It’s been a strange time these last few months. The media suggests many more people have been taking an interest in their local wildlife given the extra time spent at home. I sincerely hope this interest is maintained and translates into action to help our wildlife and habitats.
There’s been a bit of action in a small OP garden, centred around a little bowl of water. I called the video ‘Just Add Water’ to show what can be attracted with very little effort – it shows how important such a seemingly simple action can be to our local wildlife.
The Wildflower Bank was looking very colourful a couple of weeks ago too. If you haven’t had a look at the bank yet, maybe stop and take in the variety of plants there and the invertebrates it attracts. Don’t forget to check the sign near the school entrance to help you with plant ID and some of the invertebrates we’ve recorded there.
Here’s a video showing the length of the bank. A few flowering plants have been labelled. Stop the video when you see the label to see if you can ID the plants mentioned.
On Saturday, thanks to On the Verge Cambridge and Orchard Park Community Council, native bluebells were planted in the Wildlife Area. On the Verge, who kindly provided the plants free of charge, is a voluntary group set up to promote wildflowers and pollinating plants around Cambridge. They aim to “provide an abundance of food sources for pollinating insects which are in catastrophic decline. By providing joined-up corridors of food for pollinators we can help them feed without having to fly long distances. We can make the city of Cambridge welcoming to pollinators through simply planting what they need. Increasing plant biodiversity in our city can have a positive impact on the insect population immediately.” (Source: On The Verge Website).
Thanks very much to Andrew Chan, Chair of OPCC for planting them, obviously we were unable to do this as a group activity in the current circumstances.
The Woodland Trust say “enchanting and iconic, bluebells are a favourite with the fairies and a sure sign spring is in full swing.
Value to wildlife
Many insects reap the benefits of bluebells which flower earlier than many other plants. Woodland butterflies, bees and hoverflies all feed on their nectar. Bees can ‘steal’ the nectar from bluebells by biting a hole in the bottom of the flower, reaching the nectar without the need to pollinate the flower.
Bluebells are unmistakable bell-shaped perennial herbs. They actually spend the majority of their time underground as bulbs, emerging, often in droves, to flower from April onwards.
Leaves: are narrow, around 7mm to 25mm wide and 45cm in length. They are strap-shaped, smooth and hairless, with a pointed tip.
Flowers: usually deep violet-blue in colour, bluebells are bell-shaped with six petals and up-turned tips. These sweet-smelling flowers nod or droop to one side of the flowering stem (known as an inflorescence) and have creamy white-coloured pollen inside. Some bluebell flowers can be white or pink. Up to 20 flowers can grow on one inflorescence.
Not to be confused with: Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), which is very similar in appearance to the British bluebell. However, Spanish bluebells grow upright, with the flowers all around the stem, not drooping to one side like the British bluebell. Hybrid bluebell (Hyacinthoides x massartiana) is a mix of the British and Spanish bluebell. It is often very similar in appearance to our native bluebell, but might threaten its existence by out-competing it and diluting the gene pool.” (source information above was taken directly from the Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) page at The Woodland Trust).
The Cowslips are coming out too, they’re quite prolific on the bank closest the Premier Inn. They’ll be out on the Wildflower Bank outside the school soon, along with the rest of the flowers. For more information on Cowslips click here.
It’s a difficult time for all at the moment, but if there’s any consolation it’s that we’re going into it in spring. I hope people will use it as an opportunity to watch wildlife – it’s good distraction, proven to be good for your wellbeing and could create a greater sense of nature connectedness, which in turn might increase actions people take to help wildlife.
We will reschedule once the Coronoavirus has passed its peak
What, well there’s all sorts, something for everyone, all ages and abilities welcome, the event will be held at an accessible ♿️ venue:
😀 Meet your neighbours 🧁 Eat nice food ☕️ Have a cuppa 🛹 Skate lesson with Shredder – Contact Max to book your session at: email@example.com (help with the litter pick and/or tree planting to qualify for your free lesson) 🚯 Litter pick 🌲 Plant a tree 🎨 Create art about our Orchard 🏍 Learn about Orchard Park’s Shared Electric Trike 🎥 Watch films about our local wildlife and how to help 🦔 Make a pledge to help our community and wildlife
When: Sunday 5 April 10-4
Cost: FREE £0.00
Where: Meet at Orchard Park Community Multi Function Room CB4 2GW, next to Orchard Park Skate Park and Wildlife Area – see map below
Help us cleanup Orchard Park, and plant a fruit tree or two in return for a free lesson with Max from Shredder Skate School, who strive to bring the joys of skateboarding and stunt scootering to anyone that wishes to start. Contact Max to book your session at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll be creating art to make a sign for the Orchard, showing the importance of orchards for wildlife “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.”
🦠Coronoavirus – If you’re feeling unwell and experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus – a cough, a high temperature, shortness of breath – please do not attend the event, stay at home and seek medical advice by calling the 111 coronavirus service. Facilities for hand washing – the Government’s focus to control the disease – are available at the Multi Use Room. Look out for the latest NHS advice. Of course if the latest advice suggests public events should be cancelled, we’ll postpone our event and reschedule.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 repairplease email: email@example.com
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 🦔
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.
