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Wild Downham Market group to hold first event including photo exhibition – with public invited to join

A group of Downham residents with a passion for wildlife will be holding a photographic exhibition this weekend, featuring snapshots captured throughout the town.

Wild Downham Market, consisting of residents from the town with a passion for nature and wildlife, is inviting members of the public to see work by wildlife photographer Dave McGough and learn how you can help nature at the event being held at Downham Town Hall this Saturday.

Wild Downham Market began to form during the Covid-19 pandemic and was initially led by naturalist Tim Bennett who died before he could see the group develop.

Waxwings in Downham Market in January. Picture: Dave McGough
Waxwings in Downham Market in January. Picture: Dave McGough

It is still in its early stages and meets to share news and sightings of wildlife in the area.

Group member and West Norfolk councillor Andy Bullen said: “During the pandemic when people were isolating at home, it was recognised how important engaging with local wildlife can be for wellbeing and mental health.

“Many people were made aware of the wildlife that lives amongst us such as birds, insects, mammals and also wildflowers.

Wild Downham Market is holding a free event
Wild Downham Market is holding a free event

“Dave decided to organise an exhibition of his work at the Downham Town Hall and things developed from there into Wild Downham Market."

Last year, Wild Downham Market worked with Nature Volunteer Network, which provided local seeds for a new wildflower bed on the Memorial Field, with additional beds planned for other areas of the town.

Another group was also set up to help the local common swift population, called WINGS (Swifts in West Norfolk Group), which has been supported by Downham Town Council.

The council agreed for a swift tower to be installed in the tower of Downham Town Hall – with the material for the swift boxes and the construction and installation done at no cost.

“Swift populations in the UK have declined 60% in the last 25 years and they rely on nest sites in buildings, so they are special in that they exclusively live amongst us,” Cllr Bullen added.

“Other initiatives have included co-operating and advising in the building of a house martin tower next to the River Ouse, with others planned nearby.”

This weekend’s exhibition will give residents and those interested a chance to learn about and join Downham’s wildlife group.

It also offers people the chance to learn how they can help wildlife and meet people who are also interested in nature.

Other organisations such as Ryston Rachel’s Hedgehogs, WINGS (Swifts In West Norfolk Group), Nigels Nature Walks, NARVOS (Nar Valley Ornithological Society), The Toad Patrol, Forward Day Centre and Nature Volunteer Network will also be attending.

It will be the first Wild Downham Market event, with hopes that it will become an annual fixture in the town’s event calendar.

“We also hope it will lead to more people enjoying and learning about wildlife in Downham so we can share experiences in the future and organise talks, walks and other events,” Cllr Bullen added.

The event will take place at Downham Town Hall on Saturday from 10am-2pm. Entry is free of charge.

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