Spooktacular Batty, Creepy Crawly Disco

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OPWP will be there with info on our big black birds 🦅, creepy crawlies 🦎🦗🐜, spiders 🕷, bats 🦇 and witches 🧙‍♀️ knickers!

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What OP’s Cat Owners Can do to Help our Wildlife

Cats and bats credit Amazon dot com

Credit: Amazon.com

Taken directly from page 118 of The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife by Chris Packham et al. concerning cats and wildlife:

“According to research our cats kill 55 million songbirds every year in the UK and predate a total of 220 million other animals, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects.Given the great pressures this wildlife is under elsewhere these losses are almost certainly now significant.

It’s not the cat’s fault! And there are easy steps to take to reduce this toll.

We must ask cat owners to take responsibility, and here’s how…

  • Keep cats in at night – this can reduce overall predation by up to 50%. Unless you plan to breed your pets, have them neutered.
  • Ideally all free-roaming cats should be fitted with a collar and bell. This can reduce bird predation by 50%.2,3 That’s 27 million more birds in our gardens every year.”

Orchard Park Wildlife Project has recorded 27 species of birds in OP, and we also have Viviparous Lizards (Zootoca vivipara). Any of these could be negatively affected by cats.

When studying in NZ ten years ago, and co producing a blog on the wildlife of Dunedin’s Town Belt, Jill and I met with Yolanda Van Heezik, author of one of papers cited above, several times. Jill wrote a couple of blog posts about Yolanda’s research on the cat predation in NZ: More from “Project C.A.T.” (C.A.T. stands for Cats Around Town) and Where does Fluffy go? but the findings are just as relevant here.

Cats and Bats

As well as many birds, and lizards, we also have Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) bats, and quite possibly Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), foraging in Orchard Park. Cats are one of the most common causes of bat casualties.

From the Bat Conservation Trust

“Bats do have other natural predators (such as birds of prey) but cats, particularly, will learn the location of the bat roost and catch bats as they emerge.

If a bat has been caught by a cat it will almost certainly be injured.  Even if you cannot see any obvious injuries there is a great risk of internal infection from the cat’s saliva.

Any bats caught by cats will need the experienced help of a bat carer.

Please follow this link for instructions on how to contain the bat and call the
Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228.

By following a few simple steps responsible cat owners can stop bats being harmed:

  • Bring your cat indoors half an hour before sunset and keep it in all night when bats are most active (April –October).
  • If you cannot keep your cat in all night, bring it in half an hour before sunset and keep it in for an hour after sunset.
  • It is very important to keep cats indoors at night from mid-June until the end of August because bats will be looking after their babies.”

Detailed information can be found by clicking here: Cats_and_Bats.

References:

  1. Woods, M., McDonald, R.A., Harris, S. (2003). Predation of wildlife by domestic cats (Felis catus) in Great Britain. Mamm. Rev. 33: 174–188.
  2. Gordon, J., Matthaei, C., Van Heezik, Y. (2010). Belled collars reduce catch of domestic cats in New Zealand by half. Wildl. Res. 37: 372–378.
  3. Ruxton, G.D., Thomas, S., Wright, J.W. (2006). Bells reduce predation of wildlife by domestic cats (Felis catus). J. Zool. 256: 81-83

 

 

 

Ending the War on Wildlife. A People’s Manifesto For Wildlife, Draft One, Chris Packham et al.

Let’s end the war on wildlife.

‘Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined. Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction. This suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

Of the 218 countries assessed for ‘biodiversity intactness’, the UK is ranked 189, a consequence of centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation and overexploitation of our natural resources.’

– ​State of Nature Report, 2016

Our wildlife needs us – and it needs you more than ever. 

It’s easy to imagine that ‘they’ will fix the environment. But ‘they’ won’t, whoever ‘they’ are. ​We​ need to do it – ​me​ and ​you​. Together we are stronger. Together we can make a difference.

 

Today, Chris Packham launched The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife. This blog post is sourced entirely from the manifesto which makes a series of recommendations to the fields of Education; Wildlife and Animal Welfare; Wildlife Crime, Law, and Protection; Farming; UK Statutory Conservation Agencies; and Rewildling. It also makes recommendations, on amongst many other things: trees, hedgerows and verges, and urban spaces.

