1st Cambridge Scout Group

IMG_0701Last Friday evening 1st Cambridge Scout Group did litter picking at the Wildlife Area, Balancing Pond, and grassy areas adjacent to the skate park. Several bin bags of litter were collected. We saved some bottles to repurpose into seed feeders for birds.

Many thanks for helping the people and wildlife of Orchard Park ūüôā

Conservation Optimism Summit 20-22 April 2017, Cambridge Wild and OPWP at ‘Going Wild Solutions Fair’

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Adapted from the Cambridge Conservation Forum website: Conservation is too often seen as a crisis discipline, and one in which bad news dominates. Although we are facing huge challenges, there are many positive stories where conservation and other sectors have made a difference to people’s lives and to the status of wild nature.

A summit which will reframe the conservation movement by celebrating positive thinking in conservation, and putting forward a road map for change towards an optimistic and forward-thinking future begins today.

Lasting 3 days in all, with two days at Dulwich College in Oxford and then one day at ZSL London Zoo, a twin event is also taking place in Cambridge hosted by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative focussing on public outreach and citizen engagement. The summit is part of a global launch to further promote the #Earthoptimism network.

Organisers really want as many people to participate in this event as possible, from academics to students, people working in the arts, to people from the business and public policy sectors who want to promote all the great work that is being done to support nature.

Orchard Park Wildlife Project will be at the David Attenborough Building, Pembroke St, Cambridge,¬†on Saturday from 11.00 as part of the¬†Cambridge Wild network in the ‚ÄėWalk on the wild side – connecting people to nature‚Äô part of Going Wild Solutions Fair.

The Fair is divided into four themes, each of which addresses an aspect of daily life. Within each theme visitors will be able to take part in activities relating to that theme, ask questions, and pledge to make positive changes in their lives.

There no advanced booking for the Solutions Fair: everyone is welcome, so please come along to immerse yourself in what promises to be an uplifting, inspirational and action-packed day.

Buying Smart: reuse, recycle and repair

In this zone visitors will be able to bring clothes to swap, take a fresh look at recycling, learn where their purchases come from, and what the real price of plastic is. This zone will also include a free repair café, so visitors are encouraged to bring their broken bits and pieces, giving these items a second chance and preventing them from ending up in landfill. Stallholders include Amey Cespa, M&S, Circular Cambridge, Pukka Herbs, TRAFFIC, John Lewis, FSC, RSPB, Fauna & Flora International, and Cambridge Repair Café.

Bright Ideas: lowering your carbon footprint

Here visitors will be able to learn how to tread lightly by lowering their carbon footprint through, for example, green energy and sustainable travel, as well as carbon offsetting. Stallholders include Cambridge Carbon Footprint, World Land Trust, Cool Earth, and Transition Cambridge.

Eating Well: learning about a sustainable diet 

This theme aims to dispel the myths around food and the environment, and gets to the nitty gritty of what a sustainable diet really is. Stallholders include Marine Conservation Society, WOUP, Cambridge Food Cycle, WRAP, Cambridge Sustainable Food, Hodmedods, and Hotel Chocolat.

In the Going Wild theme, visitors will see how easy it is to get into nature and what they can do to help wildlife, from hedgehogs to bees. Stallholders include National Trust, Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts, British Ecological Society, Cambridge Wild, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Cambridge Botanic Garden, Roots & Shoots, and Brighton high school.

In addition to the four themes, the top floor of the David Attenborough Building will be given over to the environment and the arts, with poetry readings, writing workshops, bird therapy and more, providing the perfect space to come and relax during the #EarthOptimism Solutions Fair.

The Solutions Fair runs concurrently with the Stories of Hope programme in the Babbage Lecture Theatre on the same day.

Cambridge Wild

From the Cambridge Wild website:

CambridgeWild: www.cambridgewild.org.uk
We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cambridgewild.

What is Cambridge Wild?

