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Sixth Ely Wildspace Bird Race

In early January, a dozen local bird watchers met at Roswell Pits on Sunday for the 6th Ely Bird Race.Three groups, each led by a local birder, set off and amassed an excellent aggregate total of 65 species, just one short of the record for an Ely winter bird race.

This included a new species for Roswell Pits –Merlin, the smallest European falcon and an occasional winter visitor from northern Englandand Scandinavia. Other interest was provided by three overwintering chiffchaffs (a migrant warbler) at the sewage farm, eking out a living on invertebrates. More and more chiffchaffs are spending the winter in the UK instead of migrating to Africa. Last but not least, there was a large gathering of meadow pipits (25) on the water meadow, mixed in with a flock of pied wagtails.

Much enjoyment and discussion was had in the sparkling sunshine. We look forward to running the 7th Ely Bird Race in May, when species numbers will be boosted by our summer migrants, including nightingale. Look out for details on the Ely Wildspace website (www.elywildspace.org.uk), and do come along and join us for what is a very special local experience.

Concerns with another otter killed on the road

Otters are regularly being seen in and around Elywildpace which is very good news but sadly, those taking part in the Bird Race on 5 Jan also found another otter roadkill adjacent to the beet factory settling ponds. This is at least the fifth otter casualty along the 200m-stretch of road between the pond and the river in recent years. It underscores the importance of the area for otters – and the urgent need for the highways authorities to reduce the risk of further deaths in future. Ely Wildspace is working with otter experts to examine what might be feasible and effective.

Glade all over

Thanks to a fantastic turnout, kind weather, and the very generous donation of tools and manpower by Island Landscapes, we had a tremendously successful work party on Sat 25 Jan. We managed to open up two glades, coppicing elders, hawthorn and blackthorn to add more structural diversity to the habitat and (hopefully) make it more attractive for nightingales. We also cleared out a large amount of rubbish, and did some badly-needed maintenance work on the hedge improvements we’ve been making near the river, and to the tern rafts on Roswell Pits. Huge thanks to everyone who came,and to Natural England and Island Landscapes for supporting our work. The next event is a Wildlife Trust work party on Sat 15 Feb; contact Will Burdett (will.burdett@anglia.ac.uk) for details.

Scrub Clearance Work Parties at Roswell Pits

As a condition of the HLS agreement on our land at Roswell Pits we are obliged to create two separate glades to create a mosaic of scrub and more open areas. It is hoped that this will make the area attractive to species such as nightingale which, in recent years, has bred in nearby areas of scrub at Roswell Pits.

Please come along and help carry out this task by joining the work parties we are holding on Saturday 25 January 2014 and Saturday 8 February 2014. We are meeting at 9am at Ely Sailing Club off Prickwillow Road. We will be able to provide protective gloves and tools for scrub clearance, but if you have your own please do bring them along. Please also bring plenty of food, drink and waterproof footwear. Please e-mail markgrooms@talktalk.net if you require further information.

Sixth Ely Wildspace Bird Race

In November 2012 an amazing 66 species of bird were recorded during last winter’s Wildspace Bird Race including bittern, brambling and mandarin duck . Are you up to the challenge of attempting to beat that total? Alternatively, do you simply fancy a guided bird watching walk around the fantastic wildlife areas right on our doorstep?

If you do, then why not join the 6th Ely Wildspace Bird Race on Sunday 5 January 2014?

We are meeting at 9am sharp at the top of Kiln Lane (the road leading to the Environment Agency off Prickwillow Road) where we will divide up into small teams, each of which will be led by an experienced local birdwatcher. The teams will then set off and walk all around the Wildspace trying to see and hear as many bird species as possible. At around 12pm the teams will meet up again to compare notes and discover the winning team. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Please bring binoculars (if you have them), warm and waterproof clothing, and plenty of food and drink. Please e-mail markgrooms@talktalk.net if you require further information.

Celebrate our success!

Town Green status was awarded to Ely Common by Cambridge County Council on 12 December 2013. This gives legal protection to the Common and confirms people’s right to enjoy all of the Common for legal uses and pastimes. We are absolutely delighted. It has been a long hard battle but now we really can celebrate.

Meeting at Lisle Lane gate for a walk across the Common

Profuse thanks must go to Frank Richards who has seen this campaign through from beginning to end, through two Public Inquiries, a mountain of paperwork and a seemingly endless stream of legal jargon. We are deeply indebted to all the witnesses who stood up to rigorous cross-examination by barristers, and to the many users of the Common who provided invaluable written evidence. We would like to thank Cain Ormondroyd (our barrister) for his excellent presentation of our case, and Susan Ring (our solicitor). None of this would have been possible without very many people’s generous financial support – and donations of art and promises – that meant we could pay our legal team. And we thank all our members and friends who have given their time, energy and help. Last, we are deeply grateful to the Supreme Court judges who ruled that “deferring to a tractor” was “behaving with courtesy and common sense” rather than ceding our right of access. This crucial ruling allowed us to re-apply for Town/Village Green status after our first application failed.

We hope you will share in our delight at finally obtaining long-term protection for Ely Common. Please celebrate with us on Saturday 14 December – by visiting our market stall in the morning or joining us at 2.15 at the Lisle Lane gate for a walk across the Common, followed by a warming drink and cake in Ely Sailing Club. We would love to see you.

Elywildspace Autumn Litterpick 26th October

Please join us for this year’s autumn litterpick on Saturday 26th October. We will meet at 2.00 pm by the gate at the top of Kiln Lane. There will be tea and scones at Ely Sailing Club afterwards and a chance to catch up on news. Families are very welcome.
We will provide equipment for the litterpick. However, we would appreciate if you could bring a broom to help us sweep the gravel on Lovers Lane afterwards to make it wheelchair friendly again.

Memories of Ely Pits and Meadows Oral History Project

We have booked a meeting room and interview room in Ely Library from 9.30 am to pm on Saturday 5th of October. Join us if you would like to find out more about the project or if you have memories or stories that you would like to share, they can be quite recent memories. We are also interested in old photographs. There may well be cake and coffee. Please help us to tell the rich and varied story of the area.

Ragwort pulling in Soham

Are you interested in exploring another local SSSI, that might be less familiar than Ely Pits & meadows? Would you be willing to volunteer to pull ragwort on one of the units of Soham Wet Horse fen SSSI (notified for its community of grassland flora)?This event will take place on 10:30 Sat 20th July. Please contact us for further details.