Animal Assistance in the Autumn

Photo Credit: Anna Roebuck (Environmental and Recycling Artist) Paul Wyer from the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire with hedgehog sculpture that now resides in Marmalade Lane

The autumn garden can, with planning, provide a larder of berries, fruit and insects that form the natural diet of our local wildlife. However, as many of our gardens are small, and without varied plants, structure, and wild areas, we need to give the wildlife a helping hand as food begins to dwindle after the summer plenty. Have a look at our blog post from last autumn for tips: tinyurl.com/opwpautumn

As hedgehogs became a such feature at each of the summer events: there’s a hedgehog character in our play Saving the World, Starting at Your Doorstep, Horace/Prickles/Spike the sculpture is now living happily at Marmalade Lane, and a hedgehog is at the centre of the artwork created for the skate park by Kadero – we’ll start with tips on how we can help them – they’re now a symbolic reminder in Orchard Park to look after our wildlife. They’re good in this reminder role because their prickles can tend to get them in pickles, particularly where litter is concerned. When hungry they’ll get into any cans, packets, and bags lying around as they look for scraps of food – and due to their backwards facing spikes, they’ll often get stuck. Because they’ve been declining rapidly in the UK since the 1950s, they’re also a species of conservation concern. They really do need a helping hand in urban areas where thankfully they seem to be doing a little bit better.

Hedgehogs

One of the main things you can do to help is to make sure your garden has access for hedgehogs. Many of our front gardens have hedgehog friendly fencing, but what about your back garden if you’re lucky enough to have one? If you’ve got fence panels all the way around sealing your garden off consider cutting a CD sized hole in one of the panels, and ideally in a panel that connects to your neighbour’s garden. If everyone did this, it would create a hedgehog highway allowing access to a significant total area for hedgehogs. They need to be able to roam to find food and a mate – males can cover about three kilometres in a single night. 

Plant some shrubs or a hedge, as they prefer to move around under cover. 

A compost heap or log pile will give them a safe and cosy spot to spend the winter.

Provide some supplementary food – chicken cat biscuits are a favourite and they need help at this time of the year to put enough weight on to ensure they can survive their winter sleep. 

Please don’t use slug pellets, weed killers, and other poisons in your garden. We had reports of two or three dead hedgehogs on the school field a couple of years ago, it’s thought they died because of slug pellet use – hedgehogs eat the poisoned slugs which in turn of course poison the hedgehogs. 

Spiders

Both species photographed in Orchard Park home

Autumn is the time when you’re likely to see a large, brown, hairy spider scuttle across the carpet or find one in your bath or sink. Some information suggests they’ve just moved in temporarily to find shelter from harsh conditions outside, whilst other reports say they’re inside our homes all year round, but we only notice them in autumn when they come out of their hidey holes looking for a mate. For the arachnophobes, see if you can learn to live with them for the natural pest control service they offer, left alone they’ll rid your home of aphids, flies, and ants. You could even try giving them a name and watch them as though they’re a pet. 

The Zebra Jumping Spider shown above in real life is only about half a centimetre and actually quite cute if you take a proper look at it. You can see four of its four pairs of eyes. The two eyes at the front can move but the eyes at the side are fixed, and as a result of their eight eyes, they have excellent vision.  

The Large House Spider on the other hand has a body length of 10-16cm. The one in the photo was about ten centimetres including its legs. 

Birds

Robin singing

If you’ve not fed the birds before now, try offering some mixed seeds as they’re versatile and will attract a variety of species. Fat balls and fat cakes are particularly good as we go into the colder weather to give energy to our feathered friends. You can make your own seed feeder using a plastic bottle or fill a half coconut shell with fat.

Remember to keep your bird feeders as clean as possible – this is very important for the health of our visiting feathered friends!

Make a small pond to offer a bathing and drinking space for birds. Even a washing up bowl will help. 

