Making Recycled Bird Seed Feeders with the Youth Group

Last Thursday OPWP held an event with Young People’s Workers at the Orchard Community Centre for the local youth group to make seed feeders from bottles. Some of the bottles had been collected during the scout’s recent litter pick. We demonstrated how to make the feeders and repurpose the bottles and how to fill them with a mix of seeds and suet (it stays in a bit better if suet is heated and added to the seed mix – just make the opening a little larger than suggested in the instructions below). We also had some bird books on hand to show the types of birds the feeders are likely to attract locally.

Many thanks for giving us the opportunity to work with you, and we look forward to the events we’ve planned for the summer: making the bug hotel, and getting everything going with the raised beds 🙂

Click on the links below for information on making seed feeders:

RSPB Instructions for making seed feeders

And for the seedy suet mix see the Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Watch activity sheet:

seed suet mix

1st Cambridge Scout Group

IMG_0701Last Friday evening 1st Cambridge Scout Group did litter picking at the Wildlife Area, Balancing Pond, and grassy areas adjacent to the skate park. Several bin bags of litter were collected. We saved some bottles to repurpose into seed feeders for birds.

Many thanks for helping the people and wildlife of Orchard Park 🙂

Conservation Optimism Summit 20-22 April 2017, Cambridge Wild and OPWP at ‘Going Wild Solutions Fair’

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Adapted from the Cambridge Conservation Forum website: Conservation is too often seen as a crisis discipline, and one in which bad news dominates. Although we are facing huge challenges, there are many positive stories where conservation and other sectors have made a difference to people’s lives and to the status of wild nature.

A summit which will reframe the conservation movement by celebrating positive thinking in conservation, and putting forward a road map for change towards an optimistic and forward-thinking future begins today.

Lasting 3 days in all, with two days at Dulwich College in Oxford and then one day at ZSL London Zoo, a twin event is also taking place in Cambridge hosted by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative focussing on public outreach and citizen engagement. The summit is part of a global launch to further promote the #Earthoptimism network.

Organisers really want as many people to participate in this event as possible, from academics to students, people working in the arts, to people from the business and public policy sectors who want to promote all the great work that is being done to support nature.

Orchard Park Wildlife Project will be at the David Attenborough Building, Pembroke St, Cambridge, on Saturday from 11.00 as part of the Cambridge Wild network in the ‘Walk on the wild side – connecting people to nature’ part of Going Wild Solutions Fair.

The Fair is divided into four themes, each of which addresses an aspect of daily life. Within each theme visitors will be able to take part in activities relating to that theme, ask questions, and pledge to make positive changes in their lives.

There no advanced booking for the Solutions Fair: everyone is welcome, so please come along to immerse yourself in what promises to be an uplifting, inspirational and action-packed day.

Buying Smart: reuse, recycle and repair

In this zone visitors will be able to bring clothes to swap, take a fresh look at recycling, learn where their purchases come from, and what the real price of plastic is. This zone will also include a free repair café, so visitors are encouraged to bring their broken bits and pieces, giving these items a second chance and preventing them from ending up in landfill. Stallholders include Amey Cespa, M&S, Circular Cambridge, Pukka Herbs, TRAFFIC, John Lewis, FSC, RSPB, Fauna & Flora International, and Cambridge Repair Café.

Bright Ideas: lowering your carbon footprint

Here visitors will be able to learn how to tread lightly by lowering their carbon footprint through, for example, green energy and sustainable travel, as well as carbon offsetting. Stallholders include Cambridge Carbon Footprint, World Land Trust, Cool Earth, and Transition Cambridge.

Eating Well: learning about a sustainable diet 

This theme aims to dispel the myths around food and the environment, and gets to the nitty gritty of what a sustainable diet really is. Stallholders include Marine Conservation Society, WOUP, Cambridge Food Cycle, WRAP, Cambridge Sustainable Food, Hodmedods, and Hotel Chocolat.

In the Going Wild theme, visitors will see how easy it is to get into nature and what they can do to help wildlife, from hedgehogs to bees. Stallholders include National Trust, Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts, British Ecological Society, Cambridge Wild, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Cambridge Botanic Garden, Roots & Shoots, and Brighton high school.