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.
Photos from Cambridge’s green projects visited by the Big Lunch Community Walk
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.
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.
Thank you so much to Eden Project Communities walkers and the support team for coming to visit Orchard Park last week. We enjoyed showing you our wildlife habitats and what we do, and chatting with you and folks from our local community whilst tucking into tasty tea and cake. Cambridge put on great weather for you 🙂
We hope you enjoyed the whole walk and each had a well earned great day at your respective local #TheBigLunch 🙂
A great big thank you too to: Orchard Park Community Council for hosting the event, and to OPCC Chair, Andrew Chan, for providing the lovely cakes and accompanying the walkers through Cambridge and onto Empty Common Community Garden (near Cambridge University Botanic Gardens) and Margaret Wright Community Orchard (off Newmarket Road near Coldhams Common) for a tea party potlock, to the residents of Marmalade Lane who showed us real community spirit, and to Andy Pugh for helping with everything from start to finish.
Instead of the 5 minutes as instructed by Cambridge Natural History Society’s citizen science instructions, I’d set my recorder to go for an hour…. Bob Jarman of CNHS was willing to listen to identify the birds he heard, and patiently listened through the hour long recording twice. I found it very relaxing listening to the birds add to the song in the early hours. A shame about the rain, and racing cars, and road noise. After about 15 minutes many more birds join in. You could just be surprised though, you might get an hour of calm if you listen, as Bob did, twice.
Thank you very much indeed Bob for identifying them for us. These are the birds he heard:
Dunnock: 1 briefly towards end
Song Thrush: 1 briefly and distant towards end.
In last 10+ minutes a knocking I couldn’t identify – could be bird tapping on feeder but don’t think it’s vocal.
It’s Fledgeling Time Again
So far I’ve seen young Blue Tits, Great Tits, and Starlings coming to feed.
See these blog posts for more information on their wing fluttering behaviour, what to do if you’ve seen a fledgling you’re concerned about, and what to feed them. Don’t forget to break peanuts up to make them smaller and suitable for young birds before you put them out.
The following information has been adapted from the Eden Project Communities Network website and the Eden Project Communities Blog.
Join The Big Lunch Community Walk 2019 in Cambridge! #TheBigLunch
The Big Lunch community walk is just around the corner and the Eden Project Communities folks can’t wait to announce their amazing walkers this year.
From 17 May, four teams (one from each nation) will step out on four routes to shine a light on people who bring their communities closer together. They’re walking up an appetite for The Big Lunch and inviting everyone to join in on the Big Lunch during the first weekend in June.
Orchard Park Wildlife Project was very lucky to be able to go to an Eden Project Communities Camp a couple of years ago. We joined the folks from the 2017 Great Big Walk at the end of their day at in the south of Cambridge at Nightingale Gardens, and since then we’ve enjoyed and learned at a workshop at Birmingham Botanic Gardens, and during online workshops. Thank you so much Eden Project Communities for your support 😀🙏
Join in the Walk at Orchard Park
When: Thursday 30 May at 11.00am
Where: Multi Use Room at the Sports Ground on Ring Fort Road
The walkers will be reaching Cambridge on Thursday 30 May, and they’re going to visit Orchard Park at 11.00!Do join us. Orchard Park Wildlife Project and Orchard Park Community Council will welcome them at the Multi Use Room at the Sports Ground on Ring Fort Road and show them some of our wildlife habitats, and activities we’re doing to help make Orchard Park better for people and wildlife. We’ll provide drinks and Andrew Chan, Chair of Orchard Park Community Council will be making some of his delicious cakes.
They’re moving onto Empty Commons Community Garden (near Cambridge University Botanic Gardens) to be there for around 1pm and then walking from there to the Margaret Wright Community Orchard (off Newmarket Road near Coldhams Common) for a tea party potlock between 4-6pm. The idea is to connect our green projects and our communities, and people are welcomed and encouraged to join in on the walk through Cambridge. You can join us just at Orchard Park, walk throughout the day, or for a little of the day. It’s up to you how long you stay, but we hope you will join us.
Jo Brand, presiding over the opening ceremony for the walk last year, said “Last year there were so many negative things going on in the world, it was nice for three weeks to be able to shine a light on the incredibly determined walkers and the diverse communities all over the UK coming together to welcome them passing through. I urge anyone to consider stepping up for the challenge this year…if nothing else it’s the perfect excuse to eat cake all day as you potter along!”.
Over two weeks, the walkers will journey across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and will walk home just in time to bring out the chairs and hang the bunting for their own Big Lunch – that’s what they call dedication!
Every day on their travels, the walkers will be connecting people and communities across the UK and finding out how they are preparing for our biggest weekend of the year. Their teams will be reaching out to people along the way, spreading the word about The Big Lunch and encouraging everyone to join in, share food and have fun where they live.