Aquatic wildlife

Habitats can be made next to ponds to offer vital spaces for hibernating species like the Common Toad. Twigs, log piles, flowerpots and leaves can usually do the trick in providing a suitable home. 

Autumn is a good time to remove any dead leaves from your pond to reduce the possibility of poisonous gases that could affect any underwater creatures should the pond freeze over during winter. Native oxygenating plants such as Water crowfoot can help your pond provide oxygen to any aquatic wildlife.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Toad

Preparing your garden for Winter

Although it can be tempting to give your garden a bit of a spruce in Autumn by removing all the decaying plants, our wildlife really loves these as places to hide and shelter from the cold. Herbaceous plants and hollow stemmed plants are great little living spaces for overwintering insects. Even seedheads can make excellent habitat for insects as well as a great source of food for visiting birds and other wildlife.

Any fallen leaves that you may clear from paths can be used as mulch on flowerbeds – perfect for foragers such as blackbirds. 

Photo credit: Emma Kajiyama, OPWP volunteer

Try to avoid pruning hedges as they are havens for wildlife over winter, providing food, shelter and protection. Adding different species to your hedge will attract a wider variety of wildlife. For example, ivy can be a great source of food for insects, including late-flying bees such as the Carder bee, whilst berry-producing plants can help entice many birds to your garden.

If you don’t have a garden, you can still put up a nest box to provide shelter from the harsher weather. Nest boxes can be vital for the survival rate of certain bird species such as the Wren and members of the Tit family, increasing the possibility for more breeding birds once spring arrives.

Check out opwildlife.wordpress.com for more tips specific to the wildlife that lives on your doorstep

All photos OPWP unless otherwise credited

Thank you to new volunteer Emma Kajiyama for providing the text and photos for sections on preparing for winter, and aquatic animals and other info for this blog post 🙏

Nurturing Nature Connections

“Owing to the benefits to both human and nature’s well-being, and wide spread disconnection, a connection with nature is something many people and organisations are keen to increase. So there is a need to know how best to do this. ” Professor Miles Richardson on the Finding Nature website.

“There are many types of relationship with nature, both sustainable and not, and we’ve recently refreshed the guidance on the positive types of relationship identified in our pathways to nature connectedness research in a new postcard (PDF).” (ibid.)

Skate and Create Event Photos

The beginnings of the art for the banner, with artist Kadero

If you’ve been checking the blog to see your artwork created at our Skate and Create Session on 30 August, here it is! Along with photos of the skating and litter picking.

If you have any photos of the event to share, please send them to opwildlife@gmail.com and we’ll include them with credit of course. We’d particularly like to see more photos of the skating action.

Many thanks to Kadero the artist, Max from Shredder Skate School, Mark from Romsey Mill for the BBQ, and to Orchard Park Community Council for hosting the event. We’re very grateful to the Community Reach Fund and TK Maxx Team at Neighbourly for their financial support for the event.

We’ll be working on the design of the banner over the next few weeks and we’ll include all artwork we collected on the day.

OP Environment Day

Many thanks indeed to the folks that joined us on Friday for Orchard Park Wildlife Project’s Environment Day, a chance to think about what we can all do to for our environment, wildlife, and neighbours. There were lots of passionate people with important messages to share. We had a steady trickle of folks throughout the day and most people that I spoke to said they’d found value in the day.

I’ve included a few photos. If you have any pics that you’re happy to share, please send them on and I’ll include them, with credit of course, in this blog post.


We had a spread of bread, dips, biscuits and drinks for people to share whilst they had a chance to meet their neighbours. It was lovely to hear families new to Orchard Park had learned a little about the community and each other #TheBigLunch

Horace the hedgehog created by Anna Roebuck Environmental and Recycling artist with help from community members is gorgeous, and he’s going to be happy in his home safe with the K1 co-housing community, and visible to Orchard Park residents and visitors –  symbolic as a reminder to look after our wildlife, habitats, and environment.