In addition to the four themes, the top floor of the David Attenborough Building will be given over to the environment and the arts, with poetry readings, writing workshops, bird therapy and more, providing the perfect space to come and relax during the #EarthOptimism Solutions Fair.

The Solutions Fair runs concurrently with the Stories of Hope programme in the Babbage Lecture Theatre on the same day.

Cambridge Wild

From the Cambridge Wild website:

CambridgeWild: www.cambridgewild.org.uk
We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cambridgewild.

What is Cambridge Wild?

  • programme of wild places – and wildlife-related events in July in Cambridge. We especially like them to be free to access for all ages and abilities. We don’t currently have any funds to support these but can help promote them and, maybe, find extra volunteers (see below).
  • An informal network of people and groups interested in wild spaces, wildlife and how people interact with them – we are based in and around Cambridge and most of us are volunteers (see below).
  • portal to other resources (see below). Two-page summary list to print.

Programme of events in July 2017

We are still working on this but might have a bit of a ‘pollinator’ focus this year. In the meantime, this is what we have gathered:

  • Cambridge Botanic Garden are working on their summer events programme now
  • Cambridge Natural History Society – have a visit to Wandlebury on 5 July and a Field study at Coldham’s Common on 20 July (events page)
  • Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook will do one or more nature walk(s) along the brook (dates to be arranged)
  • Nightingale garden – we hope to do a bat walk and overnight moth trap  (probably Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July) and maybe some other mini-beast hunting, tree trail or pond-related activities. We might do something at Wulfstan Way shops too – depending on how the new raingardens are doing.
  • Orchard Park – will do a wildlife safari (8 July – activities page)
  • Wildlife Trust – Cambridge Local GroupEast Pit glow-worm survey – Weds 26 July from 10.15pm
  • Wildlife Trust around Cambridge are working on their June+ events programme at the moment
  • Wildlife Trust and ScudamoresBat punt safaris – Friday evenings from May to September (really good!). There is a charge for this but it benefits the Trust.

All of the nest boxes were painted and we hope to see them around Orchard Park soon :)

 

All of the nest boxes are gone. Many thanks to the Community Council for funding them and to Scotsdales for providing free delivery. Do post pictures to show where your bird boxes have been placed around Orchard Park 🙂

For advice on where to put them click here

Many thanks for all the help setting up, running and taking the stall down too!

Meet the locals, give a bird family a home and contribute to conservation, whilst improving your own wellbeing

 

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Come along to Unwin Square, in front of the shops, on 1st April from 10.00-14.00. Orchard Park Community Council are organising an Easter Fun Day, click here for more information via the OPCC Facebook page. It’s a great chance to meet local folks, or to come along with your neighbours if you already know them.

Orchard Park Community Council have very kindly offered to cover the costs of some nest box kits (donations are welcome to help recoup some of their costs) which you can decorate and place in your garden, next to your window or balcony, to provide homes for our feathered friends. These boxes are most likely to attract birds from the Tit family (Paridae). They’re gorgeous and energetic little things, a joy to watch in the garden.

As mentioned previously, watching birds has been proven to improve our health and wellbeing. One study by the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and University of Queensland, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

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Blue tit, Orchard Park garden winter 2012

We can help you to find a suitable place to put your nest box up and let you know which birds you’re likely to see in your garden. Although many birds will have already started nesting, it’s not unusual for them to change nests for a second clutch, and if you’re not in time for them this year, there’s always next.

More information on nest boxes from the Gardenature website:

When is the latest time to put up a nest box in the season?

Garden birds generally start breeding around mid February, ideally you should have put a nest box in place by the end of Feb beginning of March. This said, we have known bird boxes to be put up in April that have had successful results.

When and how do I clean out the nest box ?

The nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites, these can remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year. We recommend that old nests be removed from August onwards or once you are certain the birds have stopped using the box.

Use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites, and let the box dry out thoroughly before replacing the front or top panels. Insecticides and flea powders must not be used.

How do I position my nest box ?

