Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fishermen welcome others run along and play elsewhere

Back to my cause celebre! There were hundreds of wildfowl at Wentwood Reservoir yesterday but to do anything more about getting a closer view other than sticking my scope through the bars of the gates like a Special Branch officer on a surveillance operation was impossible. Once again Welsh Waters practice of embracing certain income generating recreational users more than others means that birders are locked out like naughty children.
So what is Welsh Water's policy on access to their landholdings? Paul Henderson Strategic Regulation Manager in his written evidence to the Welsh Assembly Government's Sustainability Committee Inquiry into Access to Inland Water in 2009 gave us a hint. He said:

'We are committed to providing appropriate access and promoting recreational use at our landholdings for the public in so far as there is no significant risk to health and safety, risk of pollution or damage or harmful impact to wildlife'.

Later on in his evidence he re-emphasised this commitment by saying, 'We are always keen to encourage greater use of our sites...........'

Why is it then that we birders are being drowned out when it comes to having fair access arrangements? In  my examination of the 13 recommendations that came out of the WAG inquiry none related to access for the study or enjoyment of biodiversity. Yes there was the reassuring statement that recreation improvements would only be allowed if not detrimental to biodiversity interests,  but in doing so shouldn't the benefits of conserving and enhancing biodiversity be accessible to the public to enjoy and cherish?

Another recommendation featured funding to help improve access to inland waters. In response WAG set up SPLASH  a Water Recreation Challenge Fund for Wales. Since its inception its funded over 65 projects to the tune of over one million pounds but its seems only one project is 'access to wildlife' related. Why is this? Is it that campaigning conservation bodies just don't see a problem with access to nature at wetland sites?
Fine words are offered by Welsh Water and WAG in relation to nature conservation but allowing access for individuals and organisations who are well placed to support their conservation aspirations is all too often restricted or barred. Birders are simply up the proverbial creek without a paddle.


  1. Hi Steve

    What sort of wildfowl numbers were there?


    ps merry xmas and a happy new year

  2. Chris,

    200-300 birds comprising 100+ Tufted Duck, 50+ Canada Goose, also GCGrebe, Mallard, Wigeon,Cormorant, Pochard. Unable to give the site a proper count due to restricted viewing opportunties.

    All the best Steve


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