Urban space for wildlife is the domain of Orchard Park Wildlife Project. And urban spaces CAN be some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the country.

Access to nature is a human need – central to the quality of our most fundamental physiological requirements (water, air, food), as well as our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

The manifesto states that:

“Urban areas can be some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the country. Gardens and parks – comprising lawn, shrubs and flowering plants – provide food and shelter for a huge array of wildlife. And yet these spaces are disappearing from our towns and cities.

In a report published in 2016, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the percentage of front gardens lost to paving, concrete or gravel had risen to 24%, from just 8% in 20051​ .​ The results, based on a poll of 1,492 people, suggested that more than 4.5 million of Great Britain’s front gardens were entirely paved, while 7.2 million were mostly paved. Another report, published by London Wildlife Trust in 2011, compared aerial surveys of London taken in 1998 and 2006. It found that domestic gardens (both front and back) made up nearly 24 per cent of the London’s total area, but that in those eight years nearly two thirds of its front gardens had been covered with hard surfaces, while the amount of green space in back gardens had shrunk, largely due to the popularity of garden offices2​ .​ “An area of vegetated garden equivalent to 21 times the size of Hyde park was lost between 1998 and 2006,” said the author of the report, Chloë Smith. That’s an average of two Hyde Parks per year (and a further 14 Hyde Parks since 2011).”

 

It goes on to say “We need legislation to re-wild our urban spaces.”

We are lucky in Orchard Park that many of the recommendations in the manifesto are already realised:

many of our fences are hedgehog friendly, we have bird nesting boxes on some of our homes, municipal planting includes many native species, and we have open green spaces.

However, there are recommendations that show there is much more we can do:

  • We can ensure that no more than 10% of our gardens are turned over to paving, decking and fake-turfing
  • We can make gardens more hedgehog friendly
  • We can add more nest boxes in addition to those already built into our homes – if you live in a house or flat, install swift or bat boxes by the eaves.
  • Where space permits, plant a small tree or shrub in your garden
  • Do home composting
  • We need to ensure our small pockets of green for the community are maintained in as a wildlife friendly a way as possible, and look after our trees
  • If we can find a suitable location, create a communal wildlife pond
  • Create ‘pop up habitats’ in the few as yet undeveloped plots – sprinkle pesticide free wildflower seeds
  • Keep cats in at night – this can reduce overall predation by up to 50%, and fit them will a collar and bell – this can also reduce bird predation by 50%
  • If you have a garden, stop using pesticides – weedkillers, ant sprays, slug pellets.
  • Liberate your lawn, let some grass grow long, leave piles of sticks in corners for invertebrates, sow native wild flowers for pollinators, feed garden birds, erect bee and bird boxes
  • Dig a pond – even a washing-up bowl-sized pond will boost biodiversity
  • Connect with nature through what you eat. Grow some food – rocket and tomatoes in window boxes; cucumbers, runner beans, raspberries, blackberries. Home-grown tastes amazing
  • Volunteer with OPWP to look after and enhance what we have, lets make Orchard Park better for people and wildlife
  • Join OPWP on it’s surveys, and safaris, you’ll be surprised to see what lives here if you look

 

The full, referenced, manifesto can be downloaded here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/A-Peoples-Manifesto-for-Wildlife-expanded.pdf

The illustrated manifesto can be downloaded here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Peoples-Manifesto-Download.pdf

 

 

 

Informal Mini Bioblitz at the Wildflower Bank

Bioblitz poster ver 2Join us at 3.20pm on 18 June at the beginning of National Insect Week 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. 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 later in June, and this Citizen Science event is being run as a 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 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.

Information from the bioblitz will also feed into a sign being installed at the Wildflower Bank near to the school showing pictures of the different types of flowers found there, and the insects and wildlife each type of flower supports. We’re planning a competition with the school for the children to create some content for the sign, and this will be launched at an insect and wildflower themed assembly.

We’re working with Orchard Park Community Council, and Histon and Impington Sustainability Group to have our roadside verges managed for wildlife as per Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign and in Orchard Park also per our Habitats Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust BCN. We plan to undertake any necessary remedial practical management on the Wildflower Bank, to ensure it remains rich in species diversity. Grasses are beginning to encroach in some areas, and they might need to be removed, and the soil prepared for reseeding with pesticide free wildflower seeds.

