Some days you just have to get out in the sunshine - but not many have as good an excuse as we had today!! After the recent expert confirmation that what we had found on the marsh was actually the motor of a German V2 rocket from WWII, we had a race against time to retrieve it before the contractors cut off our access with the start of development of the construction site for cell 1.
Volunteers swiftly moved into position this morning, ably supervised by Ellen Heppell from the ECC Archaeology Field Team. We soon discovered that there was more of it under the marsh than above so plenty of spades made light work and eventually it was free of the sticky essex mud and our friends from HP Elderton skillfully lifted it over the seawall and transported it to a place of security.
This wonderful find will now require some careful conservation so that we may use it in future as part of our education and heritage display. WWII is just one era which we hope to bring to life for future audiences, as we develop our facilities and events and activities can be more creative.
For the full story check out our Flickr pages on http://www.flickr.com/photos/rspb_wallasea_island_wild_coast_project/sets/
Imagine you have a huge house, which you feel safe and comfortable in and it has everything you need - a warm,comfortable bed, cupboards full of food, space for you to raise your family and in which to see them grow up to be strong and healthy. Then gradually this space is taken over by people. People who don't care that it's your home, don't seem to see you, disrupt your life, your feeding habits and whose dogs scare your children.This is a problem that the RSPB wrestle with all the time. While we want to bring people closer to nature, share our passion for the wonderful wildlife spectacle in our countryside and encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors with us we also have a duty to care for and protect those unable to protect themselves and who were in those spaces long before we found them. Added to that many of those species, be it animal,insect or flower, are rare and endangered.RSPB scientists have done quite a bit of survey work on exactly this sort of problem - and I was fortunate enough to be at a presentation about this subject earler this week. The audience learnt how a nightjar population suffered from predation of nests by crows - but only where dogs scared the mother bird off the nests along a track frequented by dog owners. Another island habitat for Chough was visited in huge numbers by holidaymakers during August. It was found that the fledglings and their parents moved to another area, not as plentiful in food during this invasion and as a consequence failed to thrive and became malnourished and unlikely to survive the winter. In another area several metres either side of a public footpath through scrub showed much less dense a population of wildlfe, which given the length of this track added up to a considerable areaThis is a sobering thought to those of us who like our walks in the countryside and own a dog who walks at least 4 times the distance when off the lead! I guess the answer is to attempt to explain to our visitors that the shiny new sign with an image of a dog on a lead is not just there for 'other dog owners' or ornament. Between the months of March and September the nature we all love to see is busy in a fight for survival. Adders are coming out of hibernation and warming up on the seawall banks, many birds are building nests on the ground ( not all in trees!!) and wild flowers are attracting insects and eventually turning to seeds both of which are food for many things.Loving Nature means taking care of it too - so that your kids and mine will be able to show the same things to their kids as we do to them. So sorry Fido, you're on the lead from now on!
St Patrick's Day ( March 17) turned out to be what the Irish refer to as a 'soft' day, but it didn't deter the entrants to our Wallathon 2012! Our invitation to walk the bounds of RSPB Wallasea went out in all the local papers and on BBC Radio Essex and the enthusiasm with which this was received locally was amazing. The RSPB Walvol team turned out in force, and in great cheer, with a variety of green hats, shirts, trousers and boots to add a little fun to the day. Health and safety was added to by the sole member of the Wallasea Mountain Rescue Team! Thanks paul.:)
So as you might guess, we weren't downhearted by the dismal weather and neither were the participants. First up were a dozen cyclists, some having travelled by the newly launched ferry from Burnham-on-crouch. Following them were the runners, quite a few of which came from Rochford Council - great to see you guys!
And last but not least we had a surprising number of walkers - all dressed for the occassion in their wet weather gear - bringing the numbers of hardy people to 72! Had it been a day with weather the like of which we have had ever since the event we could have been inundated with energetic people wanting to walk the bounds of Wallasea - so let's hope we are able to run it again next year.