Summer Safari 2017

Many thanks indeed again to Peter Pilbeam, Pat and Alan of Cambridgeshire Mammal Group for setting the traps around Orchard Park, and to Tim and Carol Inskipp for identifying everything we came across.

Many thanks too to everyone who came along. We hope you enjoyed it.


Some of the people at the Summer Safari as we explored the edge of the grassland


Traps set and ready to distribute


Cambridgeshire Mammal Group members setting the traps

Bank Vole Myodes glareolus



Common Swift Apus apus

Feral Pigeon Columba livia

Magpie Pica pica

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

puffed up starling


Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

good goldfinch



Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum

Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum

Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius

White/Buff-tailed Bumblebee (not possible to separate these species at this time of year, except for Queens)


Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella

Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata

Eggar sp. Lasiocampa sp.


Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus


Common Red Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha fulva

7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata

Other insects:

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Roesel’s bushcricket Metrioptera roeselii

Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus

Southern Hawker dragonfly Aeshna cyanea

Other invertebrates

Brown-lipped Snail Cepaea nemoralis

2017-07-09 18.12.15

Web Nursery Spider Pisauris mirabilis


Black Ant sp.

Walnut Leaf Gall Aceria erinea


Lime Nail Gall Eriophyes liliae


State of Nature 2016


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.

Citizen Science: Collect Goldfinch Information for the BTO

Goldfinch survey BTO

Photo by Jill Pakenham as used by BTO website

BTO Goldfinch Feeding Survey

We’ve got lots of Goldfinches in Orchard Park, they look and sound lovely. Why not take part in a citizen science project being run by the British Trust for Ornithology to find out why they’re increasingly common in our gardens? Click on the link above for more information.

From the BTO:

The Goldfinch Feeding Survey is running between November 2015 and February 2016 inclusive. You do not need to provide bird food to take part in this survey.

This survey will support new research being undertaken by BTO Research Ecologist Kate Plummer, to investigate whether the increasing use of garden bird foods by Goldfinches is helping their national population to grow.

The Importance of Citizen Science to the birds and the bees and the herps and the hedgehogs….

good goldfinch

What is Citizen Science video – I first posted a link to this a couple of months ago when we announced our Orchard Park Citizen Science activities.

Reports released yesterday by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) highlight the importance of Citizen Science. Their website says “Through the efforts of volunteers participating in BTO surveys, the bird populations of the British Isles have been monitored more effectively and for longer than those of most other parts of the world. This has produced a uniquely rich and detailed body of scientific work. This will help us to understand the complex challenges facing wild birds at a time of great change in the environment.”

The reports provide information on the Annual Totals for the Nest Record Scheme, and Species Longevity Records for Britain and Ireland. The longevity records are based on information carried on rings placed on birds by volunteers, and reports of that information to the BTO by volunteers.

Checking the longevity records for some of the regular visitors to my garden:

I’ve started to see Robins return to the garden recently, did you know they could live this long? You might be surprised to see how long some of the small and colourful visitors can live. Of course these records show the oldest recorded individuals, but they give an indication that the birds, on average, might live longer than you might imagine.

Robin  Erithacus rubecula     8 years 4 months 30 days
Blue Tit  Cyanistes caeruleus     10 years 3 months 10 days
Great Tit  Parus major     13 years 11 months 5 days
Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto     16 years 10 months 17 days
Goldfinch  Carduelis carduelis     8 years 8 months 4 days
Dunnock  Prunella modularis     11 years 3 months 7 days

After confirmation that we have a good breeding population of Common Lizards in Orchard Park, we hope people will join us to help with a population estimates and longer term monitoring of these beautiful reptiles on our doorstep. Information we collect can be passed on to the relevant herpetological organisations for their use in wider monitoring schemes too..

We can also help by mapping hedgehogs: and counting bees and butterflies and…..there’s so much we can do to help.

Summer fiesta goldfinch feeder winners

Loved being next to the Owls today at the summer fiesta.


Thanks everyone who took part in the Big Butterfly Count

The two winning tickets for goldfinch feeders were numbers 2 and 3. If you didn’t claim your prize at the fiesta, the feeders are at the Orchard Community Centre for you to collect from there.

We look forward to seeing people again at the Summer Safari on Tuesday – more details at: Summer Safari

Regular new visitors



Very happy to have regular visits from goldfinch now. The feeder full of nyjer seed, especially for goldfinches, has been up for about 18 months but I’ve seen only two or three in most of that time. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had regular visits from two, sometimes three goldfinches at the same time… This pic isn’t the best, I’ll try to get a better one.