We will run the management as community events, perhaps as part of an Orchard Park family fun environment day.

Thanks to Tim and Carol Inskipp of OPWP for their expertise with identifying all creatures great and small, Holly Freeman of OPWP for all planning and liaison with the school, Louise Bacon of CPERC for expertise in identifying invertebrates, Lush for the Charity Pot Party to advertise and fundraise for equipment for these activities, Education Services 2010 for their funding of the sign and tools, Orchard Park Community Council for altering the mowing schedule and collaboration with the sign, and last but not least Orchard Park Community Primary School for working with us on these and other projects.

 

 

Local Land Plastic, Please Help

 

 

All photos kindly provided by: Andrew Chan

Since David Attenborough’s recent Blue Planet II, we all know that plastic littering the oceans is a big problem. However, we have a massive litter and plastic problem so local, it’s practically (and in many cases around Orchard Park quite literally) on our doorsteps. The Wildlife Area is in a terrible state and sadly even after five years of concerted efforts to clean it up – by Orchard Park Community Council, and volunteers from Orchard Park Wildlife Project, the local Scouts, and Orchard Park Community Primary School to name a few – the litter issue is as bad as ever see: Opwildlife litter.

Andrew Chan (OPCC) flew a drone over the Wildlife Area last week and recorded the flyover. The resulting photos and footage show the wide range and great level of the litter problem and it’s sickening. Literally.

Plastic is composed of toxic compounds which can cause harm to wildlife for many years by polluting land and water. Animals can get stuck in larger pieces of plastic (and cans), or they can ingest both large and micro pieces of plastic, resulting in suffocation and poisoning respectively. We found plastic bags containing dog poo hanging in the trees, obviously this is a human health hazard.

Andrew has made a great video highlighting the litter problem. To view video click here: Highlighting the litter problem at the Wildlife Area

 

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OPWP has used all the footage filmed by the drone to highlight some of the features installed for wildlife at the area, and it also shows just how wide ranging the litter problem is. To view video click here: Longer flyover showing features of the Wildlife Area, and the range and extent of the severe litter problem there

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A study by the University of California and Santa Barbara in the US found that “We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic”. The lead researcher stated they are “very worried that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late” and “there is much more attention paid to how plastics are interacting with marine organisms but there is much, much less known about how plastics interact with terrestrial organisms – I would suspect there is something equivalent going on and it might actually be worse.” (source The Guardian: Taylor 2017).

Other research by Keep Britain Tidy has shown that the presence of litter simply encourages more litter to be tossed aside: if we can keep the Wildlife Area cleaner, it might deter additive littering.

We’re having a litter pick at the Wildlife Area, Ring Fort Rd, CB4 2GR, on Saturday 14 April from 10:00-14:00. Please come along and join us, it’s obvious the wildlife needs your help. Meet at the sports centre, join us for as little or long as you can. Refreshments provided. We look forward to seeing you. Thank you.

 

 

 

Orchard Park’s Third Summer Safari Sunday 9 July 5.30-7.30pm

All of these amazing animals (and a pretty poppy) have been seen around Orchard Park, and all but the bat and moth photographs were taken here. If you spend a moment stopping and looking, you’ll be surprised at what you see. Join us late afternoon/early evening on Sunday 9 July to search for our local wildlife in our annual urban Summer Safari. Tim and Carol Inskipp will be there again kindly sharing their wealth of wildlife knowledge and Cambridge Mammal Group will show us any mammals they might find earlier in the day. Orchard Park Wildlife Project will provide wildlife guide books and ID sheets, but if you have a bird book and binoculars feel free to bring them along. The event will be free, fun and informative, as well as accessible and suitable for all ages and abilities (children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult). As well as meeting the local wildlife it will give you an opportunity to meet new folks from your neighbourhood. Meet at 5.30pm outside the Travelodge Hotel. Join us for as long or as little as you like.

The Summer Safari will be part of Cambridge Wild’s month of activities.  All new wildlife records will be shared with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Environmental Records Centre (CPERC).

