Northampton Washlands : Flock to the Valley
Staff and volunteers from River Nene Regional Park and the RSPB invite regular and new visitors to the Washlands, to come and view glittering golden plovers and whistling wigeon through high-powered telescopes. No booking required. Access via public footpath across the Nene from Weston Mill Lane, off Billing Road East. No booking required.
A programme of free family events and guided walks around the Upper Nene Valley will showcase visiting winter wildlife and their newly protected habitats.
Natural England, RNRP, RSPB, the Wildlife Trust and the Rockingham Forest Trust have arranged family and wildlife watching activities around the Upper Nene Valley between the 14th and 15th January. Experts will be out and about at some of the area's best wildlife-watching spots, including Summer Leys, Stanwick Lakes and Titchmarsh Local Nature Reserve to show visitors the winter bird spectacles and explain why the area is now one of the UK's most important wildlife sites.
Upper Nene Valley is pitted with ponds and lakes as a result of gravel extraction. Fringed with areas of reeds, woodland, grassland and fen, these watering holes are a winter Mecca for 20,000 ducks, swans and wading birds from Europe and Scandinavia. During the Summer, a huge range of birds live along the valley including common terns and Cetti's warblers.
The sheer number of over-wintering and rare birds meant the area was recognised last year as one of the UK's most important wildlife sites. Nene Valley Gravel Pits has been designated as a Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, which is the first time an area in Northamptonshire has been given international environmental protection.
Nicola Orchard, lead advisor at Natural England said; "This is an exciting programme of free walks and events which we hope will inspire and raise awareness of the importance of the newly protected area. The sites will reveal some of their winter wildlife secrets and show why this part of Northamptonshire is so special and worth protecting at such a high level."
Steve Holliday, RSPB Midlands Regional Director said: "It's wonderful to be celebrating the Nene Valley as one of the best sites in the UK for nature and as an area so many local people can enjoy. It highlights the potential for mineral sites to restore lost habitats and play a vital part in bringing wildlife back to the Midlands."
Brian Eversham, CEO at the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire added 'The designation of the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits SPA is a landmark moment for the wildlife of Northamptonshire, not only in recognising its importance for overwintering wetland birds but also in enabling nature conservation at a landscape scale'
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