Friday, 27 April 2012

Grand opening of the Fenman's workshop and yard this Weekend

Tim and his team of volunteers have the workshop ready for its opening tomorrow and it is defiantly worth a visit. It is located next to our Fen Cottage at Wicken Fen’s Visitor Centre. Traditional Fenland crafts and tasty nibbles the order of the weekend. With a great deal of work going on in the Fen Cottage and now the new workshop the why not pop down and get a glimps of fenland life in the 1930’s.

As we all know it has been raining, good news for farmers and wetlands, bad news for picnics and building things. Evidence of this rain can be seen in the latest wild camping photos below :-)  Hope the water drains away and the grass grows back nice and fast.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Earth finally goes on the roofs at Oily Hall

After a few days of hard work in the rain the pond liners were put on the roofs and covered with earth. Whippletree supplied us with the 15 ft long waney boards for the fronts and we got these attached too so hopefully we are getting near completion. The toilet has a handle and earth on the roof but is still waiting its boards to hold the earth back. There is also a great deal of snagging to do, handles, sanding things down and the toilet seat to fit.......

These pics show where we are up to:

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Wild Camp Build Continues....

The toilet is taking shape

It still needs the hole cutting but you get the idea. The nice big slab of oak was kindly donated by Jamie from Cambridge Restoration and a toilet seat will be added as soon as I can get my hands on one.

Other things on the go down there are the new straw panels to keep the nasties hidden, but let the wind through enough to help it all rot down.

As the weather has been a bit changeable I thought I would try to get a few pics of the clouds with my phone. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Mulch mats, thousands of them!

The community wood at White Fen got some much needed attention on Sunday thanks to help from the people of Lode and Longmeadow. The job was tending to the mulch mats, spading in the edges that have lifted in the wind. It was a big job, there are about 2500 mats down there, they all needed checking and I would think at least 1000 if not 1500 needed some care. This simply would not have been possible without people volunteering their time to help, so a big thanks to everyone who helped out on a cold morning. 

We have used mulch mats to keep the weeds away from the newly planted whips and lock as much moisture in the soil at their base as possible. Hopefully the trees will grow enough over the next few years that the mats don’t require as much attention, but by comparing the areas where the mats were not used with the areas we did on Sunday you can see the benefit of all the hard work with far more trees surviving and in leaf.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Holiday Blog and a Cuckoo?

I had a few days off over Easter so we went up the River Ouse and along the Wissey. There is so much wildlife about on the river but sadly I didn’t have my camera so I only got a few pics here and there. We saw loads of birds getting nests ready, a fox, and also an Otter. The birds were mainly, Great Crested Grebes, Coots, Swans, and Moore Hens. Dozens of them, one set of Swans were working as a team, one reaching out and getting some leaves passing them over to the other who then moved them further over and into position...... Let’s face it this is hardly the kind of thing that’s going to get the camera crew of The BBC’s Natural World getting excited but it was nice to watch.  Other nice spots were a Short Eared Owl near Little Thetford and a Barn Owl at Wissington. We spotted the Otter on the River Wissey just to the east of Hilgay.

If you have Google Earth you can download a fly over of where we went. It is best viewed in fast forward, lots of interesting old river channels and things like that to be spotted from above.

Old Pump House at Wissington
 Fox on the bank of the Wissey
The Lakes on The Wissey just past the sugar beet factory

In Wicken Fen news I heard the first reports of a Cuckoo today, apparently one has been spotted in the county and one heard at Wicken Fen. Just one report so far so maybe a false alarm but now is the time of year for them to start arriving.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Still down at Oily Hall but things are happening....

Wild Camping Toilet, a new pond and the cows are back on Oily Hall

As usual there is much to do.... but we have got some things done. The Wild Campsite is still coming along, Jason has started to dig a new pond and the cows from Spinney Abbey are back on Oily Hall. 

This is where we are up to. The toilet has walls, a door and half of a roof. It does not yet have a toilet! Earth on the roof, a door handle or lock, shutters, or the base chicken wired in. It does look a bit like a bird hide, but the idea is the toilet can be moved from one end to the other in a few years and the extra space allows for wheelchair acess. The windows are high up so that one can be opened to let light in when it is in use.

Here is the beginings of a pond. It isn't going to be deep, 2m in the middle. Depending on the clay found it might need to be puddled to ensure it holds water. Puddling is the process of spreading clay over porous layers such as sand. It can be a slow process if you have to hunt for the clay. So far the clay has been where we expected it, but we will see what tomorrow holds. The overburden is moved to the side before being spread out later on.


On a side note we did see, or think we might have seen, a strange/rare thing, a black fox. We were pretty sure it wasn’t a dog but it was quite large, sadly we couldn’t get a good picture. Black Foxes are ridiculously rare by the sounds of it so we will wait to see if we can see it again. Other than that the Marsh Harriers were overhead again and flew quite close, this time we did get a picture but it was hardly Richared Nicoll standards mind. Always worth checking out his website