Orchard Park’s Wildlife as part of “You Are Here” Exhibition

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The Collaborative Map of North Cambridge created at a range of workshops across the area

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It was a pleasure to see the depictions of Orchard Park’s wildlife on tiles, and all the other colourful exhibits, at the “You Are Here” exhibition by North Cambridge Artist in Residence Isabella Martin. Various artistic sessions in the North Cambridge area culminated in the Exhibition held on Friday and Saturday at the Church of the Good Shepherd off Arbury Road. For more details click: “You Are Here“. Last month Karen Thomas from Kettle’s Yard and artist Rosanna Martin came to oversee our artistic endeavours at our event in OP’s Orchard.

I attempted to photograph each and every wildlife tile shown at the exhibition – can you spot yours? They’re in the slideshow above, you can hit the ‘pause’ button when you get to your tile so you can take a longer look. We plan to ‘release the tiles into the wild’ – details will follow on the blog when we’ve finalised the plans, we’d like everyone to know where their tiles go.

I was particularly pleased to see Orchard Park on the Collaborative Map of North Cambridge (see the second photo above), created at the workshops across the area, represented entirely by wildlife we’ve found here. It’s such a positive way to portray our community. Up to 250 people attending the exhibition were able to print their own copy of the map. The map is informative, amusing, and pleasing to the eye, and I look forward to putting the 202nd print on my wall. You can click on the photo of the map to see it as a bigger image – of course, OP is top left.

Many thanks indeed to Isabella, Rosanna and Karen – we really enjoyed working with you, and we hope you enjoyed making your wildlife tiles.

 

Thanks again to Lush for a fun and batty time at the Charity Pot Party

Thanks again to @LushCambridge for a fun and batty time yesterday. We’re always so grateful for the support we get from Lush, we bought our bat detector with money raised by one of their Charity Pot Party fundraisers. This time we were promoting #WildAboutGardens week and encouraging folks to take a simple step to help bats. Lots of people agreed to do something this week – just look at the bat above covered in symbols each of which represents a pledge: to add a water feature, keep cats in at dusk, reduce lighting, go organic, make a bat home, provide a bug hotel, or add insect friendly plants.

For more info on how you can help bats see: Wild About Gardens Week Resources

 

@LushCambridge Charity Pot Party 22/10/16 Going Batty for #WildAboutGardensWeek

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This year’s Wild About Gardens Week is 24-30 October 2016. It’s focussing on simple steps we can take to support bats and other wildlife. There are lots of things you can do right now to support wildlife in your garden or community green space. Come along to @LushCambridge on Saturday 22nd October to find out how you can help our local bats.

The lovely folks @LushCambridge are very generously holding another Charity Pot Party for Orchard Park Wildlife Project – so please consider buying a pot of the gorgeous smelling lotion that makes your skin silky smooth (like a bat’s wing?!?!). The proceeds will allow Orchard Park Wildlife Project to purchase the tools and equipment we need to run our free community events that aim to make Orchard Park better for wildlife and people.

We’ll have plenty of ideas so you can prepare for Wild About Gardens Week and find out about how you can help our local bats, and we’d like you to pledge to do something to help them during Wild About Gardens Week. There’ll be fun bat masks and bat puppets which you can decorate and in plenty of time for Halloween. We’ll show you how a bat detector works (Orchard Park Wildlife Project bought our detector with funds kindly raised by a Lush Charity Pot Party) and you can listen to bat calls. Lush staff will be looking a bit batty too!

From the Wild About Gardens Week Website:

“Wild About Gardens Week 2016 is a joint initiative by the RHS, The Wildlife Trusts and Bat Conservation Trust to encourage people to support wildlife in their gardens, with a focus on our UK bats. This is more important than ever. In 2013, wildlife researchers found that 60 percent of UK animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years. Among the variety of reasons for this is loss of habitat.

Many of our common garden species – bats, hedgehogs, house sparrows, and common frogs, for example – are becoming much less common. There are an estimated 15 million gardens in the UK. Together they cover a greater area than all the National nature reserves! By making our own gardens and local green spaces more wildlife-friendly, we can help support a wide range of species.”

For information on threats to bats in the UK see the Bat Conservation Trust page: why bats are declining.

We hope to see you there – do come along and say hello 🙂

Lush, Art, Apples, Wildlife Maps, & Bats. We’re planning our September/October Activities.

OP and map of areas for July activity

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.