Thursday, 27 March 2014

Five star service....

Waterbeach primary school have had their Science week this week. The children were all told on Monday that their nature area was going to be turned into a car park if they couldn't protect it (of course not true) but we have been helping them learn about their outdoor area so they can defend it!

Protecting special places is the National Trust remit and in assembly the pupils were all able to tell us why their outdoor area is special to them and should be protected. The same reasons really why we protect Wicken - Wildlife, Uniqueness and Fun!

We were at the school on Monday and Wednesday and did something with all year groups. Reception did a Bug Hunt, Year 1 made mini insect homes and Year 2 made Bird feeders. Years 3 and four had a go at dissecting owl pellets.

The triumph of the week though was year Five and Six's insect hotel. Modelled on the one made last year at Wicken Fen but with a few fantastic upgrades such a chimney! Picture below.

Community Ranger
Wicken Fen 

Mini Insect Homes

Finished Feeders

Step one - Base pallet with leaves for hedgehogs
Step 2 - Add more layers, with bricks and tubes for spiders and woodlice
Step Three - Final pallets with wood for all sorts and canes for ladybirds and solitary bees.

Step 4 - Finish off with a tile roof to keep dry and if you have one a strawberry planter chimney!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Marking the way (part two.....where we dug lots of holes)

Since our session at the end of February to create etched rubbing plates with pupils from Highfields School in Ely we have been preparing the posts to mount these on.
Everyone has been using their muscles to dig holes so we can sink the posts nice and deep making them sturdy and a good height for children to take rubbings from, around twenty posts have gone in already with the last fifteen being put in this week.
We will also paint the top of each post so they show the three colour zones of the Wildlife area to help orientate people.
Next week Tabi will be back with the etched plates so watch this space to see the final blog for the way marker project and the finished article.

Community Engagement Officer
Anglesey Abbey

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Splashing about...

On Monday I went to help Fen Ditton school look after their school pond. It has been neglected for a few years and as a result was covered in vegetation which had formed a thick mat of roots across the whole pond. 

Plants are god for a wildlife pond, they oxygenate the water, provide food and cover for creatures but there needs to be a balance between open water and cover and this pond had gone too far! 

We attacked it with shears and rakes, dragging the nice soggy lumps of vegetation and mud out. I had to put the waders on get in, I managed to stay dry but there were a few close calls! Lesley, an NT volunteer who also works at Fen Ditton school actually got wetter on the edge, I was in trouble for not bringing two pairs of waders!

We cleared around 90% of the cover, a lot will regrow over the summer. The vegetation has been left on the sides so any pond life can make its way safely back in to the water and we will move them to a compost pile next week once they've dried out a bit. 

We look forward to watching the wildlife return to the pond in the spring and the children should be able to get out to the pond to pond dip again. 

Community Ranger
 Wicken Fen

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Trees and toasted marshmallows!

This time last year we blogged about students from Cambridge Uni helping us to plant trees for the day at White Fen.

This year the National Trust for Cambridge Students society organised a conservation day at white fen again. Today ten students have been hard at work looking after the trees planted last year.

This has involved  a lot of raking of weeds and hard work but again there was a lunch break at the wild campsite for hot jacket potatoes and toasted marsh mallows on the fire!

We look forward to having them back again next year.