Lush Charity Pot Party – Seeds for Bees, Pesticides and Pollinators, Extinction is forEver

Come and say hello to Orchard Park Wildlife Project – we’ll be in Lush on Saturday 23rd March. They’re very kindly holding a Charity Pot fundraising Party 😀 OPWP are very grateful for their support.

We’ll have some organic lavender seeds for you to plant in biodegradable pots to take away to grow which you can plant out in your garden, your window box, or hanging basket in summer….

Many people don’t realise that the majority of commercially grown plants sold at garden centres and supermarkets, including those marketed especially for pollinators, are affected by neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) (The Bee Cause and Dave Goulson 2017).

“They attack the brain of the insect, causing paralysis and death, and at lower doses interfere with navigation, disease resistance and learning. Just four-billionths of a gram is a lethal dose to a honey bee, meaning one teaspoon of neonics is enough to give a lethal dose to one and a quarter billion bees….Neonics work systemically in plants and can be sprayed onto leaves, watered into the soil, or used as a seed coating.”

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at Sussex University

Some neonics have been banned by the EU but they can still be used on ornamental plants grown by commercial growers. Research by the University of Sussex on a range of “pollinator friendly” plants from garden centres and supermarkets shows that there’s “cocktail of pesticides, usually a mixture of fungicides and insecticides” present, 70% contained neonics that are particularly bad for bees (Goulson 2019).

Growing plants from seed, especially organic seed, is considered safer for insects and for wildlife friendly gardens in general, so we’re encouraging people to do just that.

The first global scientific review of the status of the world’s insects has shown they are heading towards extinction, with “dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades” (Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019).

“Bees are just one of many pollinators, that is really important
to emphasize, but they are the most important because of the way that they pollinate. They specifically go out to collect pollen to provide for their young. Without them I feel entire ecosystems would collapse; without pollinators but especially without bees.”

Wildlife Gardener, Brigit Strawbridge (cited in Johnson 2019)

Amongst other main drivers of this global decline in insect populations are: habitat destruction, climate change, and biological factors – however pollution mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers – is considered to be the second most significant negative factor causing these declines. Insect decline will in turn lead to increased losses of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects…..(Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys 2019)…. which will add to even more extinction further up the food chain.

Although commercial pesticide use needs to be curbed to make a large scale difference, we can all do our bit – think globally and act locally.

For ideas on what to plant see:

 Plant Pots for Pollinators Video from Butterfly Conservation

The best garden flowers for bees by Professor Dave Goulson

References:

Goulson, D., 2019. Pesticides in “Bee-Friendly” flowers. University of Sussex, pp.1–6. Available at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lifesci/goulsonlab/blog/bee-friendly-flowers [Accessed March 10, 2019].

Johnson, A. 2019. Bridget Strawbridge. Alice Johnson talks to the Inspiring Gardening for Wildlife Advocate. New Nature, March/April, Issue 24.

The Bee Cause & Goulson, D., 2017. Are “bee-friendly” plants poisoning our bees? Friends of the Earth, pp.1–6. Available at: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/are-beefriendly-plants-poisoning-our-bees [Accessed March 2019].

Sánchez-Bayo, F. & Wyckhuys, K.A.G., 2019. Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, 232, pp.8–27.

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Lush Charity Pot Party

nat campaign logos

We thank Lush for their previous support to Orchard Park Wildlife Project. Their funding has allowed us to purchase our bat detector, and all sorts of other equipment and supplies we need to run our varied events, and manage OP’s various habitats.

They’re holding another Charity Pot Party for us in the Cambridge store in Lion Yard this weekend. OPWP will be there from around 10am-2pm on Saturday 16th June – do come and say hello.

We’ll be promoting our Bioblitz event at the Wildflower Bank (being held on Monday 18th June from 3.20-5.20) and encouraging people to pledge to take action on one or more national campaigns…The UK has lost nearly all of its wildflower meadow habitat since the 1930s, this has a negative impact on the insects reliant on that habitat, and in turn the birds and bats that feed on the insects. These three national campaigns (amongst others) are working to improve the situation – we hope people will get involved locally and nationally. We’ve got some wildflower and insect themed activities for children, and a few goodies from the Royal Entomological Society’s National Insect Week campaign to share that will help you identify insects.

Encourages people to learn about insects and their importance

Encourages people to write to their council to manage wildflower road verges for wildlife

Encourages people to take action for bees

Thank you again Lush for the opportunities to raise these important issues, to promote our Bioblitz, and for the funds you raise. I know everyone at Lush will be working very hard to support us on Saturday.

Informal Mini Bioblitz at the Wildflower Bank

Bioblitz poster ver 2Join us at 3.20pm on 18 June at the beginning of National Insect Week for an informal mini Bioblitz of the Wildflower Bank, Ring Fort Rd, CB4 2GR. The event will run for two hours and you’re welcome to join us for as little or long as you like. All equipment will be provided. Sadly, many people don’t realise what a precious resource the Wildflower Bank is – the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since WWII and that’s having a negative impact on the insects that rely on it, and in turn the birds and bats that feed on them.

It’s an opportunity to get involved in Citizen Science (see video below), learn about the importance of our local plants and invertebrates, and support Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign. It’ll be an accessible, free, fun, informative, and family friendly activity – easy to join as you collect children from school.

