Summer Safari 2017

Many thanks indeed again to Peter Pilbeam, Pat and Alan of Cambridgeshire Mammal Group for setting the traps around Orchard Park, and to Tim and Carol Inskipp for identifying everything we came across.

Many thanks too to everyone who came along. We hope you enjoyed it.

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Some of the people at the Summer Safari as we explored the edge of the grassland

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Traps set and ready to distribute

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Cambridgeshire Mammal Group members setting the traps

Bank Vole Myodes glareolus

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Birds:

Common Swift Apus apus

Feral Pigeon Columba livia

Magpie Pica pica

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

puffed up starling

Starling

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

good goldfinch

Goldfinch

Bumblebees:

Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum

Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum

Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius

White/Buff-tailed Bumblebee (not possible to separate these species at this time of year, except for Queens)

Moths:

Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella

Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata

Eggar sp. Lasiocampa sp.

Butterflies:

Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus

Beetles:

Common Red Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha fulva

7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata

Other insects:

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Roesel’s bushcricket Metrioptera roeselii

Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus

Southern Hawker dragonfly Aeshna cyanea

Other invertebrates

Brown-lipped Snail Cepaea nemoralis

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Web Nursery Spider Pisauris mirabilis

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Black Ant sp.

Walnut Leaf Gall Aceria erinea

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Lime Nail Gall Eriophyes liliae

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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 – 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.”

 

State of Nature 2016

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Goldfinch Orchard Park garden. Thankfully a bird with an increasing population according to BTO reports.

The report and findings

The first State of Nature report released in 2013 revealed the severe loss of nature that has occurred in the UK since the 1960s. Last week, the 2016 follow on report was released (see: State of Nature 2016 full report pdf).

Amongst other headlines, this one stood out as a point that is perhaps surprising to some – often declines in wildlife are thought of as happening overseas, not on our doorstep:

A new measure that assesses how intact a country’s biodiversity is, suggests that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average. The index suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

7% of urban species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain.” (State of Nature 2016 p.40).

The causes for such decline include policy-driven agricultural change as by far the most significant driver, and climate change as one of the greatest long-term threats to nature globally. Other factors driving decline such as loss of green space including parks, allotments and gardens, and loss of habitats such as wildlife rich brownfield sites to development, are things that we can witness right here in Orchard Park. Many gardens here are paved over with little to help wildlife, we have no allotments, the sports field seems sterile, the Wildlife Area seems tiny, whilst the remaining established, large grassland site which is rich in invertebrates, birds, and lizards, is due for commercial development.

Why is this important?

We have a moral obligation to save nature and this is a view shared by the millions of supporters of conservation organisations across the UK. Not only that, we must save nature for our own sake, as it provides us with essential and irreplaceable benefits that support our welfare and livelihoods.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

Two recent research projects have now built on … methodology to understand children’s connection to nature in more detail…children who are more connected to nature rate their health and well-being as significantly higher.” (State of Nature 2016 p.67).

What can we do?

 Whilst as individuals and families we might feel powerless to do anything about, for example, farming practices, we can be effective at a local level.

…organisations, businesses, communities and individuals have worked together to bring nature back…We are fortunate that the UK has thousands of dedicated and expert volunteers recording wildlife. It is largely thanks to their efforts, and the role of the organisations supporting them, that we are able to chart how our nature is faring.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

Taken collectively, there is increasing evidence that citizen science is playing a central role in recruiting and training the next generation of nature enthusiasts; communicating the beauty and relevance of the UK’s wildlife to wide sectors of UK society; and catalysing positive attitudes and behaviours towards nature. In the face of growing concerns about a decline in taxonomic expertise and a disconnect from nature amongst the UK’s population, this involvement in citizen science gives real cause for optimism.” (State of Nature 2016 p.69).

Orchard Park Wildlife Project sends its species records to Cambridge and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre to add to their regional assessments of our wildlife. You can help by joining in our Summer Safaris and being a Citizen Scientist – reporting bee, butterfly and bird sightings using links to campaigns promoted via the Orchard Park Wildlife Project blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed and letting us know about anything unusual that you see.

You can do your bit in your garden/balcony/window box by creating a pond, feeding the birds, building a log pile and adding wildlife friendly plants.

You can help keep the Wildlife Area tidy, manage our Wildflower Bank, help at the Orchard, or keep basking sites clear for reptiles at the Balancing Pond.

Every little helps. See: Wildlife Trust page for more ideas.

