Monday, 27 July 2015

Volunteers visit Cley

Angela Collins, volunteer coordinator

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting several NWT volunteers at NWT Cley Marshes. Volunteers across the Trust were invited to see the new visitor facilities and have a guided tour of the nature reserve. There was a good cross representation of volunteers, including livestock checkers, IT support, visitor centres, administration, and education. 

In the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre
We started in the new Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre where David North, Head of People and wildlife, gave a very interesting talk on the history of Cley, including geology, history of flooding and the people involved. Jonathan Clarkson, the centre manager explained how NWT is taking the opportunity to encourage more people to engage with the Trust and get out and experience the wildlife and landscape, and commented that they are already seeing more families visiting and making use of the new facilities. Our next speaker, Rachael Wright the Cley Community and Education Officer, explained the type of events that are being held to help inspire and attract a wider audience, these include workshops, talks, performances, Tai Chi, art and poetry, a really varied programme. Rachael told a lovely story of a gentlemen that she met recently who had been living in Cley for 35 years, but had never visited the reserve during that time, however, after attending a recent taster event, he has become enthused and is becoming a regular visitor, a real success story for the centre.

We then got to sample the fabulous looking cakes provided by the NWT cafe, the Bakewell sponge was delicious. (I heard the coffee and walnut was pretty good too!)

Volunteers at Cley, photo by Elizabeth Dack
Then for the best bit of the day, a tour of the nature reserve, this was only a flavour of the reserve as we didn’t have time to see the whole thing. We split into groups and I went with wardens Adam Pimble and Carl Brooker. It was at this stage that it started to rain, I am glad to say that no one was deterred, we put on our waterproofs and headed out. Despite the rain you could still feel that you were somewhere really special. 

We walked along Attenborough's Walk heading to Watling Water on the new land at Cley. Adam and Carl explained how they had removed the artificial ponds which were installed by wildfowlers in the past, and have created a more natural scrape, with varying depths, which already looked such a natural part of the environment and was being well used by birds. 

Avocet at Cley Marshes, photo by Elizabeth Dack
We saw an avocet pretending to be injured with a damaged leg, Carl pointed out that this is a trick they use to distract predators from their chicks, and indeed there were two small chicks nearby. We also saw marsh harrier, and learnt how water levels are being managed across the reserve to create the best habitats for birds.

It was a real treat to have a guided tour with the wardens, and I’m sure the other group had an equally interesting tour with David. It was also lovely to be able to talk to volunteers as we walked, everyone was smiling and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

A fun day was enjoyed by all!
Thank you to all who helped make the afternoon a success and to the volunteers who attended as without them it wouldn’t have happened. The afternoon was part of a series of events which take place during the year, to help our volunteers gain an enhanced understanding of the work of the Trust, and also a social occasion where they can meet and chat to other volunteers, share experiences, and hopefully feel more aware of the fabulous team of volunteers of which they are a part and of which the Trust greatly appreciates. If you are interested in volunteering or attending future events please contact me at

1 comment:

  1. A lovely very informative visit despite the rain. It was good to see all the hard work carried out getting rid of the wild fowlers ponds and bringing back natural scrape is now being used by wildlife. I didn't know avocets pretended to be injured to distract predators. I can also tell you Angela the coffee and walnut cake was Delicious.