Exercising our beach cleaning muscles and checking out the Atlantic Marshes project in Somerset
On Wednesday we all headed down the road to Somerset for our annual team day which this year was an event of two halves. Prepared for the driving wind and rain we met Lauren Davis from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) at Sand Bay, just north of Weston-super-Mare, to volunteer our time to help with Beachwatch. The programme runs all year round and aims to clean our beaches of litter which poses a huge threat to wildlife and the environment. MCS also records the amount and type of litter collected to provide concrete evidence of the extent of pollution, which can be used to inform policy, such as the plastic bag levy in Wales. It’s really important work and you can download MCS reports here to find out more.
Kitted out with gloves and litter pickers we broke into teams to clean a 100m stretch of the strandline. A healthy competitive nature helped and within an hour and a half we’d collected an incredible amount of rubbish – almost 10kg! Some notable items amongst the piles of plastic bottle tops and chocolate bar wrappers included a plastic dinosaur, a bingo ball, a set of novelty erasers and a shoe.
After a well-deserved cuppa in the warmth of a local tea room, nicely timed during torrential rain and lightning strikes, we headed further south to the Steart Peninsular to meet WWT’s Habitat Creation and Demonstration Site Manager, Tim McGrath, and to catch up on developments on the Atlantic Marshes project.
WWT are currently working with the Environment Agency on a large coastal management project which will create around 500ha of wildlife habitat by breaching the sea defences around the peninsular where it is bounded by the River Parrett and returning the land to wetlands, including saltmarsh and lagoons. It will eventually become WWT’s tenth site in the UK with public access via boardwalks and cycle paths. We produced some visual impressions for the project some months ago so it was great to see that construction has started on site to make those visions a reality.