  • A¬†programme¬†of wild places –¬†and wildlife-related events in July in Cambridge. We especially like them to be free to access for all ages and abilities. We don’t currently have any funds to support these but can help promote them and, maybe, find extra volunteers (see below).
  • An¬†informal network¬†of people and groups interested in wild spaces, wildlife and how people interact with them – we are based in and around Cambridge and most of us are volunteers (see below).
  • A¬†portal¬†to other resources (see below).¬†Two-page summary list to print.

Programme of events in July 2017

We are still working on this but might have a bit of a ‘pollinator’ focus this year. In the meantime, this is what we have gathered:

  • Cambridge Botanic Garden¬†are working on their summer events programme now
  • Cambridge Natural History Society¬†– have a visit to Wandlebury on 5 July and a Field study at Coldham’s Common on 20 July (events page)
  • Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook¬†will do one or more nature walk(s) along the brook (dates to be arranged)
  • Nightingale garden¬†– we hope to do a bat walk and overnight moth trap ¬†(probably Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July) and maybe some other mini-beast hunting, tree trail or pond-related activities. We might do something at Wulfstan Way shops too – depending on how the new raingardens are doing.
  • Orchard Park¬†– will do a wildlife safari (8 July –¬†activities page)
  • Wildlife Trust – Cambridge Local Group:¬†East Pit glow-worm survey¬†– Weds 26 July from 10.15pm
  • Wildlife Trust around Cambridge¬†are working on their June+ events programme at the moment
  • Wildlife Trust and Scudamores:¬†Bat punt safaris¬†– Friday evenings from May to September (really good!). There is a charge for this but it benefits the Trust.

The ultimate nest architects

I’ve seen long tailed tits around Orchard Park on just a couple of occasions. I’d love to see them again. I’ve had several visits from its cousin the great tit collecting llama wool, hung out for the birds, to use as nesting material. If you can’t get your hands on that, put your own hair (after washing and before any styling products) out, or brush the dog outside.

The Island Naturalist

The nesting season is well underway for a host of avian species as we progress ever further into spring. One bird in particular that I’ve enjoyed spending time watching recently as they’ve busied about constructing their nests is the superb Long-tailed Tit.

Looking like a shuttlecock with wings, these excitable little 9-gram birds spend the winter foraging in tightly-knit family parties of between 8 and 20 members, associating with a mix of crests, tits and warblers in classic woodland feeding parties. Suffering high mortality in harsh overwinter conditions, these family groups will cluster together on cold nights in a communal roost, which greatly reduces their heat loss and thus conserves precious energy.  Come early spring (as early as January in some places) the mature breeding pairs will often peel off these flocks and head to their territories to set about the task of raising a family.

320A5886-2 a long-tailed tit gathering some lichen…

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All of the nest boxes were painted and we hope to see them around Orchard Park soon :)

 

All of the nest boxes are gone. Many thanks to the Community Council for funding them and to Scotsdales for providing free delivery. Do post pictures to show where your bird boxes have been placed around Orchard Park ūüôā

For advice on where to put them click here

Many thanks for all the help setting up, running and taking the stall down too!

Meet the locals, give a bird family a home and contribute to conservation, whilst improving your own wellbeing

 

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Come along to Unwin Square, in front of the shops, on 1st April from 10.00-14.00. Orchard Park Community Council are organising an Easter Fun Day, click here for more information via the OPCC Facebook page. It’s a great chance to meet local folks, or to come along with your neighbours if you already know them.

Orchard Park Community Council have very kindly offered to cover the costs of some nest box kits (donations are welcome to help recoup some of their costs) which you can decorate and place in your garden, next to your window or balcony, to provide homes for our feathered friends. These boxes are most likely to attract birds from the Tit family (Paridae). They’re gorgeous and energetic little things, a joy to watch in the garden.

As mentioned previously, watching birds has been proven to improve our health and wellbeing. One study by the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and University of Queensland, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

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Blue tit, Orchard Park garden winter 2012

We can¬†help you to find a suitable place to put your nest box up and let you know which birds you’re likely to see in your garden. Although many birds will have already started nesting, it’s not unusual for them to change nests for a second clutch, and if you’re not in time for them this year, there’s always next.

More information on nest boxes from the Gardenature website:

When is the latest time to put up a nest box in the season?

