School’s out for Summer (well almost)

IMG_0245

Orchard Park Community Primary School Children, Beetles Class, half way through the litter pick after the Wildflower Bank heading towards the Wildlife Area

Yesterday we ran the last of the sessions on local wildlife for Miss Williamson’s Year 4 Beetles class – around 30 pupils approximately 9 years old. We’ve had a great time exploring Orchard Park’s wildlife and finding out how we can help. Orchard Park Wildlife Project planned and delivered three sessions.

The first, focussed on the variety of Habitats around Orchard Park (wildflowers, scrub in the Wildlife Area, grassland, ponds, hedges, mature trees etc.) and the wildlife that lives in each. We had an interactive presentation followed by an exploration of habitats in the school grounds, and an activity to create habitat and wildlife diagrams.

Session two looked at Threats to Wildlife in the UK using local examples where possible. OPWP explained threatened species and population declines, and looked at some of the main threats – habitat loss and degradation, overharvesting/fishing, invasive species, climate change, and disease. As habitat loss is the reason most species are threatened, we played a game similar to musical chairs – the children enjoyed flapping around as bats to the Batman theme tune – to show the effects of habitat loss to local bats is much more detrimental than they might first imagine. As their habitat becomes fragmented, the bats can’t travel between fragments, and the fragments are soon unable to sustain any bats. We followed this by making 3D models of a range of habitats and animals that would be found in them.

Orchard Park has litter problem and the Wildlife Project came into being initially to address the terrible and dangerous litter levels in the Wildlife Area – a densely vegetated area set aside for wildlife, and intended to be undisturbed to provide a safe area for birds to nest etc. Through many litter picks, and work with the Orchard Park Community Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, it’s getting better, but the litter remains – although right now, thankfully, at a lesser level.  Yesterday’s session focussed on Dangers of Litter to Wildlife and how it is dangerous in both the short and long term, and in particular to some of our local favourites: Hedgehogs, Lizards and birds. We explored ideas to help, donned high vis jackets, grabbed equipment, and a did a litter pick along the Wildflower Bank seeded with wildflowers to support insects, and up to the Wildlife Area. It was a lovely sunny day and the children got a lot of bags of little things. We stressed the importance of picking up the small pieces of plastic and cigarette butts, as they can release poisons and pollutants into the ground as they break down over many many years. The Ring Fort Bank wrapping around the school and approach to the Wildlife Area are all looking much better.

Thank you Beetles 🙂

We also thank Miss Williamson for inviting us into her class. We enjoyed all the sessions, and I know she’d like us to go back next year – this would be our third consecutive year running similar sessions.

School isn’t completely out for summer though, as we’re also planning an assembly on Wildflowers and an after school Wildflower and Insect Bioblitz, both feeding into the sign for the Wildflower Bank Habitat, and perhaps a Welly Walk with some preschool children to spot different birds and trees that live here…..All before they break for the long summer holidays.

Advertisements

Fledglings, Flowers, Insects and Formulating Plans

Turdus_merula_-British_Wildlife_Centre,_Newchapel_Surrey,_England_-juvenile-8

Photo credit: Peter Trimming. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I was lucky to see a juvenile blackbird in the garden this morning. I stepped away to get my camera but sadly it moved away before I could get a photo, so I’ve used this great picture by Peter Trimming.

It’s the time of year when we’ll be starting to see fledglings around. So far I’ve seen just a single blue tit fledgling, calling continuously and flapping it’s wings rapidly to attract the attention of its parent to beg for food. If you find a baby bird and you’re concerned about it, check the RSPB info below , and see their website for advice on what to do.

Baby_bird_infographic500

Feeding birds is to be encouraged all year round, but at this time of the year it will help them feed their young too. See the RSPCA’s Guide to Feeding Birds for more information.

It’s also the time of year when we’re starting to get more flowers too. The Wildflower Bank on Ring Fort Rd has had Cowslips this year so far, but we’ll have to wait a little while before it’s in all it’s flowery glory.

Education Services 2010 have kindly provided funding, and some structural materials were donated generously by Kettles Yard, to make a sign for the Wildflower Bank showing its variety of flowers, and the invertebrates that each type of flower supports. Orchard Park Primary School children will be helping to create content for the sign.

We’re also looking into the feasibility of running a mini bioblitz, an activity when naturalists and members of the public work together to find as many species as possible within a set location and time, at the Wildflower Bank during National Insect Week 18-24 June. National Insect Week’s video shows why insects are so important.

Helping Wildlife in Autumn, Leave the Leaves :)

image

autumn-leaves

Below is a compilation of information about how to help our local wildlife in Autumn.

From Gardeners’ World Website:

Leaves

Remove leaves from paths or lawns but transfer them to a corner or beneath a hedge, where hedgehogs and other animals can crawl for shelter.

Ponds

Male frogs often spend winter in the muddy depths of ponds, breathing through their skin. But if the pond freezes over, gases caused by decaying plant material can get trapped and poison them. Remove debris from ponds now, and float a tennis or golf ball on the surface to prevent ice from sealing it.

Twigs

Put bundles of twigs at the back of borders, or in a plant pot on its side, where invertebrates and small mammals can shelter.

Borders

Leave herbaceous borders intact in winter so decaying plants can act as a ‘winter duvet’ for small mammals and insects. Clumps of ornamental grasses may offer the perfect hibernaculum for a hedgehog, while hollow plant stems and seedheads provide nooks and crannies for invertebrates. Seedheads are also a source of oil-rich food for birds which may visit to feed.

