Autumn Activities


I was rather hoping we would have a few more days of summer before it started feeling autumnal. Today feels autumnal and the leaves on my willow seem to be turning brown already. You can use the Wildlife Watch ID sheet to explore and identify our variety of local trees in Orchard Park.

As it gets noticeably colder, those of us with a home and cash to pay for it can turn the heating on to get ourselves through autumn and winter, but wildlife need to prepare to cope as seasons change. We can help.

If you have plants in your garden that shed their leaves, then rake the leaves and leave them in a pile in a corner. You can also add any cuttings from tidying up. Invertebrates will be able to use a sheltered spot like this for overwintering.

If you don’t have any berry producing plants for this year, plant them for next year ready to help feed birds through the following winter Click here for advice from RSPB. Add food to bird feeders – suet cakes are particularly good at this time of year.

Hedgehogs can reproduce any time between April and September, and so for juveniles born late in the year it is crucial they feed up to get them through winter. Cat and dog food (no fish or fish oils) and fresh water can help them to prepare to overwinter. I filmed the talk at the Community Centre by Mary from Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital and will be adding that to the website soon for more practical advice on hedgehog care. I was delighted to see a healthy looking hedgehog in my garden a week or so ago.

OPWPs next activities are being planned at the moment. Our scheduled activity for September was not possible as we couldn’t plant the wild flower area next to the Community Centre due to access issues. October’s planned activities include collecting fruit from the orchard area over by the sports ground – I checked at the weekend and there are quite a few fruits over there, and adding signs about the importance of the wildlife habitats in that area. I’m also looking into appropriate management of the orchard trees. Lush are very kindly doing another Charity Pot Party fundraiser for us during Wild About Gardens Week, and I’m meeting people from Transition Cambridge tomorrow to discuss disabled access to wildlife activities. We’ll keep you updated as plans progress. In the meantime, enjoy the sun which has come out since I started writing this post.

The Importance of Citizen Science to the birds and the bees and the herps and the hedgehogs….

good goldfinch

What is Citizen Science video – I first posted a link to this a couple of months ago when we announced our Orchard Park Citizen Science activities.

Reports released yesterday by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) highlight the importance of Citizen Science. Their website says “Through the efforts of volunteers participating in BTO surveys, the bird populations of the British Isles have been monitored more effectively and for longer than those of most other parts of the world. This has produced a uniquely rich and detailed body of scientific work. This will help us to understand the complex challenges facing wild birds at a time of great change in the environment.”

The reports provide information on the Annual Totals for the Nest Record Scheme, and Species Longevity Records for Britain and Ireland. The longevity records are based on information carried on rings placed on birds by volunteers, and reports of that information to the BTO by volunteers.

Checking the longevity records for some of the regular visitors to my garden:

I’ve started to see Robins return to the garden recently, did you know they could live this long? You might be surprised to see how long some of the small and colourful visitors can live. Of course these records show the oldest recorded individuals, but they give an indication that the birds, on average, might live longer than you might imagine.

Robin  Erithacus rubecula     8 years 4 months 30 days
Blue Tit  Cyanistes caeruleus     10 years 3 months 10 days
Great Tit  Parus major     13 years 11 months 5 days
Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto     16 years 10 months 17 days
Goldfinch  Carduelis carduelis     8 years 8 months 4 days
Dunnock  Prunella modularis     11 years 3 months 7 days

After confirmation that we have a good breeding population of Common Lizards in Orchard Park, we hope people will join us to help with a population estimates and longer term monitoring of these beautiful reptiles on our doorstep. Information we collect can be passed on to the relevant herpetological organisations for their use in wider monitoring schemes too..

We can also help by mapping hedgehogs: and counting bees and butterflies and…..there’s so much we can do to help.