Thank you so very much again to all of the people that gave your time to set up and run the event. See below for extra information on:

Skate and Create – our wildlife needs you! 30 August 10am – 4pm

Collect a bag of litter from the Wildlife Area and surrounds to get a free skate lesson with Shredder. Make art with Kadero for a banner showing the dangers of litter to our wildlife. There’ll also be a BBQ 🍔

👟 Suitable for all ages and abilities.

🛹 Max from Shredder Skate School will have some skateboards, helmets, and pads for elbows etc. to borrow, but if you do have your own equipment please do bring that.

🖌 Art materials will be provided.

📆 Limited drop in sessions will be available on the day.

How to find us

The art session will be run in the multi function room opposite the skate park. There are free car parking spaces available. Orchard Park is currently being served by A and D Busway services (not the usual B) and stops are opposite to usual, so southbound services pass through the northern stop, and northbound services pass through the southern stop closest to Kings Hedges Rd. The Citi 1 bus also stops nearby on the corner of Mere Way and Arbury Rd, and the Citi 8 stops on the corner of Blackhall Rd and Histon Rd just before the Kings Hedges Rd junction.

Family friendly. Free. 🛹👟

Contact Max to book your session at: shredderskateschool@gmail.com

Drama Workshop 29 July 10am – 4pm including 3.15pm performance

Click here to see the performance in a film we created after the Drama Workshop

Our Wildlife Needs YOU

Work with a visiting director, writer, and teacher to devise and perform a piece of drama that will save the world – starting with the wildlife on your doorstep.

Come along and take part in our Drama Workshop, or if acting isn’t your thing, come and see the performance at 3.15pm. Or perhaps you’d like to help with setting up the show? No prior acting experience is necessary, but we actively welcome those from youth drama groups.

The event is free and accessible.

The event will be held in the Large Hall of the Orchard Park Community Centre, Central Avenue, CB4 2EZ. There are parking bays at the Community Centre, or otherwise in residential streets nearby. The Guided Busway stop at Orchard Park West is just a couple of minutes walk away, currently the A and D services are running through Orchard Park (not the usual B due to A14 road works).

  • Please book your spot via: opwildlife@gmail.com – some drop ins available (or call 07902 454367 for info)
  • Suitable for ages 10 and upwards
  • Bring lunch and a drink
  • There’ll be free hot drinks for adults, and there are shops nearby for snacks
  • Children aged under 12 will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult
  • There will be a performance of the piece at the end of the workshop which will be filmed and edited for inclusion on our website
  • All performers will be required to sign a release form
  • Children 12 – 17 that are not accompanied to the workshop by an adult will need to have a release form signed by a parent/guardian/responsible adult if they’re taking part in the performance:
    • click here for the form to print, complete, and bring with you or
    • complete the form on your computer adding signatures digitally and email to opwildlife@gmail.com or
    • print the form, complete it, and take a photograph to email to opwildlife@gmail.com
  • The performance will be open to the public to watch around 3.15pm
  • Please bring a plain black t-shirt/top for the performance

Orchard Park Wildlife Project invites you to join us over the summer holidays for our creatively themed wildlife activities. We’re arranging three – FREE, fun, family friendly, informative events – that we hope will appeal widely. We’ve raised funds to hire professional artists for these events.

We appreciate the generous funding from Education Services 2010 that has made this event possible. We also thank Orchard Park Community Council for their help in setting up and advertising the event.

Environment Fun Day 23 August OP Community Centre and Marmalade Lane – FREE

What’s where….

The Large Hall of the Orchard Park Community Centre, is at Central Avenue, CB4 2EZ. There are parking bays at the Community Centre, or otherwise in residential streets nearby. The Guided Busway stop at Orchard Park West is just a couple of minutes walk away, currently the A and D services are running through Orchard Park (not the usual B due to A14 road works). Marmalade Lane is just a couple of minutes walk away, or can be reached via Orchard Park East busway stop.

