30 Wild Reserves - Day 30!!

Friday 30th June 2017

From our oldest reserve to our newest - the Nene Wetlands

At the heart of the Nene ValleyLiving Landscape is the River Nene. It rises from three sources in Northamptonshire before flowing through the county and then passing into Cambridgeshire at Peterborough and finally draining into the Wash. This Living Landscape covers 41,000 hectares, with habitats ranging from glittering wildflower meadows and ancient woodlands to flooded gravel pits. Central to this brilliant area is the Nene Wetlands nature reserve, a unique one square mile of wild and man-made habitats, managed for wildlife and people.

Take a look at Canoe2's short film on Skew Lake.



The Wetlands include the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area. This extensive series of shallow and deep open waters are surrounded with a wide range of marginal features, such as sparsely-vegetated islands, gravel bars and shorelines, and habitats including reed swamp, marsh, wet ditches, rush pasture, rough grassland and scattered scrub.

This range of habitat and the varied topography of the lagoons provide valuable nesting, resting and feeding conditions to sustain nationally important numbers and assemblages of breeding and wintering birds. Twenty thousand waterbirds use the wetlands every year, for breeding, for their winter quarters or as vital stopping points on their long migration routes, from as far away as Arctic Russia and southern Africa, as well as many that spend all year in the area.

In winter the Wetlands are especially important for bitterns, golden plovers and lapwings, and wildfowl such as gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, pochard, tufted duck, coot and great crested grebe. In summer, the migrant breeding birds include sedge and willow warblers. You may hear the explosive notes of a Cetti’s warbler swearing from a thicket almost any time of year.

Most mammals are hard to see, but otters, badgers, foxes and Daubenton’s bats all live here, along with shrews, mice and voles, many of which are only active at night. Fish include chub, perch, eels, pike and brown trout, all doing their best to avoid grey herons, kingfishers and otters.

Once the new Visitor Centre is open in about a month, you can pick up a Discovery Trail Guide and wander around Skew Lake spotting wildlife, take a
paddle in a canoe or hire a cycle to visit the far reaches of this expansive watery wonderland.