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Bloomin’ marvellous

On Saturday 22 June, a group of volunteers led by botanists Ed Tanner and Tim Inskipp undertook our annual survey of the plants of Ely Common. This is the third year that we have surveyed the Common and we are slowly building up a picture of plant diversity and relative abundance over time, which will help to identify the impact of current management and opportunities for improvement. This year we identified 63 species on the Common including Red Fescue, Common Sorrel and Dewberry. We recorded the partially parasitic plant Yellow Rattle for the first time, an exciting addition to our records. Adder’s-tongue fern, a scarce plant with more chromosomes than any other organism, has spread to new locations on the Common and seems to be thriving. Thanks to all those who took part and made the day a great success. (Image: Tim Inskipp)

Annual plant survey of Ely Common

On Saturday 22 June, we will be undertaking our annual survey of plants on Ely Common. We’ll learn how to identify what plants are there and add to the baseline data collected through the plant surveys undertaken in 2011 and 2012. Meet in the Environment Agency car park off Prickwillow Road at 10 am. Bring water and sunblock/rain gear (as appropriate).

Bird race bonanza

Local naturalists enjoyed one of the loveliest mornings of the year as well as some fantastic wildlife encounters as they took part in last Sunday’s Bird Race around the Ely Wildspace. Among 77 bird species recorded in the spring sunshine, there were great sightings of cuckoos, hobbies, turtle doves and buzzards. Everyone also heard the extraordinary booming of the local bittern – one of only a hundred or so territorial males in the whole UK – and a lucky few also heard nightingale. Non-bird sightings included roe deer, hares and the rare adder’s-tongue fern. Details of the next Bird Race, to be held in the autumn, will be posted on our website.

Memories of Ely Wildspace

We are very excited to be launching our ‘Memories of Ely Wildspace’ project at the end of May, an oral history project to build up a picture of the past and present use of the area. From 31 May, follow our Facebook page for news and updates and share your memories with this project.

Soon to be homeless: otter caught on film

The debate around Cambridge University’s plans to build a plush new boathouse in the Wildspace has centred on evidence from many organisations – but disputed by the developers – about the area’s wildlife. This new video of an otter visiting a mature willow on the site provides conclusive proof of the value of the site. The footage was captured very early last Thursday morning by the Fens’ most experienced otter surveyor, Cliff Carson. There can now be no doubt that allowing Cambridge University to build a sports club on the site would damage crucial habitat for these – and many other – rare creatures.