Helping Wildlife in Autumn, Leave the Leaves :)

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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.

 

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Winner of the Butterfly Feeder at Milton Country Park Parklike – Raffle Ticket No.12 :)

butterfly feeder winnerThe raffle ticket pulled out of the hat was number 12. If you have that ticket number, please get in touch at opwildife@gmail.com to arrange delivery/collection of your butterfly feeder prize. Many thanks to all who took part in the Big Butterfly Count – please don’t forget to submit your sightings at www.bigbutterflycount.org

 

Orchard Park Summer Safari Sunday 17 July 7.30pm

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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

Next Activity 21 February 2016 – Wildlife Area Tidy and Hedge Management

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Autumn berries at wildlife area

Berries at the Wildlife Area

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.

Big Butterfly Count at the OP Summer Fiesta

ID-Guide

Come along to the Orchard Park Wildlife Project stall at the Summer Fiesta tomorrow to take part in the Big Butterfly Count Citizen Science Project for your chance to win a goldfinch feeder full of nyjer seed ready to hang in your garden, balcony or window frame. The Big Butterfly Count was launched this morning by David Attenborough and Butterfly Conservation. The wildflower bank along Ring Fort Road, the wildflowers near the Orchard alongside the sports ground, or flowering plants at the edge of the Wildlife Area might be good places to do your count.

We have a limited number of printed ID sheets to bring to the event. However, if you could help by printing your own to bring then that would be very much appreciated – just click on the photo above to access the sheet to print. There is also an app which can be downloaded for you to count your sightings and submit your results on the day. If you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone use one of our printed sheets, record your location, and hand the form back to me to submit your results.

Once you’ve completed your count we will give you a ticket which will be entered into a draw for your chance to win a goldfinch feeder – we have two to give away.

All necessary information for the count along with other fun ideas for engaging with butterflies can be found at http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

We’ll also have some butterfly colouring sheets and dishes to decorate so you can put water or food out for the birds.

For other species we’ve got leaflets with ideas to be more wildlife friendly, and information on our Orchard Park Summer Safari event next Tuesday evening 21st July. I’m delighted we saw bats so close last night at the Wildlife Area and hoping they will show again on Tuesday.

Let the sun shine and see you tomorrow 🙂

Walking With Woodlice – crustaceans in your garden

woodlouseDid you know that woodlice are crustaceans, a group with around 45,000 species? Crustacean means hard shell. Woodlouse are therefore related to crabs, lobsters and barnacles. They live in areas like your compost heap and eat dead and decaying matter – they are important in nutrient recycling. This one had gone off piste and came into my lounge, it obliged a close up photo, and I placed it in the wood chips under the hedge.

The Natural History Museum has created an easy identification key so that you can identify any woodlouse you find in your garden – they call it the Woodlouse Wizard: woodlouse wizard.

If you enjoy trying to identify wildlife of all shapes and sizes around Orchard Park, or if you’d like to have a go, join us early evening on 21st July whilst we look at species active in the daytime, before we move onto moths and bats a little later. More details of the event will be provided next week. Thankfully I shouldn’t think we’ll come across any sea louse in Cambridge.

The folks at QI have compiled some words on woodlice:

Woodlice

Woodlice, also known as armadillo bugs, cheeselogs and pill bugs, are not insects but crustaceans. They breathe through gills which are attached to the swimming legs on their abdomen; moist tubes extract oxygen from the air but if submerged in water they can survive for about an hour.

Woodlice don’t urinate, but expel waste through their shell in the form of ammonia vapour. They drink through their bottoms and eat anything from rotting vegetation to their own faeces.

The giant isopod or sea louse, Bathynomus gigantes, is a second cousin (same order, different suborder, family etc) with a striking resemblance to a rather grumpy woodlouse – only it can grow to over two feet long.

 

 

The Importance of your Gardens as Nature Reserves

Take a look at this 6 minute video by Chris Packham. See what a difference we could make in Orchard Park.

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Click the link below for the video:

http://bbc.in/1E4YYGM

Grow Wild Seeds Planted Around Orchard Park

Starting off near Engledow Drive

Starting off near Engledow Drive

Preparing the soil for the seeds

Preparing the soil for the seeds

If you see these around Orchard Park, it's where we have planted native wildflower seeds.

If you see these around Orchard Park, it’s where we have planted native wildflower seeds.

A home for solitary bees

A home for solitary bees

This is where the bees go in. If you see a tube with a plug of vegetation or chewed leaves at the end, a bee has moved in.

This is where the bees go into the bee homes. If you see a tube with a plug of vegetation or chewed leaves at the end, a bee has moved in.

Many thanks to everyone who came along to help out with the planting yesterday.

We hope that the seeds will germinate under trees around Orchard Park to create mini meadows. The Grow Wild website says “There’s such a variety of life on earth and it’s all around us, even in towns and cities. It’s known as biodiversity and we can all work together to help it flourish in our neighbourhoods. Just by growing wild flowers in spaces where we live, we can increase wild plant diversity. And once the wild flowers are flourishing, they will attract lots of different creatures, bringing biodiversity right to your doorstep. The humblest wild flower spot can be a haven for wildlife – and by working together to maximise our impact, we can help our natural world.”

We hope we’ll get a bit of rain over the next few days to water the seeds we’ve planted. However if it is very dry we would be very grateful if you give the seeds a helping hand by providing a bit of water to them. If you do this please could you let us know at opwildlife@gmail.com – we can provide you with 2 for 1 tickets to Kew Gardens to say thanks you.

We’ve also placed 3 bee houses around Orchard Park – if you see that any of the tubes have vegetation or chewed leaves plugging the end, a solitary bee has probably moved in. The bees won’t have far to go to collect pollen and nectar with mini meadows nearby.

Making Mini Meadows 19th April 11.00-12.30

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Join us on 19th April to help plant mini meadows around Orchard Park, and be part of the national Grow Wild campaign.

You’ll be joining the UK’s biggest ever wild flower campaign, helping to create over one million square metres of colour in summer 2015.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.

Sign up for the Grow Wild e-newsletter and social media at growwilduk.com 

Keep an eye on the blog for details of where to meet.

For more information about wildflower meadows, and a booklet about creating meadows in your garden see:

http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/98029