We hope some of our upcoming activities will tempt you to come along and inspire you to do your bit for your nature if we’ve not managed to reach you already. We’re working on an approach to an event for information at the Orchard with local resident artists, which we hope will attract new people – more about that soon. I’m attending a Network for Nature event on Saturday, it’s at the David Attenborough Building in Downing St which houses Cambridge Conservation Initiative (focussing on international conservation) and Cambridge Conservation Forum (focussing on local conservation, Orchard Park Wildlife Project is a member). The closing speech is scheduled to be given by the building’s namesake himself, and I hope and expect that he will be very inspiring indeed.

Happier Apple Trees and more basking sites at the Balancing Pond

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Orchard Bob explaining how and where to cut

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Dan from HICOP begins pruning

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Dan from HICOP removes crossing branches, Kate pruning adjacent to path

Yesterday we had our session learning from the very knowledgeable and helpful Orchard Bob. We were shown how to prune and care for our apple trees and we now feel we know enough to take on their management confidently in future.

Bob provided a report with recommendations for the future, so we have a clear plan to work to.

Dan from Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project (HICOP) joined us to brush up on his skills, and we hope to collaborate with HICOP for future events.

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A clean small cut beyond the growth rings should help the tree to heal after pruning

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This is what a well pruned tree looks like

As well as pruning the trees so that they grow into the right shape, we also removed rubber straps which were no longer needed and in some cases were causing problems for the trees.

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Canker (a fungal infection) starting where the rubber strap had damaged the tree. It should heal now the strap has been removed

We were able to do a bit of tree guard recycling to add guards to the apple trees to further protect them from strimmer damage, when the wildflowers and grass around them are cut.

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Recycled guard to protect against strimmer damage

It was great to look back at the Orchard and see the trees looking like they were being well cared for. Lichens have already colonised the trees, and hopefully the area will be really good for wildlife in a few years time.

All cuttings were put in piles in the Wildlife Area to provide habitat for invertebrates.

We also removed seedlings from the Balancing Pond area to reduce scrub vegetation there, opening up basking sites for reptiles and invertebrates.

With many thanks to Bob and Dan, we enjoyed working with you 🙂

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!

 

 

Woodland Trust Trees Planted

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gini and co

Thanks to everyone who helped plant the trees near the busway at Pagram Way. We filled gaps in the hedge in an effort to enhance this habitat and increase the diversity of creatures that can use it. Hilary from the Cambridge Mammal Group informed us of the importance of gapless, dense hedges for invertebrates. A dead wood pile under the hedge was left for invertebrates. For more information on hedge wildlife see: http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/wildlife-and-hedgerows.htm

Twig spotting

We have several of these tree species in Orchard Park. Now the leaves have gone, why not try to identify them by their twigs… If we’re lucky with the application to the Woodland Trust for a hedge pack, we’re planning an activity in March to fill gaps in hedges around Orchard Park. See future blog and Facebook posts for more information.

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National Tree Week

29 November to 7 December is National Tree Week. Although OP Wildlife Project has not planned any planting activities for this week, we did plant trees in the Wildlife Area in November last year.

Identifying some of the plants.

Identifying some of the plants.

In March though, if our application to the Woodland Trust for a hedge tree pack is successful, and if we get the necessary permission to plant, we hope you’ll join us in planting to fill the gaps in the hedges around OP.

The Woodland Trust has created a guide to identifying our native British trees, and their importance to wildlife. Take a look at:

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/learn/british-trees/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=wt_general_november2014

Leaf bingo (free ‘nature detectives’ download from the Woodland Trust)

Leaf bingo (free ‘nature detectives’ download from the Woodland Trust).

 

How many different leaves can you
spot in nature?

Green, flat, long, small, spiky, curled,
lobed, yellow, large, nibbled, oval, brown

Print the game card, head outside
and play leaf bingo!

Just click on the orange link above.

Thanks to the Woodland Trust, extra saplings planted. Click on link below for video….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqJyQRc7a3I

Newly planted sapling

Newly planted sapling

The local beavers and cubs came out on Friday for tree planting at the Wildlife Area. Although it was raining it didn’t put them off and they each planted a few saplings. The saplings will fill gaps where previous plants didn’t take, and add to the hedge. They’re in an area protected from rabbits, and should grow well. I’ll take some photos to post on the next dry day. I also used a waterproof camera to film some of the activities – I’ll check the footage as it was dark, and make a short film if it’s possible to see what’s going on! Thanks to Rob Mungovan, the SCDC Ecology Officer, for receiving and delivering the trees, and for providing instruction on how to plant them.