Join the Educational Community Nene River Wildlife Walks for People and Their Dogs


A series of community events to protect wildlife in and around the River Nene have been organized for the ‘Special Protection Areas’ (SPAs) along its stretch.

The Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme, in association with its partners, organizes free guided walks along the river in areas popular with walkers, to teach them about the species that winter in the area, as well as basic etiquette of dog walking.

Events planned for the area in early spring include a botanical walk at Stanwick Lakes and guided dog walks at Northampton Washlands and Thrapston.

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A group walk at Stanwick Lakes

Molly Simpson, Community Engagement Assistant for Nenescape, who has organized walks in the area, said: ‘Even in a Special Protection Area, wildlife is threatened by what we consider harmless activities, such as letting off-leash dogs, biking and walking off the marked trail, using drones, fishing and water sports.

“All of these activities can disrupt the avifauna that feed along the shores, which means that the birds may not eat enough to survive the season. The risk is that they will fly away and not return to the area. This is a particular problem during the winter months, as reduced daylight hours mean birds have less time to feed.

The Upper Nene Valley Gravel Quarry is a designated Special Protected Area (SPA) and the area covers 1,358 hectares and comprises 20 separate water blocks along the River Nene including Summer Leys Nature Reserve , Northampton Washhouses, Nene Wetlands, Ditchford Lakes and Meadows Nature Reserve. , Higham Ferrers Nature Reserve, Stanwick Lakes, Kinewell Lake and Titchmarsh Nature Reserve.

Bird species that can be spotted in the area in winter and early spring include the purple heron, bittern, whistling duck and great crested grebe.

Molly and Maggie the dog

Molly said: ‘Summer Leys Nature Reserve is popular with keen bird watchers and dog walkers. Many impressive bird sightings take place at this site as its range of habitats suit various species.

“The silt is ideal for waders and therefore attracts mud eaters such as green redhorse and common sandpipers, lapwings and golden plover, whose numbers are in decline. Various species of ducks and birds of prey can be spotted, and the feeder cache is a great place to see smaller birds like bullfinches and goldfinches.

Nenescape enhances interpretation at SPA sites to educate walkers and those who use the area recreationally on how best to reduce their impact.

This includes respecting existing trails and viewing areas, keeping bird feeding away, keeping dogs on a leash and away from birds, cleaning up after dogs and fishing in areas. designated only.

Program manager Amanda Johnson said: “The aim of the walks is to create positive experiences for walkers and wildlife. Making small changes in the way we move through the landscape improves the chances for wildlife to thrive and communities to benefit from the thriving biodiversity offered in return.

A botanic walk takes place in Stanwick Lakes on Tuesday February 15 and guided dog walks with trainers Nathan Watson and Paul Daly in Northampton Washlands on Sunday February 27 and Thrapston on Saturday March 26.

To participate in the Stanwick Lakes Spring Botanical Walk and for more information on nature-related events in the Nene Valley this spring, visit


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