Garden birds generally start breeding around mid February, ideally you should have put a nest box in place by the end of Feb beginning of March. This said, we have known bird boxes to be put up in April that have had successful results.

When and how do I clean out the nest box ?

The nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites, these can remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year. We recommend that old nests be removed from August onwards or once you are certain the birds have stopped using the box.

Use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites, and let the box dry out thoroughly before replacing the front or top panels. Insecticides and flea powders must not be used.

How do I position my nest box ?

There are a number of guidelines you can follow to help maximise your chances of birds using a nest box.
It is highly recommended that you face the nest box between North and East. What is important is that you do not face the hole towards the prevailing wind as this will almost certainly mean that rain will get into the box in wet and windy weather. Try to avoid placing a nest box where there will be prolonged exposure to sunlight as overheating inside the box can sometimes result in heat stress to the chicks.
Placing a nest box in close proximity to a feeding device or feeding station may well put off birds from nesting in the box. Most nesting birds are highly territorial and do not like intruders on their territory. Either remove feeders just before and during the breeding season or place the nest box well away from the feeding station.
Make sure that the birds have a clear flight path to the nest box without any clutter directly in front of the entrance. Tilt the box forward slightly so that any driving rain will hit the roof and bounce clear.
To attract Blue Tits, Great Tits etc, ideally your nest box should be fixed two to five metres up a tree or wall to prevent predators such as cats reaching them.
Open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens need to be low down, below 2m, well hidden in vegetation. Those for spotted flycatchers need to be 2-4m high, sheltered by vegetation but with a clear outlook. Woodpecker boxes need to be 3-5m high on a tree trunk with a clear flight path and away from disturbance.
There are several methods for attaching your nest box to a tree. If using a nail try to make sure it is an aluminium one as this will cause the least damage to the tree and pose less of a hazard at a later date if the tree is cut down or trimmed using a chainsaw. Alternatively boxes can be attached with garden wire around the trunk or branch. Holes can be drilled on either side of the bird box roof to help do this. Use a piece of garden hose or similar around the wire to prevent damage to the tree.”
Also see the BTO Website.
Why do we need to provide birds with nest boxes?
From the BTO (see their website for additional information): “Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‚Äėtidied‚Äô and old houses are repaired.”
Benefits of nest boxes 
Adapted from the BTO: “Whether you‚Äôre a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, providing¬†a nest box¬†gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.”
If you’re really keen you can monitor the box and provide feedback to OPWP and the BTO:¬†https://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/monitor

Getting Your Garden Surveyed

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Would you be interested in having your garden surveyed? Cambridge Natural History Society are looking for people who’d be happy to have a survey team identify the animals and plants living there. By taking part you’d be contributing to a Cambridge wide project mapping our local fauna and flora.

From the Cambridge Natural History Society website:

“Urban domestic gardens occupy a substantial proportion of the area of British towns ‚Äď about 20-25% according to a study in Sheffield. They are a notable resource for wildlife and full of interesting plants. In summer 2016 we developed a protocol for recording species in gardens and tried it out in four. We are looking for gardens in as many Cambridge monads (1-km squares) as possible. We are trying to spread the gardens out so that we have only one in each monad.

In each garden we note the plant species, and ask the owner to tell us of the vertebrates that they have seen in the past two years. We also record what we find when we go there. We ask the owner for information about management, in particular pest control and wildlife management. Then we go and make records of (1) Vascular plants (summer), (2) Small mammals (autumn) and (3) Bryophytes (winter). As part of the plant recording we take soil samples and note the weeds in two squares of size 1 m¬≤ placed in flower beds.”

 

They’re also interested to see what we’ve found at the Wildlife Area, so we’ll provide our records.

Please let us know if you’d like to take part if you’re in Orchard Park by sending an email to opwildlife@gmail.com we’ll pass your details on to Cambridge Natural History Society and we can provide some assistance to identify what’s living on your doorstep ūüôā If you’re outside Orchard Park and/or you have ID skills and are willing to help with surveys, please contact¬†NatHistCam@gmail.com

Less litter at the Wildlife Area

Many thanks to Orchard Park Community Council for organising the litter pick today, and to everyone who came to help. It was surprisingly warm, and the sun came out soon after 10am. A few of us went back to the Orchard Community Centre for tea and biscuits afterwards.

