An array of rare birds will return to the Nene Valley this winter to find warmth and food at the internationally important wetland areas that run from Northampton to Thrapston.
This area is known as the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Special Protection Area (SPA). As part of a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of this area, East Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire County and Wellingborough Councils, helped by the National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported Nenescape Landscape, are working with Natural England and The Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants.
More than 20,000 birds, many of which are facing declines, flock to the shorelines from October to March and residents are being urged to admire the birds from designated view points, and ensure that their dogs are kept on the lead and away from birds in the water.
The habitats provide valuable resting and feeding conditions for major concentrations of wintering waterbirds, especially ducks and waders. Partners that look after the area want to ensure that this remains a great place for everyone to appreciate.
Dog walkers, cyclists and runners can unintentionally disturb the birds meaning they might not visit suitable areas of the SPA again, or be able to eat enough to survive.
Here are a few ways you can help make this an area for birds and people to enjoy:
• Stay on existing pathways and viewing areas to prevent disturbance
• Look out for birds resting or feeding and move away if birds become alert or stop feeding
• Cycle on the specially designed greenway route
• Keep dogs on leads
• Clean up after your dog
• Exercise dogs away from the birds
• Fish in the designated areas only
You can also visit the many country parks situated outside of the SPA, such as Fermyn Woods, Barnwell and Irchester Country Parks. For information on country parks near you, visit www.northamptonshireparks.co.uk
Leader of the Borough Council of Wellingborough, Cllr Martin Griffiths, said: “We are fortunate to have so many wonderful open spaces across the borough which a vast range of rare birds visit each winter. I would encourage all visitors to the special protection areas to support this campaign to ensure that these wonderful birds return each year.”
Enjoy the wildlife of the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Special Protection Area (SPA), see how many of our top winter visitors you can spot and tell your family and friends about the importance of the Nene Valley.
For more information visit www.nenevalley.net/spa