For more information see: Orchard Park’s Third Summer Safari Sunday 9 July 5.30-7.30pm
For more information see: Orchard Park’s Third Summer Safari Sunday 9 July 5.30-7.30pm
Last Thursday Andrew Chan from Orchard Park Community Council showed members of the Youth Group how to set up self watering pots to sow seeds. Sunflowers, and wildflowers for pollinators were planted, along with cucumber and sweetcorn for people.
Once the seeds are sprouting, they’ll be moved to the new raised beds which will be installed at the Orchard Community Centre soon. We hope lots of locals will get involved with tending the beds which will grow flowers and food plants. We’ve had funding kindly donated for the beds by the Orchard Park Community Council, tools we need to look after them by Education Services 2010 and Young People’s Workers from the Council are leading the activities.
Over the summer we will be doing a series of sessions to create a home for pollinators, and to make and plant the raised beds. We’d really like you to join us if you’re aged between 10 and 17 years old at the following sessions at the Orchard Community Centre:
Monday 31st July from 2pm to 4pm – Making a Bug Hotel
Thursday 17th August from 3.30pm to 5pm – creating and painting the beds
Thursday 24th August from 3.30pm to 5pm – creating and planting the beds
In the meantime for folks of any age, do get in touch if you’d like to help, learn, or have gardening knowledge to share 🙂
Bees and butterflies are declining due to habitat loss amongst other reasons, so it is important to do whatever we can to help. Click the link below to see a video on pollinators by Butterfly Conservation Plant Pots for Pollinators Video from Butterfly Conservation.
Using things like yoghurt pots is great way to repurpose, and these self watering planters provide everything the seeds need to get going. Coir dehydrated compost disks were rehydrated, a wick made from kitchen cloth was threaded through the holes in the small plant pot, and a few centimetres of water put in the bottom of the yoghurt pot – the kitchen cloth pulls the water into the pot to water the seedling. Coir dehydrated compost is an environmentally friendly choice because it is peat free (see why go peat free) for more info on coir see: Eden Communities Gardening
Last night around 30 people, mainly from Nightingale Volunteer Gardeners, assembled to meet and greet the team doing the Eden Project’s #GreatBigWalk. The walkers are winding their way through the UK heading home and working up an appetite in time for the #GreatBigLunch. Eden Communities aims to “connect people and communities, encouraging everyday people to make positive change where they live.” There certainly was a lot of good community spirit, as well as delicious home made food, in the amazing garden, not far from Addenbrookes @CB1 8SQ, last night. I’m sure Orchard Park Wildlife Project ‘up north’ can learn a thing or two about as we embark with our Community Council on our raised beds and community gardening journey. Nightingale Garden has a wildlife pond, lots of lovely wildflowers as well as food plants.
Nightingale Volunteer Gardeners are a “community gardening group for RHS-affiliated Queen Edith’s in Bloom”. Anyone ‘down south’ wishing to join them, or willing to travel down south, they meet Sunday and Monday afternoons 2-4, with ‘Gardeners tea at 3’, you can go along for however long you like. For information see: www.nightingalegarden.org.uk or contact Rebecca (volunteer) 07792 531 400.
We had a great time on Saturday afternoon with Kettle’s Yard celebrating our orchard and its wildlife. Our tiny ‘Spartan’ apples are very cute. If we feed the trees and ensure they’re looked after properly we may be rewarded with larger crops in the future. Many thanks to Kate, Scott, Giovanna, and two Andrews for between them buying, washing, chopping, macerating and pressing apples, so we could appreciate fresh juice, and dealing with all the tidying up! Thanks are also due to Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project for lending us their equipment.
Many children enjoyed decorating tiles, with Karen Thomas from Kettle’s Yard and artist Rosanna Martin, to depict some of the 200 different types of animals and plants we’ve identified so far in the orchard and around Orchard Park. They will be fired and placed around Orchard Park as part of artist Isabella Martin’s ‘You Are Here’ project whilst she is artist in residence for North Cambridge. Thanks for letting us look at our wildlife through an artistic lens, and we look forward to the next phase 🙂
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.
OPWP has a busy weekend coming up. We’ll be at the Orchard Park Summer Fiesta tomorrow, Saturday 16th July 2016 from 2.00pm – 5.00pm at the Sports Ground, come along and say hello. There’ll be another opportunity to play wildlife bingo – look for our local wildlife and let us know what you see – for your chance to win a filled bird seed feeder. Bring a print out of the wildlife bingo card if you can, if not, we’ll have a limited number of printed cards. You can also make a recycled plant pot and plant some wild flower seeds, as well as decorating dishes for birds and bees to drink from, or do some wildlife colouring.
