Plantation (A small community woodland near Swaffham Bulbeck see post: is progressing well. 

This weekend we had another working party and we were boosted in numbers by the Cambridge National Trust Volunteers who brought a record number of 22 people out to help with the work we were doing. Added to them were 15 regulars from the village making a very formidable working party team!

Lots and lots was achieved. The path around the area is now cleared for its entire length and so is access along the front entrance by the ditch.  Also a lot of old tree guards and accompanying metal spikes were removed.

Pictures of the hard working team:

We had a visit on Monday from Good Woods – a project to help communities manage their woodlands, funded by B&Q and supported by the Sylva Foundation and Lantern. Their expert Claire came out to visit the woodland and provide advice to the community. She has lots of good advice and suggestions as; as part of the visit she will set the village up a My Forest account which allows them to upload information about the woodland to the My Forest website and use it to create a management plan to guide the future of the woodland. 

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Loo with a View!

One of the more interesting jobs for the ranger team this week was making repairs to the Eco Loo at the Wild Campsite, before the first brave campers of 2014 at the end of January.

We were hoping for a frosty day to freeze the contents and make the job pleasanter! It was actually a sunny day but the smell wasn't too bad at all!

The repairs involved the installation of a drainpipe in the loo which will hopefully in the summer help create convection a current up and out of the loo, circulating air and keeping things a bit fresher! We got to use a new gadget attached to the drill to cut a hole big enough for a drainpipe to go though which was fun!

This involved climbing up a  ladder to the roof of the loo where the sunny day made for some nice elevated panoramic pictures.

The Wild Camp is booking up for 2014 already if you want to find out more about it and how to book click on the Wicken Wild Camp page at the top of the blog.

Other things I've been up to this week include a visit to Littleport Primary School to give some advice on a new pond and nature area they have created and a meeting with the Student Ambassadors at Cambridge University to plan their programme of events for 2013 which include a day at White Fen and a screening of the Project Wild Thing Film for Students.

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Patience is a virtue...

Saturday was lovely day and fortunately we were out making the most of the sunshine. There was a 'tree care' day at White Fen, the community woodland we have planted in stages since 2010 with a variety of local groups and villagers from Lode and Long Meadow!

Now there are over 6000 trees down there the challenge is to look after them and give them the best chance of surviving from 20cm to tall trees covered in berries for wildlife! It is a slow process and I'm very impatient about it but in five years we should see signs of success! In the mean time we mow between the trees once or twice a year to stop the weeds over taking them and then rely on volunteers to look after the individual trees.

Volunteers have been signing up throughout 2013 to take on a small patch of trees which they will be responsible for checking 2-3 times a year. Checking involves straightening canes, weeding and clearing guards of ants nest. They strangly and clevely build their nests in them in the summer as it is warm and dry for eggs, which is great for the ants but not for the tree.

On Saturday everyone came down at the same time so I could provide spare canes, guards (which we renamed twirlies!) and more importantly biscuits! Also people marked out their territories to avoid confusion. It was a fantastic day, lots of enthusiastic volunteers, I spotted Buzzards and field fares and It was great to see how many people were making use of the Lodes Way cycle path running through white fen - Walkers, cyclists, horse riders and runners. 

Burwell Scut group are going to look after their patch in a couple of weekends time when they are stayign at the wild camp site, followed by Cambridge Student volunteers doing theirs in March - this combined effort will mean all 6000 are checked before  the spring... now we just have to wait for them to grow!

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the Anglesey and Wicken Community Team!

We had a bit of a blog error over Christmas when my phone synced with the blog photos and I (stupidly/naively/accidentally) assumed that deleting them from my phone albums would not result int hem being deleted from the Blog - unfortunately that wasn't case! All the photos are gone!

We are slowly back filling the photos that were deleted from the originals but there maybe a few blank spaces on old posts for a while!

On a more positive note there are lots of community plans for 2014, watch this space for:

- The Community Wall at Anglesey Abbey
- Big Family Day Out - corporate volunteering with families
- Nature Clubs Launch
- Fifty Things to Do Before your 11 3/4 in 2014
- More Tree Planting!
- The return of the Walking Festival 
- The Gutter Bridge and Reach Village Projects
- Anglesey Abbeys Domestic Wing Project 

And much more .....!

Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Project Wild Thing

Last week we held a community preview of the film Project Wild Thing. Project Wild Thing is a film based movement to raise awareness of the declining role nature and the outdoors is playing in childrens lives. The term 'Nature Deficit Disorder' is used to describe the worry that nowadays children don't spend as much time outdoors as their parents and grandparents did.

David Bond has made a film to explore this idea and see what the impacts of it are on children. He makes himself the 'Marketing Director of Nature' to try and sell nature to the nations children. 

The film is being shown in Picture House cinemas on the 27th of Ocotober. The Cambirdge scrrening is at 3pm. 

We had the chance to have a preview screening and we invited along our community partners from Anglesey Abbey and Wicken Fen who also work with children. The response to the film was postive and there was a lot of enthusiam for taking the project forward and raising awareness of this in Cambridgeshire.

When I think back to how much time I spent outdoors as a child it was quite a lot, either in the garden for an hour or so, the afternoon at a local park, days in Thetford forest or holidays at the beach (In the North of Scotland so it was more catching fish in rock pools than sun bathing!). I appreciate that I was lucky in that it was pretty easy for me to get to outdoor space, but I defintely think that time was important, my best childhood memories are from these times, and it influenced my choice of career in conservation and working for the National Trust. Children need to learn to enjoy and love the outdoors so they want to look after and conserve it in the future, we will need more rangers!

What can you do?

Sign up to swapping screen time for wildtime at the project wild thing website or download the app with ideas of fun things to do outdoors:

Its not all doom and gloom... these guys had great fun outdoors at the Gutter Bridge Plantation yesterday, we had another working party there and it was all hands on deck to clear a path which the children rolled logs all the way along to the glade we created last time to make seats.

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen