With so many large scale projects being undertaken across the Great Fen areas it's easy to forget some of the smaller areas. The Countryside Centre is the smallest reserve in the Great Fen project but it provides an invaluable resource for a whole range of events, from teaching children about wildlife to teaching adults how to whittle spoons.
The reserve consists of several large ponds, once a haven for children and their pond dipping nets but over the years they have become overgrown and over populated with fish. As a result the newts and other aquatic organisms have suffered.
In 2015 the Great Fen team consisting of staff and volunteers cleared the larger of the ponds, removing many overhanging trees and vast areas of brambles. This allowed a survey of the life in the pond to be carried out. Unfortunately life in there wasn't great, fish had decimated much of the invertebrate life and a thick blanket of algea prevented oxygen from reaching the water.
The environment agency were drafted in to consult on the relocation of the fish, which themselves were suffering from black spot. This work is due to be carried out in late 2016 / early 2017. Once free of fish then the aquatic organisms, once so common in these pools, should start to return.
Further work will also be carried out in 2016 to clear the remaining ponds of excess reeds and bramble growth.
In 2016 the restoration team carried out an array of work at the Countryside Centre including:
· Laying blackthorn to encourage nesting birds at a lower level.
· Started the creation of a small grass meadow.
· Laying of willow at the pond dipping platform.
· Rotational reed clearance.
Work will continue at this site throughout 2017.