On Sunday 17th July we’ll be at the first ever Wild South Cambs Zone at Milton Country Park’s Parklife. Don’t forget today is the final chance for you to enter the Wild South Cambs Young Photographer of the Year Competition. Click here for ideas on photographing Orchard Park’s wildlife. As well as wildlife activities for children, we’ll be promoting Butterfly Conservation‘s Big Butterfly Count on Sunday – everyone who takes part will be in with a chance of winning a butterfly feeder. You can download the app for android here, or iOS here. We will also have a limited number of spotter sheets printed out for you to use if you don’t have access to the app and/or a computer. The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment. Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather – let’s hope the sun shines at the Country Park on Sunday. Click here to watch a video about the Big Butterfly Count.
On Sunday evening we’re having our second Orchard Park Summer Safari. You’ll be surprised to see what lives here if you look. Meet at the Travelodge Hotel, Chieftain Way, CB4 2WR at 7.30pm.
If you can’t make any of the events, you can still join in and have a wild time by taking part in the Big Butterfly Count – just do your 15 minute count on a day you choose from today (15th July) to 7th August – do let us know what you see, we look forward to hearing from you 🙂
Free, fun, helpful, healthy, accessible and informative – we hope you’ll join us for our Orchard Park Summer Safari in the evening of Sunday 17 July. Meet outside the Travelodge Hotel, Chieftain Way (click for map), at 7.30pm. You’re welcome to join us for as long or little as you like.
It’s an opportunity to have a closer look at the wildlife on your doorstep, learn about it, and what you can do to help. You’ll be surprised to see what lives here when you look… especially when guided by very knowledgeable naturalists – we are grateful to Tim and Carol Inskipp who will be providing their expertise again to help us identify the animals and plants we come across. We’ll have a look around the perimeter of where the lizards currently live in Orchard Park, this area is rich in invertebrates – which the lizards eat. We hope someone from Cambridge and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group will join us. The area also has mature trees nearby, the only ones within Orchard Park, and they’re a microhabitat in themselves. We’ll see where the wildlife takes us before looking at the wildflower area on Ring Fort Road, the orchard and meadow, and then at dusk we’ll head over to Wildlife Area to have a look for bats with our detector (we thank #lushcambridge @lushcambridge for their Charity Pot event providing funds for our detector).
Orchard Park Wildlife Project will send any new wildlife records to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre, the Summer Safari is like a micro sized and laid back bioblitz, where we find and identify as many plants and animals as we can, but stopping to look and explore as we find wildlife to look at.
As well as being good for wildlife, activities such as the Summer Safari are proven to be good for you too: “..a body of restorative literature focuses on the potential benefits to emotional recovery from stress offered by green space and ‘soft fascination'” according to Aspinall et al 2015. For more information from the scientific paper click the lead author’s name link above. If you’d like to see more in a popular science format, then have a look at this article: Science proves what we all know: Nature is Good for your Health!
This is a free and accessible event suitable for all ages and abilities.
To see a blog post about what we found to look at during our Summer Safari last year click: Summer Safari Summary
A little later than planned, here is the Draft Activity Plan for Orchard Park Wildlife Project for 2016. We have set dates and some times for activities coming up in the next few months. All activities are based on the recommendations in the Orchard Park Habitats Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust for Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. There is scope to add or change activities, and we hope to build on the helpful collaborations leading to enjoyable events this last year or two. All activities are subject to appropriate approval and sourcing appropriate expertise and equipment. Times and dates may be subject to change, so, please keep an eye on the Orchard Park Wildlife and other Facebook groups, as well as here on the blog and Twitter where final details will be confirmed closer to the date.
We hope there is something for everyone. You’re always welcome to join us for a little or long as you are able whilst we try to help the wildlife on our doorstep from the bees, butterflies and moths, to the hedgehogs, herps and bats.
There are also many national wildlife campaigns taking place again this year:
to name but a few…. We’ll let you know as new dates are released so that you have the information you need to contribute to local and national wildlife conservation efforts through citizen science.
If there is an activity that you’d like to do but don’t see, then please get in touch, we’d like to hear from you.
Looking forward to doing our bit again for the wildlife of Orchard Park 🙂
It’s not too late if you want to take part in the Great British Bee Count
From Friends of the Earth: “Insects play a vital role in keeping our ecosystems healthy. Amongst other things, they break down organic matter and enrich our soil, and provide food for larger animals in the food chain.
Bees – and other pollinating insects – are also essential in pollinating all sorts of plants, including many of our food crops. Their numbers have declined drastically in the last 60 years, and The Bee Cause campaign has highlighted how we can help them.”
Click on the link below to find out some amazing insect facts, and to join the bee count:
Take a look at this 6 minute video by Chris Packham. See what a difference we could make in Orchard Park.
Click the link below for the video: