Thanks again to Lush for a fun and batty time at the Charity Pot Party

Thanks again to @LushCambridge for a fun and batty time yesterday. We’re always so grateful for the support we get from Lush, we bought our bat detector with money raised by one of their Charity Pot Party fundraisers. This time we were promoting #WildAboutGardens week and encouraging folks to take a simple step to help bats. Lots of people agreed to do something this week – just look at the bat above covered in symbols each of which represents a pledge: to add a water feature, keep cats in at dusk, reduce lighting, go organic, make a bat home, provide a bug hotel, or add insect friendly plants.

For more info on how you can help bats see: Wild About Gardens Week Resources

 

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@LushCambridge Charity Pot Party 22/10/16 Going Batty for #WildAboutGardensWeek

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This year’s Wild About Gardens Week is 24-30 October 2016. It’s focussing on simple steps we can take to support bats and other wildlife. There are lots of things you can do right now to support wildlife in your garden or community green space. Come along to @LushCambridge on Saturday 22nd October to find out how you can help our local bats.

The lovely folks @LushCambridge are very generously holding another Charity Pot Party for Orchard Park Wildlife Project – so please consider buying a pot of the gorgeous smelling lotion that makes your skin silky smooth (like a bat’s wing?!?!). The proceeds will allow Orchard Park Wildlife Project to purchase the tools and equipment we need to run our free community events that aim to make Orchard Park better for wildlife and people.

We’ll have plenty of ideas so you can prepare for Wild About Gardens Week and find out about how you can help our local bats, and we’d like you to pledge to do something to help them during Wild About Gardens Week. There’ll be fun bat masks and bat puppets which you can decorate and in plenty of time for Halloween. We’ll show you how a bat detector works (Orchard Park Wildlife Project bought our detector with funds kindly raised by a Lush Charity Pot Party) and you can listen to bat calls. Lush staff will be looking a bit batty too!

From the Wild About Gardens Week Website:

“Wild About Gardens Week 2016 is a joint initiative by the RHS, The Wildlife Trusts and Bat Conservation Trust to encourage people to support wildlife in their gardens, with a focus on our UK bats. This is more important than ever. In 2013, wildlife researchers found that 60 percent of UK animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years. Among the variety of reasons for this is loss of habitat.

Many of our common garden species – bats, hedgehogs, house sparrows, and common frogs, for example – are becoming much less common. There are an estimated 15 million gardens in the UK. Together they cover a greater area than all the National nature reserves! By making our own gardens and local green spaces more wildlife-friendly, we can help support a wide range of species.”

For information on threats to bats in the UK see the Bat Conservation Trust page: why bats are declining.

We hope to see you there – do come along and say hello 🙂

Photographs from the Summer Safari

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Essex Skipper. Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

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White-tailed/Buff-tailed Bumblebee (only the queens can be ID’d to species). Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

 

Beetle_Orchard Park

Black Clock Beetle. Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

A few of the first photos from the Orchard Park Summer Safari, a few more may be on their way. We’ve updated the species list for Orchard Park, and as with the photos above, some of the species identifications need to be confirmed.

We had a lot of energetic youngsters along to the summer safari this time. We started off with a look at the lizard habitat and although we didn’t see lizards, there were some voles in the area. A variety of birds and butterflies were spotted, before heading to the Wildlife Area where a hedgehog was seen at the perimeter, along with Common Pipistrelle bats feeding. As Carol and Tim Inskipp were leaving we spotted a Swallow-tail Moth, and what was thought to be a Convolvulus Hawk-moth- a really large moth with a wing span of 80-120mm near to the Premier Inn. I received an update from Tim recently, and he now believes this large moth was a Poplar Hawkmoth. There was also an additional species spotted, a Shaded Broad-bar.

Many thanks to everyone who came along, and special thanks to Tim and Carol for making our second Summer Safari possible 🙂

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

Rosis, Hérault, FRANCE By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Convolvulus Hawk-moth. Photo credit: Tony Morris. Image unchanged and used under Creative Commons Licensing

 

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Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) near Hamburg, Germany. Date 17 July 2009
Author: Quartl. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

 

swallow tail moth

External link

Swallow-tailed Moth. One of our more attractive moths Ourapterix sambucaria feeds at Buddleias, Umbellifers, Rosebay willowherb flowers on warm July nights LinkExternal linkCreative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Stan Campbell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Getting Batty about Bats again. Let’s Detect NEW DATE: 1 July 8.30pm

Pipistrellus_pipistrellus_lateral ccCommon Pipistrelle Photo by: Mnolf Location: Kauns, Tirol, Austria Date: 10.06.2005. Creative Commons.