There are a number of guidelines you can follow to help maximise your chances of birds using a nest box.
It is highly recommended that you face the nest box between North and East. What is important is that you do not face the hole towards the prevailing wind as this will almost certainly mean that rain will get into the box in wet and windy weather. Try to avoid placing a nest box where there will be prolonged exposure to sunlight as overheating inside the box can sometimes result in heat stress to the chicks.
Placing a nest box in close proximity to a feeding device or feeding station may well put off birds from nesting in the box. Most nesting birds are highly territorial and do not like intruders on their territory. Either remove feeders just before and during the breeding season or place the nest box well away from the feeding station.
Make sure that the birds have a clear flight path to the nest box without any clutter directly in front of the entrance. Tilt the box forward slightly so that any driving rain will hit the roof and bounce clear.
To attract Blue Tits, Great Tits etc, ideally your nest box should be fixed two to five metres up a tree or wall to prevent predators such as cats reaching them.
Open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens need to be low down, below 2m, well hidden in vegetation. Those for spotted flycatchers need to be 2-4m high, sheltered by vegetation but with a clear outlook. Woodpecker boxes need to be 3-5m high on a tree trunk with a clear flight path and away from disturbance.
There are several methods for attaching your nest box to a tree. If using a nail try to make sure it is an aluminium one as this will cause the least damage to the tree and pose less of a hazard at a later date if the tree is cut down or trimmed using a chainsaw. Alternatively boxes can be attached with garden wire around the trunk or branch. Holes can be drilled on either side of the bird box roof to help do this. Use a piece of garden hose or similar around the wire to prevent damage to the tree.”
Also see the BTO Website.
Why do we need to provide birds with nest boxes?
From the BTO (see their website for additional information): “Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.”
Benefits of nest boxes 
Adapted from the BTO: “Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, providing a nest box gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.”
If you’re really keen you can monitor the box and provide feedback to OPWP and the BTO: https://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/monitor

2017 and RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

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Image credit: RSPB

OPWP is working with the OP Community Council and others to create our activity plan for 2017. We will announce the activities soon.

In the meantime, to get going with wild fun this year, why not take part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, it’s the world’s largest wildlife survey and happening on 28-30 January.

Click here to request a free pack from the RSPB to get you started.

Click here to download a free pack.

The packs offer food ideas, activities, bird identification guides and a calendar showing all types of wildlife, not just birds, that you’re likely to see each month from January until December.

It would be great to hear what you see around Orchard Park during the birdwatch – use the form below to let us know.

During this cold and wet weather, I’ve had more Blackbirds than usual in my garden. Although I see Pied Wagtails regularly around Orchard Park, they’re not normally visitors to my garden, but I’ve seen a couple hopping around this last week. I’ve put some extra food out, hopefully something suitable for most visitors, and I need to make sure I’ve replenished my stock of food for Robins in time for the Birdwatch. The wider the variety of food you offer, the wider variety of birds you’ll attract.

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.

 

See Orchard Park’s Wildlife captured on your hand decorated tiles, in the follow up exhibition

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Does anyone recognise this tile? Looking forward to seeing all of them at the event 🙂

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We enjoyed our afternoon making tiles with Kettle’s Yard artists capturing the wildlife of our Orchard and Orchard Park more widely. We hope you did too. The tiles have now been fired and will soon be available to view as part of an exhibition. You can also make a print of our north Cambridge map. Do go along to see and take part 🙂

Details from Karen Thomas at Kettle’s Yard:

“As you will know, our 2016 Artist in Residence, Isabella Martin, and her supporting team of artists have been working with local groups and residents for the past nine months, gathering information for a new map.

We are delighted to tell you that the map is nearing completion and hope that you will be able to join Isabella at a temporary print studio where you can screen print your own copy of the map.

Isabella will be setting up a temporary print studio at Church of the Good Shepherd on Friday 25th November, 2pm – 7pm and Saturday 26th November, 11am – 5pm. This will be accompanied by an exhibition featuring artworks made by local residents and community groups during the residency and works from the Kettle’s Yard Collection.

We would like to invite all our Open House partners and project participants to a special celebration on Friday 25th November 5 – 7pm at the print studio. Please do pass this invitation on to participants.

Hope to see you soon!”

 

Wildlife Awareness via an Artistic Lens, and Celebrating all things Apple

 

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 🙂

 

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.