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).
The new local initiative to help hedgehogs was launched at the Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project event on Saturday. The main aim is to encourage people to open their gardens, and encourage their neighbours to do the same, so that gardens are accessible to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs need to move around quite large areas to feed, find mates and shelter. We want you to create hedgehog highways to provide what they need. See the website for details of what you can do to help: hedgehoggardens.wordpress.com. If we don’t work together hedgehogs could be extinct in the UK in a few decades.
We met Paul from the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and their hedgehog mascot @harryhedgehog7 we hope we can collaborate to enhance all of our efforts.
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.
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.
Following on from the litter pick last weekend, we would like to spend a bit more time there to finish the tidying job we started. I’ve asked if SCDC can deliver some bags for recycling and litter picker sticks.
We’ll also be focussing on removing some tree guards around OP from trees and hedges. This activity is recommended in the OP Habitats Management Plan “When planted, tree guards were put around many of the trees. These guards are now redundant as the trees are more resilient against rabbit or deer browsing, and should therefore be removed. Likewise the wooden supports around the trees can be removed”.
Orchard Park offers a range of habitats for wildlife, we have grassland, hedges, trees, scrub etc. Where hedges are established they offer great habitat for a range of wildlife including the Dunnock, a bird in decline in the UK which is subject to a Biodiversity Action Plan. As mentioned previously, the little brown bird around OP which most people think is is sparrow, is probably a Dunnock. In the winter, hedges provide berries for birds, and in the summer, they provide food for invertebrates. They also provide ‘corridors’ to allow animals such as the Hedgehog to move around. It is important our hedgerows are managed as well as possible for wildlife. Our activities on 21st will help with this.
We were hoping to be able to do some pruning of the apple trees in the Orchard on 21st February, but this will now be done in March when experts are available.
Please join us on 21st February for as little or long as you can – we’ll meet at the Wildlife Area at 10:00 and depending on how many people there are, all move on, or have a group move around OP working on the hedges. Please phone 07902 454367 to find us.
A little later than planned, here is the Draft Activity Plan for Orchard Park Wildlife Project for 2016. We have set dates and some times for activities coming up in the next few months. All activities are based on the recommendations in the Orchard Park Habitats Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust for Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. There is scope to add or change activities, and we hope to build on the helpful collaborations leading to enjoyable events this last year or two. All activities are subject to appropriate approval and sourcing appropriate expertise and equipment. Times and dates may be subject to change, so, please keep an eye on the Orchard Park Wildlife and other Facebook groups, as well as here on the blog and Twitter where final details will be confirmed closer to the date.
We hope there is something for everyone. You’re always welcome to join us for a little or long as you are able whilst we try to help the wildlife on our doorstep from the bees, butterflies and moths, to the hedgehogs, herps and bats.
There are also many national wildlife campaigns taking place again this year:
to name but a few…. We’ll let you know as new dates are released so that you have the information you need to contribute to local and national wildlife conservation efforts through citizen science.
If there is an activity that you’d like to do but don’t see, then please get in touch, we’d like to hear from you.
Looking forward to doing our bit again for the wildlife of Orchard Park 🙂
I was saddened and disgusted to see this mess yesterday. What hope for our future if this is how children are treating the Orchard Park Wildlife Area? Is this really your attitude towards the environment, is it your children’s?
Listen to an excerpt of a talk by Mary Barrow, formerly a senior nurse at Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital, and now at Befriend a Hedgehog, advising about the problems litter causes to hedgehogs and other wildlife.
PLEASE educate your children to respect wildlife and the environment. Send them along to some of OPWP’s activities, so they can learn about the local wildlife that lives here, begin to appreciate it, and find out what they can do to help.
Thank you again to Lush for the second Charity Pot Fundraiser for Orchard Park Wildlife Project. We are very grateful to receive these funds to purchase equipment for our activities.
Thank you also to all Lush customers who chose an activity from the Wild About Gardens Week ‘help the hedgehogs’ list, and pledged to take measures in their gardens to assist our spiky critters. We’d love to see what you did. If you can take a photo of your hedgehog home, feeding stations, or hole for the hedgehog highway, then send it to email@example.com and we’ll put it on the website. We look forward to seeing them 🙂
Also, if you made a hole in your fence using the template, don’t forget to map it at Hedgehog Street: http://bighedgehogmap.org/
If you haven’t taken any hedgehog action yet but would like to, then see the previous blog post with plenty of suggestions: how to help hedgehogs
In preparation for our Charity Pot event at Lush on Saturday during Wild About Gardens Week, here is a collection of crafty Autumn and Hedgehog activities. Encouraging children to engage with wildlife through art and crafts can foster a sense of wonder and caring for our wild creatures and their habitats. Most of these activities can be done with things you’ll already have around the home.
Themed crafts and activities:
Photography and Hedgehogs (RHS competition)