Last year, we confirmed presence of Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) foraging at Orchard Park. We suspect we might have Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) foraging here too, as other bats were seen but not heard using the detector set to the frequency for Common Pipistrelle.

We detect bats using detectors which lower their high frequency calls inaudible to human ears – the frequency is dependent on the species of bat – to a lower frequency which we can hear.

Many thanks to #LushCambridge for their Charity Pot events which funded our bat detector.

The south edge of the long thin strip of Wildlife Area which runs parallel to the A14 embankment, and is to the north of the sports field, is ideal for insects around dusk, and so the bats go there to feed.

For a video about bats from the British Mammal Society, click here (this is a link to their videos on Facebook).

Due to poor weather on the 24th, this event has now been rescheduled for Friday 1st July – meet at the Wildlife Area, end of Ring Fort Road, CB4 (opposite Premier Inn) at 8.30pm with a blanket and some warm clothes, so you’re prepared to wait. Maybe a flask of tea if it’s a bit chilly. The bats come out at different times depending on the light and temperature.

We’ll show you how the detector works, have some recordings of UK bat species to play, show some pictures of UK species, and provide information on how you can help bats. If we’ve seen evidence of bats using the bat boxes in the week or so leading up to the event, we will try to film them. Please note: although the image shows a bat being handled, we won’t be handling them as a special licence is required, and it would be against the law.

This is a free, accessible event, for all ages and abilities.

 

20 March 10-12.30 at the Balancing Pond and Orchard, Habitats Management

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The Orchard September 2015

On 20th March 10am-12.30pm  Orchard Park Wildlife Project are doing habitat management at two adjacent but different sites. Meet over at the Orchard Area (next to the sports ground at the end of Ring Fort Road) at 10.00am. See map Do come along for as long or as little as you can – but please note if you want to take part in Orchard activities, please be at the Orchard at 10.00am for tool use and health and safety training. This is a free, fun and informative event 🙂

Bob, an expert on Orchard Management, will show us how to manage our Orchard Area properly. Experienced volunteers from the Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project will also be coming to help practically, and to brush up on their skills. Bob will provide tools. We hope to gain enough skills so that we can ensure the trees are well managed in the long term. We’d love to be able to harvest the apples in a community event in the autumn. Sadly a lot of apples were picked by children then wasted last year.

From Community Orchards: How to Guide (Department for Communities and Local Government 2011)

“A variety of flora and fauna can be supported by this environment – insects, birds, bees, bats, foxes and small mammals as well as wild flowers…. Orchards can protect bumblebees simply by creating a habitat for them to exist. Both honey bees and bumblebees are beneficial in pollinating orchards.”

We will also be working at the Balancing Pond, adjacent to the Wildlife Area, which has been identified as good habitat for basking reptiles and invertebrates. Although this area is called a pond, it is a dry pond, designed for road run off from the A14. Whilst it would be great to have another healthy pond in Orchard Park (the school has a pond), the sensitivity of amphibians to pollutants in road run off means it can’t developed as a regular pond for frogs and such. Instead, it’s gentle slopes and bare ground should be maintained for basking. We will be removing tree seedlings to help keep the vegetation sparse in this area. We know we have a healthy population of Common Lizards elsewhere in Orchard Park, so we hope these activities will make the Balancing Pond more suitable for them and other wildlife. During the Wildlife Trust BCN’s survey of Orchard Park in preparation for writing the Habitats Management Plan, Essex Skipper, Comma, and Gatekeeper Butterflies, as well as Common Blue Damselflies were seen at the Balancing Pond. Wild Carrot, Hop Trefoil, Common Bird’s-Foot-Trefoil, Yellow Toadflax, Ribwort Plantain and Hoary Willowherb were also present, and these provide nectar, alongside the range of grass species which create a good structure for insects to exploit. Our activities aim to maintain this structure.

SAs lizard

Photo taken by Steven Allain (Cambridge and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group) during our Herpetology activity alongside the A14 last year

We expect the activities to last two hours or so. We will have a small supply of tools for use at the Balancing Pond.

