Monthly Archive: February 2019

Ely common scrub clearance

Ely Common was declared a Town Green in 2012 as a result of a campaign led by Ely Wildspace, securing the Common’s future as an open space, free from development, for the people of Ely and the District to enjoy in perpetuity. This status however did not ensure that Ely Common would be maintained to remain open and accessible, and over the last few years parts of the Common have been increasingly encroached upon by blackthorn scrub, despite being within Ely’s Country Park.

Two years ago in co-operation with East Cambridgeshire District Council Ely Wildspace began a process to clear the encroaching scrub from the Common, with the assistance of the Community Payback team and its own volunteers. Disposing of the cut shrub and scrub regrowth has proved problematic, and the cleared areas have remained unusable.

Help has come however from Camps Highways Ltd, specialists in commercial landscaping and highway soft verge maintenance, who this week provided their plant and personnel as a community service to remove and shred all the cut scrub and regrowth. The whole of this part of the Common is now accessible to the public for the first time in several years.

Ely Wildspace chairman Andrew Bullivant said ‘Ely Wildspace is delighted that Camps Highways’ team has come to our assistance in solving this long-standing problem of scrub encroachment on Ely Common. We hope that following their lead, ways may now be found to keep the Common open in the long term’.

Bird Race

9 of us turned out today to brave the sogginess and cold for the 17th Ely Bird Race. It was worth it.

The species list was set at 69 for the day and includes White-fronted Goose (2) and a Jack Snipe (Springhead Meadow with 9 Common Snipe). Nice to see 3 Grey Wagtails at the sewage plant (with a chiffchaff), and the pair of stonechats back on their old patch. The only notable omissions were Green Woodpecker, Little Egret and Wigeon.

A later additions was a bit contentious in that we saw a flock of swans in the distance. With a bit of knowledge about what was around Ben Green was confident to say that they were whoopers, but investigations into the swan movements by checking the tracking data from the collar ringed Bewicks proved fruitless. So we end with a species list of 70.

Full list can be seen here.


Last year (2018), the contractors for the McCarthy & Stone development on the old Peck’s site removed the hedge between the development and the public footpath on Springhead Lane. The hedge was outside the site boundary so should not have been removed. Ely Wildspace brought the hedge removal to the attention of the Senior Trees Officer at ECDC, who contacted McC & S, and asked them to replace the hedge. This they did in April 2018, but with no aftercare during the long dry summer most of the shrubs (which were hornbeams) died. The hedge was replaced again by McC & S some time in Jan 2019, again with hornbeams.
To strengthen the hedge, Ely Wildspace volunteers planted 165 mixed hawthorn, hazel, dogwood, blackthorn and guelder rose plants on Sunday 3 February 2019. That was up to 70 m of planting! Thanks to everyone who cam along to help

The hedge plants were donated by The Conservation Volunteers/ OVO Energy and Cambs Highways.

Hedge planting

Hedge planting

In Memory of Gillian Sallis

We were extremely honoured to receive a cheque from Alayne & Susie Sallis. This was generously given to Ely Wildspace from donations made by family and friends in Jill’s memory.

Ely Wildspace will use these monies to improve the wild space around Roswell Pits for the benefit of the birds and animals that Jill loved so much.

Jill lived in the house overlooking the pits in her childhood and was married from there. She had always loved the area, the wildlife and, of course, Roswell Pits. She particularly loved kingfishers and our hope is to install Kingfisher tunnels to help and encourage these beautiful birds to nest and breed.