We’ll be making the large hedgehog sculpture and most stalls and the picnic will be at The Orchard Community Centre, whilst other activities will be kindly hosted by Marmalade Lane, providing an opportunity for you to see the RIBA East 2019 award winning co-housing development at K1.

1.  THE ORCHARD COMMUNITY CENTRE:

  • Underwater themed BOUNCY CASTLE
  • Making HEDGEHOG SCULPTURE
  • RIVERFORD Organic Farmers
  • LUSH stall and litter pick
  • A TOYS LIFE AND BEYOND toy repair and swap
  • CAMBRIDGE FULL CIRCLE stall
  • WILDLIFE TRUST with Harry Hedgehog
  • Hedgehog Gardens Histon Impington and Orchard Park
  • EDEN PROJECT BIG LUNCH Community Picnic
  • GAMES And PRIZES

2.  MARMALADE LANE:

  • FILMS AND DISPLAYS, Saving The World – Starting At Your Doorstep, The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary, and info on litter and litter picks….Plus A14 Action Group

More about what’s on….

Come and have a bounce around on the Underwater themed Bouncy Castle. We’ll be turning it into an artistic statement too, if you’d like to be in the photos 🐠🐟🐬🐳🐋


Join in and help to make a fantastic art piece with, by, and for our community with Environmental and Recycling Artist Anna Roebuck – we’re currently planning a hedgehog sculpture to show the dangers of litter to wildlife….we hope Harry Hedgehog will approve! It’ll have a hedgehog home in it’s base. Please save CLEANED, BROWN, and WHITE plastic to bring along on the day – it will be incorporated into the sculpture. Bottle tops can be brought along separately too for Anna’s other artworks.

Eden Project Communities Big Lunch We’ll be having a picnic outside the Community Centre in the spirit of Eden Project Communities Big Lunch (they don’t just have to be held in July) so bring your lunch and/or something to share with your neighbours 🍕🥗 and of course, if you bring anything in brown or white plastic, please wash it and add it to our hedgehog sculpture 🦔🌎

🍞🥗🧁OPWP and OPCC will be providing some homemade (plastic packaging free) bread, sandwich fillings, cakes, soda and freshly made popcorn for the picnic…. 🍞🥗🧁so we don’t make too much, or too little, if you haven’t let us know you’ll be coming via facebook, please can you indicate in the comments below if you’re planning to join us, thank you 🙏

🍞🥗🧁

A Toys Life and Beyond toy repair and toy swap – if you have a broken toy that you love which requires some TLC, to book your repair please email: atoyslifeandbeyond@gmail.com

detailing:

  • what the toy is
  • what the problem is
  • mention that it’s for the Orchard Park Environment Day 23 August

A Toys Life and Beyond will also be able to take a few drop ins on the day, but please book in advance to avoid disappointment. There’ll be someone from A Toys Life and Beyond there all day, and they’ll actively be doing their repair cafe between 11am-2pm.

Don’t forget to bring along toys in good condition and/or in working order to swap.

We’re also looking for a suitable space that might be able to host a Toy Library if community members would use this? Get in touch if you’re interested or have location ideas.

🧸🚂

Litter Picking with Lush as part of their national clean up campaign, and a pop up Lush shop with their Naked packaging free products. The Orchard Community Centre will smell wonderful 😀

Riverford Organic Farmers will be there – they use minimal packaging and when it is used, the majority is recycled and recyclable. Their fruit and veg is delivered weekly in a reusable box that they collect empty and replace with one full of your goodies. They’ll have some samples and a selection of tasters. Find out more at their stand.

Cambridge Full Circle will have a pop up stall with their ethical and environmentally friendly products with minimal or no packaging.

