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).
Wednesday 29 March 17:00 – 19:30 hrs
The Orchard Community Centre, Central Avenue, Orchard Park, Cambridge, CB4 2EZ
Cambridgeshire Constabulary are holding a crime prevention event at Orchard Park community centre to highlight security improvements that residents can make to protect their homes and reduce opportunist crime.
Officers and staff will be available to provide advice and information. A senior officer will be providing a crime prevention seminar at 6.30p.m.
There will also be security products available at a discounted rate, as well as information about property registration and coding.
Neighbourhood teams will be patrolling and visiting local streets, to increase security awareness.
Please come along to find out more (Source: https://southcambscops.org/2017/03/22/op-hunter-security-event-orchard-park/)
Orchard Park Wildlife Project will be there to advise on plants that can help with security at the same time as being beneficial to wildlife – idea by Kate Parsley.
Plants recommended for their defensive properties on the Crime Prevention Website that also benefit wildlife
Shrubs and small trees
Please note the top of the table is not showing all of the information. Scroll down to the link for a PDF complete version
|Plant and defence grade (1st-3rd)1||Defensive Properties1||Flowers / berries||Height1, type, and how to plant||Wildlife benefits|
|All Berberis are spiny and make excellent barrier hedges||Deciduous varieties have good autumn colour, flowers April-May, has berries2||3m Best planted in a group with other shrubs. An evergreen, it prefers full sun and a moist soil, growing slowly2||Food and shelter
B. thunbergii can provide berries into autumn and winter2
Birds are attracted to the berries, whilst the thorns provide a barrier for safe nesting sites2
|Japonica, Japanese Quince
|A thorn-bearing shrub with white flowers that is often wall trained||Attractive red or orange spring flowers which are followed by sizeable yellow fruit3||2m A thorny, spreading shrub that can be allowed to do its own thing. Will tolerate some shade3||Food: flowers and berries3
Birds eat fruit and use dense branches as protection and nest sites.
Flowers attractive to bees and bumblebees3
Provides nectar and pollen for solitary bees4
(1 extremely effective)
Crataegus prunifolia a compact variety
(1 extremely effective)
|Ideal hedge barrier, thorny and dense||White flowers in late spring followed by bright red berries5||7+m Tolerates a wide variety of conditions, including polluted and exposed sites5A||Food and shelter5
Blackbird, Bluetits, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Crows, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Robin, Starlings, Waxwings etc feed on berries5
Black Veined White Butterfly caterpillar food plant. Flowers also visited by adult butterflies seeking nectar: Brimstone, Chinese Character, Grey Dagger, Lackey, Lappet, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Light Emerald, Mottled Beauty, Mottled Pug, Swallowtailed, Vapourer and Yellow-tail Moth food plant. Small Eggar Moth food plant when hedges left untrimmed in summer5
Host to innumerable insects5
Small mammals e.g. mice, bank voles and foxes take berries5
(2 very effective defense)
|Ideal for barrier plantings||Male and female flowers are on separate shrubs; for a female shrub to produce berries, it must be pollinated by a male growing nearby6||2m Grows in any soil and copes well with full sun or shade6||Food and shelter6
Bees and bumblebees collect its nectar and pollen.
Caterpillars of the holly blue butterfly eat buds and flowers.
Birds: Thrushes, Robins, Dunnocks, finches etc. use it for nesting as it provides excellent protection.
Blackbirds, thrushes etc. eat berries.
Hedgehogs, small mammals, toads and slow worms hibernate in deep leaf litter that builds up beneath it6
(2 very effective defense)
|Low growing shrub with spiny leaves||Clusters of bright yellow flowers are produced in spring, followed by spherical, blue-black berries7||1.5m Vigorous, suckering shrub that can cope with most soils and thrive in shady spots where many other plants succumb7||Food7
Nectar and pollen may be taken by Blackcaps, Bluetits and House Sparrows. Berries eaten by Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes7
Excellent early-flowering nectar source for bees and bumblebees.
Bright-line Brown-eye, Cabbage and Peppered Moth caterpillar food plant7
|New Zealand Holly
(3 effective defense)
|Shrub for exposed sites, with silver-toothed leaves||Clusters of white, fragrant, daisy-like flowerheads8||1.5m Sun-loving plant which is hardy in warmer parts of the country. It tolerates wind, and do well in towns8||Food8
Flowers are attractive to bees and many species of fly8
(1 extremely effective)
|Excellent dense defensive shrub or small tree.||Snowy white blossom appears in very early spring before the leaves and is followed in late autumn by the purplish-black fruits10||1.8m Very tough and tolerant of most soils and situations, including wet, exposed sites10||Food and Shelter9
Flowering, blackthorn provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees in spring. Its foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the Lackey, Magpie, Common Emerald, Small Eggar, Swallow-tailed and Yellow-tailed. Also used by Black and Brown Hairstreak butterflies.
Birds nest among the dense, thorny thickets, eat caterpillars and other insects from the leaves, and feast on the berries in autumn9
(2 very effective defense)Dog RoseRosa caninaField rose
Rosa arvensisIt is illegal to plant Rosa rugosa in the wild or allow it to ‘escape’!11
|Dense and thorny vegetation||Flowers||2-9m dependent on variety. Old-fashioned varieties are fragrant and disease-resistant11||Food and flowers11
Hybrid tea roses, are also useful addition11
Fruits popular with birds.
Wide range of insects attracted to the flowers including bees and butterflies11
(1 extremely effective)
|Superb barrier shrub||Small yellow flowers12||1.5m Grows well on poor dry soils1||Food and shelter12
Nest sites for birds, important for invertebrates12
Refuge for birds in harsh weather. In flower for long periods – an important nectar source in early spring and early winter, when little else is in flower12
Idea by Kate Parsley, Chair, OPWP
Please note some of the information at the top of the table is obscured due to the automatic layout of the webpage. To see a full PDF version of the table, click here: table summarised
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!