Plant pots

Leave stacks of plant pots in a sheltered spot to offer shelter for bees and other insects needing a cool, dry place.

Compost heaps

A variety of species, including hedgehogs and queen bumblebees, find compost heaps the perfect place to hibernate. if your heap is in a plastic bin with a lid, this will keep it dry, but be sure to provide access for hibernators at the base by standing the bin on bricks. If you have an open bin, cover it with a thick piece of old carpet to keep it dry and insulated. Avoid disturbing the bin between autumn and April, when all species will have finished their long snooze.

From House Beautiful Website:

Ivy

One of the best plants for your garden wildlife is ivy, especially in autumn and winter. Many flowering plants will start to die during the colder season, whereas ivy flowers are only starting to flourish. These prove to be an important source of food for bees, butterflies and other pollinators when other nectar-bearing plants are dying off.The evergreen nature of ivy is perfect for sheltering birds and insects while other trees lose all their leaves. If that wasn’t enough, ivy also produces winter berries that are a wonderful food source for birds, who use their energy to control their own body temperature.

Nurturing garden ivy is probably the most important piece of advice for helping nature survive this autumn and winter.

Bird Food

It’s important to keep their food and water sources topped up in your garden. As soon as the temperatures drop and the natural berries disappear, birds will appreciate your offering – they rely on high-energy, high-fat winter food to fuel them through the colder months.

 

Bug Hotel Destroyed

bug hotel destroyed

Remnants of the Bug Hotel. Photo Credit: Andrew Chan OPCC

OPWP is sad to announce that the Bug Hotel, constructed near to the Orchard Community Centre was destroyed a couple of weeks ago. The Bug Hotel had been made in the summer with wood, sticks, pine cones and other things with nooks and crannies to provide a shelter for invertebrates. Even though the wood sections had been screwed together, someone, or several folks, decided to dismantle it. Very disappointing after the effort to build it.

Raised bed at the Community Centre

At the penultimate summer event with the Youth Group, one of the raised beds was painted and potted up. We’re planning work with the 1st Cambridge Scout Group to ensure it’s maintenance. The addition of Ivy means that pollen and nectar will be available as late as possible into the season for honey bees and other pollinators. Thank you to the Youth Group, Orchard Park Community Council, and Education Services 2010 for making this project possible.

Orchard Park Wildlife Project will add some educational signs to the raised beds very soon.

For background information on this project, the importance of pollinators and more on how to help them see previous blog post: Sowing Seeds

 

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.

IMG_4117

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

IMG_4115

Traps set and ready to distribute

IMG_0769

Cambridgeshire Mammal Group members setting the traps

Bank Vole Myodes glareolus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Birds:

Common Swift Apus apus

Feral Pigeon Columba livia

Magpie Pica pica

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

puffed up starling

Starling

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

good goldfinch

Goldfinch

Bumblebees:

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)

Moths:

Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella

Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata

Eggar sp. Lasiocampa sp.

Butterflies:

Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus

Beetles:

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

IMG_0775

Black Ant sp.

Walnut Leaf Gall Aceria erinea

IMG_1041

Lime Nail Gall Eriophyes liliae

IMG_1040

Summer Safari 2017

SS17 poster

For more information see: Orchard Park’s Third Summer Safari Sunday 9 July 5.30-7.30pm

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).

Planting for Improved Garden Security and Wildlife Benefit at Crime Prevention event tonight

 

fp Crime reduction and wildlife friendly plants copy

Op Hunter security event – Orchard Park

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
Berberis sp.

 

Berberis thunbergii
(3 effective defense)

Berberis stenophylla
(2 very effective defense)

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

Chaenomeles speciosa
(2 effective defense)

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

Hawthorn

 

Crataegus monogyna

(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

Common Holly

Ilex aquifolium

(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

Oregon Grape

Mahonia aquifolium
(3 effective defense)

Mahonia media

(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

Olearia             macrodonta

(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

Blackthorn, Sloe

Prunus spinosa

(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

Roses
(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

Gorse

Ulex europaeus

(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

Sources:

1 https://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/garden-%20boundaries-fences-and-defensive-plants/618/defensive-%20plants-shrubs-and-trees-shrub-fences/

2 https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/a-z-of-a-wildlife-garden/atoz/b/berberis.aspx

3 http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/plants/shrub/chaenomeles-japonica.aspx

4 http://www.joyofplants.com/wildlife/picklist.phpname=meadow&pl=5&adv=1&ot=&r=0&g=0&p=4&o=926

5 http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/plants/tree/crataegus-monogyna.aspx

5A https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/a-z-of-a-wildlife-garden/atoz/h/hawthorn.aspx

6 https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/a-z-of-a-wildlife-garden/atoz/h/holly.aspx

7 http://wildaboutgardens.org.uk/plants/shrub/mahonia-aquifolium.aspx

8 http://www.joyofplants.com/wildlife/picklist.php?name=common&pl=5&adv=1&ot=&r=0&g=0&p=4&o=984

9 https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/native-trees/blackthorn/

10 http://www.britishhardwood.co.uk/prunus-spinosa-blackthorn/155/

11 https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/a-z-of-a-wildlife-garden/atoz/r/rose.aspx

12 https://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/advice/gorse/

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

img_4012

img_4011

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.