Our next event will be in the Orchard, behind the sports ground on Ring Fort Rd (see map) on Saturday 29th October 2016 1-4pm. We’ll be working with artists from Kettle’s Yard to explore our place and wildlife.
Create your own ceramic signs which celebrate the amazing variety of apples growing Orchard Park. The signs and labels will be left in the Orchard area permanently to help visitor identify the apples growing and find out about them. They will also form part of You Are Here, a new map of North Cambridge being created by Open House artist in residence, Isabella Martin.
More details will follow soon.
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.
Given that we’re supposed to be hitting the high twenties in Centigrade this week, and it felt particularly humid when I opened the doors and windows today, I thought I’d put a few tips on the blog about how to help birds and other wildlife during particularly warm spells.
I took this photo of a Dunnock through my window an hour or two ago. I saw Collared Doves on the fence adopting similar positions earlier this morning. They were spreading their feathers and panting.
Birds don’t have sweat glands like us, so they use other behavioural adaptations to keep cool such as (taken with thanks directly from the about birds website):
- Panting: Just like dogs, wild birds will open their bills and pant to help dissipate heat on a hot day. As they get hotter, their panting may increase in speed or they may open their bills even further for greater cooling.
- Activity Level: Birds will adapt their daily activities to suit the climate. On a very hot day or in warmer climates, birds are less active during the hottest hours and more active when the sun is lower and the air cooler.
- Seeking Shade: More birds can be found in shady areas during the hottest times of the year, particularly near water sources and low to the ground. The more layers of branches and leaves above the ground, the more heat will be absorbed and the cooler the shade will be.
- Soaring: Birds of prey often soar at higher altitudes on the hottest days. While this does not get them out of the sun, the air temperatures are much colder at great altitude, which keeps the bird cooler.
- Bathing: Many backyard birds and songbird species will bathe in hot weather to cool their bodies with water. They may simple walk through the water or shake it over their bodies with head twists and wing flutters. Waterfowl will frequently dive beneath the surface to get thoroughly wet in the heat.
- Spreading Feathers: When a cool breeze provides some relief from the heat, birds may puff out their feathers or flutter their wings to let the circulating air reach their hot skin. They may also hold their wings away from their bodies to lower their body temperature.
- Less Solar Radiation: Birds with lighter colored plumage may turn their lightest parts toward the sun on a hot day so more heat is reflected away from their bodies.
- Breeding Range: Many birds migrate with relation to their preferred climates, and when the weather is warming up they will seek cooler locations at northern latitudes. Similarly, birds in mountainous regions may head for higher, cooler altitudes, while birds in lowlands retreat into deeper shady, sheltered areas.
How to help
The main thing you can do is to provide a bird bath filled with clean, fresh water for birds to drink and bathe. A 4-5 cm basin is best to accommodate small bathing birds. On the hottest days like today, shallow water may evaporate quickly, so check your bath regularly to keep it filled. Clean fresh water will also help creatures like hedgehogs.
Adding some plants to provide shade in the garden can also help. Also by providing good food, you can minimise efforts required by birds to obtain their nutritional requirements thereby reducing activities and helping to keep them cooler.
Sadly due to the imminent development of the site where the lizards are, we are unable to continue monitoring them as planned for August. We hope to be able to resume monitoring next year over at the balancing pond where at least part of the population are likely to be translocated to…
For September/October activities we are excited to be collaborating with North Cambridge resident artist Isabella Martin. We thank Karen Thomas of Kettle’s Yard for putting us in touch. We are planning to run an event over at the Orchard when the apples ripen where we’ll explore the Orchard habitat and creatively contribute to signage for the area. We hope to collaborate further to map Orchard Park’s habitats and species in an interactive and novel way – more info to come 🙂
From the Kettle’s Yard website:
“YOU ARE HERE – Isabella Martin Artist in Residence 2016
Open House Artist-in-Residence, Isabella Martin, is working with local residents to explore the area and create a new map together in a project called You Are Here. Isabella will work with local groups to share stories and knowledge and develop creative skills to turn these stories into artworks. The artworks will be part of the alternative neighbourhood map. The map will show and celebrate what is unique about North Cambridge. You will find Isabella and her team of artists out and about, running art activities and collecting stories and thoughts about the neighbourhood. You Are Here has been inspired by Kettle’s Yard, celebrating all the individual and unique things which make a place special.
Isabella Martin is an artist who works with different materials to make work that interacts with specifc places and the stories they tell. Using drawing, performance, writing and sculpture, Isabella creates inventive, playful, outdoor artworks in collaboration with people to explore our relationship to the landscape in which we live.”
Lush Cambridge are also very kindly holding another Charity Pot Party fundraising event for us in late October. We’re very grateful to Lush for their ongoing support. We’ll be encouraging people to take part in this year’s Wild About Gardens Week – this year it focusses on bats. Apt, as a Lush Charity Pot Party funded our bat detector which we’ve used over at the Wildlife Area and around Orchard Park ^v^
Dates for events are being confirmed and will be announced soon.
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 🙂
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.
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
Alongside the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Day Wild initiative, BBC’s Springwatch has their own #DoSomethingGreat campaign. Why not have a look at some of their activities, many of which are free and can be done with stuff you’ll have around the home. There are lots of great ideas to keep the kids occupied in the upcoming summer holiday season.
Orchard Park Wildlife Project has bat detecting coming up on Friday 24th June, (due to poor weather on the 24th, this 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) and our Summer Safari on Sunday 17th July (more about this soon) – you can learn how to #DoSomethingGreat for our local wildlife if you come along to these events 🙂
From the Springwatch website:
This spring the BBC wants volunteers to join its Do Something Great campaign. Here at Springwatch, we want YOU to go out there and help nature and our wonderful wildlife! From litter picking and beach cleans to planting trees and restoring reed beds, there’s something for everyone. Take a look at the events listed below to find one near you, and tell us all about it! Use #Springwatch and #DoSomethingGreat on Facebook and Twitter. And we want to see your volunteering photos and videos, we’ll be sharing ours! It’s never been easer to get out there and Do Something Great!
30 Days Wild is an initiative by the Wildlife Trusts that encourages everyone to do a Random Acts of Wildness every day of June.
From the Wildlife Trust Website:
Feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day for thirty days this June. No matter where you live – from an urban jungle to a windswept mountain – wildlife and wild places are all around, waiting to be discovered by you. Sign up to receive your inspirational pack, containing Random Acts of Wildness cards – bitesize bits of wild inspiration, a beautiful badge and funky stickers to accompany a gorgeous wallchart. We don’t want you to give anything up this June. You don’t have to bake, grow a moustache or dress in funny clothes (although you can if you want, of course). We just want you to give yourself time in the wild: time for you, time your family, time to reconnect with nature.
Share your Random Acts of Wildness on Facebook and Twitter using the Wildlife Trust’s #StayWild and our #OPwild. We look forward to hearing what you’ve done. We’ll post suggestions for Random Acts of Wildness on Facebook and Twitter throughout June.
Here are a few ideas to get you started: create artwork in the wild, have lunch in the wild (ok maybe not on this soggy Wednesday), do a local litter pick, hang bird feeders at work, mark a patch of lawn and let it grow wild. For the 24th June, don’t forget our Bat Detecting Evening in Orchard Park, click the link for more details (due to poor weather on the 24th, this 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).
You can sign up for your free pack from the Wildlife Trusts here
Common 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.