Children 12 and under must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. Some activities will be suitable for all ages and abilities. Due to the sloping nature of the Balancing Pond this area may not be suitable for some people unsteady on their feet, and that includes me!

 

 

Common pipistrelle confirmed in Orchard Park :)

imageDelighted to have seen close up, and heard via a bat detector, three common pipistrelles together over at the far side of the Wildlife Area with Tim and Carol Inskipp this evening. Should be good at our event on Tuesday evening 21st July. We look forward to seeing you there.

For more info see: Bat Conservation Trust and Pipistrelle fact sheet

To bat or not to bat, that’s been the question…

Broken bat box at the wildlife area

Broken bat box at the wildlife area

Last week Chris Vine from the Cambridge Bat Group came to Orchard Park to check if there were any bats, or signs of bats, in the boxes located along the back of the Wildlife Area. After checking boxes on the first 6 poles, sadly no signs of bats were recorded. Boxes on three poles to the far west side of the Wildlife Area, which were inaccessible due to vegetation, remain unchecked.

Clearly this pole has suffered damage so no bats would live there – two boxes are missing and the remaining one is damaged. We should be looking after our bat boxes as bats are a natural pest control and desirable species to have around. To encourage bats we can help by planting a Bat-Friendly Garden – from the Bat Conservation Trust website:

Brown long-eared bat in a hole (Hugh Clark)All our UK bats eat insects – a single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night, so they need plenty of them! You can make your garden bat-friendly by doing things like:

  • Planting night-scented flowers, which attract insects
  • Creating a pond
  • Putting up a bat box for bats to roost in
  • Letting your garden go a bit wild – neatly pruned gardens aren’t as good for insects
  • Making sure you don’t use any chemicals or pesticides on your garden
  • Ask an adult to help you find out more about how to garden for bats – they can visit our ‘Encouraging Bats’ page for more information

Orchard Park Wildlife Project was planning an evening event for 29th June to have a talk on bats, and to do some monitoring of the boxes by filming them at dusk, as Pipistrelle bats – the most likely species to be there – are so small they can go in and out of the box without us seeing them. They are however detectable when watching a slowed down film.

Instead of a whole evening of batty things, we’ve decided to combine a bat event with moths and a mini bioblitz on 21st July. We can identify and examine some daytime species, then move onto night time critters including looking for bats with a more sophisticated detector than the one borrowed so far.

I remain hopeful that there are bats around Orchard Park as I’ve had a couple of independent reports, and Chris from the Cambridge Bat Group thought the Orchard Park Wildlife Area bat boxes are very likely to be in use at some point in time, so it is well worth monitoring them.

I will go over to the Wildlife Area at dusk (9pm) on 29th June with the borrowed detector and my camera for half an hour or so to check for any activity in the unchecked boxes – it won’t be a full on batty event, but if anyone would like to join me they’d be welcome.

Citizen Science – get involved in our upcoming activities – bats, bioblitz and reptiles

We are planning our upcoming activities for June, July, and August. All have a citizen science theme – have a look at the five minute video which explains what citizen science is. Orchard Park Wildlife Project offers an opportunity to get involved in citizen science practically and on your doorstep. We are planning to collaborate with Transition Cambridge for these summer events. Keep an eye on the blog, Facebook page and @opwildlife twitter feed for date and time details once they’re determined.

In June, why not come along to the Wildlife Area to learn about local bat species, use a bat detector, and help us to determine whether the bat boxes there are being used? We’d like people to bring their cameras to film the boxes at dusk when the bats come out to feed – if you have a camera with a zoom that would be great. Then the citizen science part: take your footage home to watch in slow motion and let us know if you saw bats leaving or entering the bat boxes. We’ll provide detailed instructions nearer the time and on the night. If you don’t have a camera or computer, that’s not a problem, I’ll bring a couple of spare cameras and we can watch the footage.

In July we’d like to do a mini bioblitz – the video explains what this is – on a selected site at Orchard Park, perhaps at the area where the self build houses are planned.

In August, we’re planning a reptile survey in the Topper St area to determine if we have reptiles there, and if so what types.

We hope some of these activities will appeal to you. It would be great if these events are successful as a one off, but even better if we can arrange them to be ongoing for longer term monitoring purposes. All information collected will be sent to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre (CPERC) which collates, manages and stores data that describe biodiversity in our local area.