Oliver Burke, Head of Operations

It’s the time of year when the landscape of Nene Park can often seem at its most bleak, but actually if you take the time to look closer, you will see the Park is alive with wildlife.  Many of our Park visitors have been enjoying the sight of our resident otters, whose bold nature and aquatic acrobatics mean they can put on quite a show.  Providing a rare dash of colour at this time of year (and as a result perhaps the easiest time of year to see one), is another keen fisherman, the kingfisher.  Look out for a dart of turquoise blue flash across your field of view.  If you are lucky you may see it perched on a branch overlooking the water, head bobbing, waiting to dive into the icy depths and pick up smaller fish.  Stand on one of our bridges and look down. You will see the water often runs very clear at this time of year.  Below the surface are other predators such as the beautifully striped pike and perch, sitting waiting to ambush their prey, such as roach, dace and maybe even bleak, which are often shoaled in great numbers over the winter.

Our wetland restoration area at Heron Meadow is often looking at its prime during the winter months.  Doing what is does best; holding flood water back to form a series of wet pools, ditches and scrapes, it creates a fantastic environment for our wintering wildfowl such as wigeon and shoveler, often grazing and dabbling at the water's edge.  Look more closely from one of our viewing platforms and you may see ‘little brown jobs’ darting between tussocks of rush.  These are actually snipe, which are very secretive birds and incredibly well camouflaged.  These are largely a winter visitor, but we keep our fingers crossed they may breed at this site in the future.

All these species form part of the important and complex ecological network found across Nene Park’s many wetland areas, all of which are managed for both wildlife and people.  Grazing by cattle and sheep forms a key part of this management, and the livestock from our share farming partnership do a great job as our conservation managers.  Over the last few weeks, staff at the Trust have been working with partners, including the Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trust, to plan some exciting new wetland restoration projects on our Rural Estate, at Sutton and West Holmes.  Work has already started at Sutton, which will see the restoration of a network of ditches and scrapes, to improve these areas for nature.  This in-turn will ensure these spaces provide a year-round visual spectacle for our visitors, whether it’s in the depths of winter or across the other seasons.  Just remember to take the time to stop and take a closer look.  Don’t and you may just miss out!