Although there was a lot of litter when we arrived, it wasn’t as bad as it has been on other occasions.¬†As usual cans, bottles, and crisp bags were the most numerous items.¬†Particularly concerning are the small pieces of polystyrene packaging. They seem to have come from one large package – we’ve been picking these up for four years now, and yet a lot remain. Animals can eat the pieces causing clogging of the digestive tract and choking. We really need to make sure that no more pieces get into the Wildlife Area, and keep working away to remove these remaining hundreds or thousands of polystyrene bits.

For information on the dangers of litter to wildlife see previous posts:

Litter Pick at the Wildlife Area

The Wildlife Area is Clean ūüôā

Yet again, disgusting levels of litter at the Wildlife Area and balancing pond

What is wrong with people?

Litter ūüė¶

Successful litter pick

We hope to share our 2017 activity plan for the rest of the year very soon.

 

 

Litter Pick at the Wildlife Area

Poster created by OPCC

Poster created by Orchard Park Community Council

Join us on 17 February at 10:00‚Äď14:00 to tidy up the Wildlife Area, Ring Fort Road, near the sports ground. As OPWP has informed on many occasions (see links below), litter is very dangerous to our wildlife. Please come along, even if you can spare just ten minutes, every single can/bag/bottle that is removed is helpful to our local wildlife. Being in the Wildlife Area, volunteering, and gentle exercise is good¬†for you too ūüôā We hope to see you there.

Yet again, disgusting levels of litter at the Wildlife Area and balancing pond

Litter ūüė¶

Successful litter pick

Litter at the Wildlife Area

 

A final word

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Due to unplanned but necessary travel in December, unfortunately the activity we had planned didn’t happen. Many thanks indeed to all we collaborated with in 2016 to put events on, to Lush and Inder’s Kitchen for funding us, to OP Community Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council for their support, and to everyone who came to events and took action to help wildlife. We will be drafting our activity plan for 2017 early next year, we are looking at forging new links with existing groups. Having heard him speak in the Summer in the university building named after him, I’ll leave the last word of 2016 to David Attenborough ……

OPWP has ID’d OP’s Apples

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Photo credit: Kate Parsley

Many thanks to Kate from OPWP for going to Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s Apple Day today to identify the variety of apples in Orchard Park. We now know around OP we have the Ribston Pippin and the Spartan, both eating apples. We hope you’ll join us at our event on 29th October 1-4pm with Kettle’s Yard, and Inder’s Kitchen to celebrate our Orchard and its wildlife. Juicing, chutney making, and OP’s Orchard Wildlife, free, fun, informative and accessible. For details see:¬†Next event at the Orchard ‚Äď Saturday 29 October 2016 1-4pm

According to the Trees of Antiquity website:

Ribston Pippin originated in Yorkshire, England, around 1700 as a dessert apple, and was grown from three apple pips (seeds) sent from Normandy to Sir Henry Goodricke of Ribston Hall at Knaresborough, in Yorkshire, in 1709. Only one seed germinated and matured. The original tree was blown down in 1810, but was propped up and lived until 1928. This is a highly esteemed Victorian dessert apple. Ribston Pippin is also referred to as the Glory of York. Juicy, firm deep cream-colored flesh has an intense, rich, aromatic apple flavor, along with an intense sharpness. Skin striped red over greenish-yellow, with russet patches. Parent of the famous Cox’s Orange Pippin. Consider Grimes Golden, Liberty and/or White Pearmain for pollination. Triploid.”

The provenance of the Spartan is less well understood. The Garden Action website says:

“This variety was purpose bred in Canada for commercial use. Remarkably even though the apples were bred under controlled conditions, the parentage is not known. Originally the apple was thought to be cross between McIntosh and Newton. Now however, genetic testing has proved that Newton was not one of the parents. McIntosh, yes, Newton definitely not!….

The apple flesh is white and crispy with lots of juice if eaten straight off the tree.”