Harry Hedgehog from the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire will be there with lots of local wildlife information – come along and say hello 🦔

Information/stands from:

Hedgehog Gardens Histon Impington and Orchard Park work to make gardens accessible to hedgehogs

A14 Action Group A group set up in the wake of phase 5 of the A14 upgrade project to bring people together and look at constructive ways to achieve the best possible outcomes across the villages of Histon and Impington (includes Orchard Park). Ask to join the Facebook Group.

This event has been made possible through generous funds provided by Lush, The Community Reach Fund, TK Maxx Team at Neighbourly, and BPHA. We are also grateful to the Orchard Community Centre and residents of Marmalade Lane for hosting the event.

Photos from Eden Project Communities – Big Lunch Community Walk – OPWP Reception

All photos and videos in this post are credited to Eden Project Communities – many thanks to Diana Vogtel of Eden Project Communities for sending the photos and videos they took at the Eden Project Communities Big Lunch Community Walk reception at Orchard Park near to our Wildlife Area, Wildflower Bank, and Orchard.

Orchard Park Wildlife Project were very happy to receive the Big Lunch Community Walkers – they were carrying with them all the positive spirit of communities they’d visited on their way 😊 We chatted, had tea and cakes, and had a look around our wildlife habitats.

We’ve had, and continue to have, some difficult times in Orchard Park and we need all the community spirit we can foster – it was great to have the spotlight on us for something very positive. Thanks for visiting us Big Lunch Community Walkers 🙂

OPWP also thanks Orchard Park Community Council for providing the multi use room for the event, and OPCC Chair Andrew Chan for providing the most delicious cakes 😋 (check out his cake tips in the video below) and for joining the walkers as they visited other green projects in Cambridge. Finally, thanks to everyone from the OP community that came along too 🙂 it was great to meet some new people, and we hope to see you all again soon.

Andrew’s top cake tips
Leaving the multi use room for a look around the Orchard

Photos from Cambridge’s green projects visited by the Big Lunch Community Walk

Wildflower Bank Mini Bioblitz 5 July, after school

Join us at 3.20pm on 5 July for an informal mini Bioblitz of the Wildflower Bank, Ring Fort Rd, CB4 2GR. The event will run for two hours and you’re welcome to join us for as little or long as you like. All equipment will be provided. Children 16 and under must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Sadly, many people don’t realise what a precious resource the Wildflower Bank is – the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since WWII and that’s having a negative impact on the insects that rely on it, and in turn the birds and bats that feed on them.

It’s an opportunity to get involved in Citizen Science (see video below), learn about the importance of our local plants and invertebrates, and support Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign. It’ll be an accessible, free, fun, informative, and family friendly activity – easy to join as you collect children from school.

The Wildflower Bank will be brimming with plants and buzzing with insects in July, and this Citizen Science event is being run as (an informal) bioblitz – where experts and members of the public will try to identify as many of these species as we can in this particular area and in the set time. Members of the public are encouraged to come along to learn, and Cambridge based naturalists are very welcome and encouraged to come along and share their expertise. All plant and invertebrate records from the bioblitz will be provided to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre.

Click here to see all animals and plants we’ve identified at the Wildflower Bank so far

We will also show people how to use the simple key to identify flowers on the sign we had installed at the Wildflower Bank. It shows pictures and flowering times for the different types of flowers found there, some of the insects, and depictions of wildlife drawn by the school children. 

We’re working with Orchard Park Community Council to have our roadside verges managed for wildlife as per Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign and as per our Habitats Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust BCN. It’s important to monitor the diversity of the flowers. If the diversity is down a lot from last year, we will undertake any necessary remedial measures as a community event.

Thanks so very much to Tim and Carol Inskipp of OPWP for their expertise with identifying all creatures great and small, Lush for the Charity Pot Party last year to fundraise for equipment for these activities, Education Services 2010 for their funding of the sign and tools, Orchard Park Community Council for managing the mowing schedule for wildlife benefit and collaboration with the sign, and last but not least Orchard Park Community Primary School for joining OPWP’s activities.

Click here for information on last year’s mini bioblitz