The Wildflower Bank will be brimming with plants and buzzing with insects later in June, and this Citizen Science event is being run as a bioblitz – where experts and members of the public will try to identify as many of these species as we can in this particular area and in the set time. Members of the public are encouraged to come along to learn, and Cambridge based naturalists are very welcome to come along and share their expertise. All plant and invertebrate records from the bioblitz will be provided to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre.

Information from the bioblitz will also feed into a sign being installed at the Wildflower Bank near to the school showing pictures of the different types of flowers found there, and the insects and wildlife each type of flower supports. We’re planning a competition with the school for the children to create some content for the sign, and this will be launched at an insect and wildflower themed assembly.

We’re working with Orchard Park Community Council, and Histon and Impington Sustainability Group to have our roadside verges managed for wildlife as per Plantlife’s Road Verge Campaign and in Orchard Park also per our Habitats Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust BCN. We plan to undertake any necessary remedial practical management on the Wildflower Bank, to ensure it remains rich in species diversity. Grasses are beginning to encroach in some areas, and they might need to be removed, and the soil prepared for reseeding with pesticide free wildflower seeds.

We will run the management as community events, perhaps as part of an Orchard Park family fun environment day.

Thanks to Tim and Carol Inskipp of OPWP for their expertise with identifying all creatures great and small, Holly Freeman of OPWP for all planning and liaison with the school, Louise Bacon of CPERC for expertise in identifying invertebrates, Lush for the Charity Pot Party to advertise and fundraise for equipment for these activities, Education Services 2010 for their funding of the sign and tools, Orchard Park Community Council for altering the mowing schedule and collaboration with the sign, and last but not least Orchard Park Community Primary School for working with us on these and other projects.

 

 

A final word

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Due to unplanned but necessary travel in December, unfortunately the activity we had planned didn’t happen. Many thanks indeed to all we collaborated with in 2016 to put events on, to Lush and Inder’s Kitchen for funding us, to OP Community Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council for their support, and to everyone who came to events and took action to help wildlife. We will be drafting our activity plan for 2017 early next year, we are looking at forging new links with existing groups. Having heard him speak in the Summer in the university building named after him, I’ll leave the last word of 2016 to David Attenborough ……

Thanks again to Lush for a fun and batty time at the Charity Pot Party

Thanks again to @LushCambridge for a fun and batty time yesterday. We’re always so grateful for the support we get from Lush, we bought our bat detector with money raised by one of their Charity Pot Party fundraisers. This time we were promoting #WildAboutGardens week and encouraging folks to take a simple step to help bats. Lots of people agreed to do something this week – just look at the bat above covered in symbols each of which represents a pledge: to add a water feature, keep cats in at dusk, reduce lighting, go organic, make a bat home, provide a bug hotel, or add insect friendly plants.

For more info on how you can help bats see: Wild About Gardens Week Resources

 

Lush, Art, Apples, Wildlife Maps, & Bats. We’re planning our September/October Activities.

OP and map of areas for July activity

Sadly due to the imminent development of the site where the lizards are, we are unable to continue monitoring them as planned for August. We hope to be able to resume monitoring next year over at the balancing pond where at least part of the population are likely to be translocated to…

For September/October activities we are excited to be collaborating with North Cambridge resident artist Isabella Martin. We thank Karen Thomas of Kettle’s Yard for putting us in touch. We are planning to run an event over at the Orchard when the apples ripen where we’ll explore the Orchard habitat and creatively contribute to signage for the area. We hope to collaborate further to map Orchard Park’s habitats and species in an interactive and novel way – more info to come 🙂

From the Kettle’s Yard website:

YOU ARE HERE – Isabella Martin Artist in Residence 2016

Open House Artist-in-Residence, Isabella Martin, is working with local residents to explore the area and create a new map together in a project called You Are Here. Isabella will work with local groups to share stories and knowledge and develop creative skills to turn these stories into artworks. The artworks will be part of the alternative neighbourhood map. The map will show and celebrate what is unique about North Cambridge. You will find Isabella and her team of artists out and about, running art activities and collecting stories and thoughts about the neighbourhood. You Are Here has been inspired by Kettle’s Yard, celebrating all the individual and unique things which make a place special.

Isabella Martin is an artist who works with different materials to make work that interacts with specifc places and the stories they tell. Using drawing, performance, writing and sculpture, Isabella creates inventive, playful, outdoor artworks in collaboration with people to explore our relationship to the landscape in which we live.”

Lush Cambridge are also very kindly holding another Charity Pot Party fundraising event for us in late October. We’re very grateful to Lush for their ongoing support. We’ll be encouraging people to take part in this year’s Wild About Gardens Week – this year it focusses on bats. Apt, as a Lush Charity Pot Party funded our bat detector which we’ve used over at the Wildlife Area and around Orchard Park ^v^

Dates for events are being confirmed and will be announced soon.

How well do you know our spiny visitors?

how well do you know pages 2 and 3

Photo credit: Wild About Gardens Week

We’re now into day two of Wild About Gardens Week (26 October – 1 November) and what a soggy day it is. Still, it might encourage slugs, snails and worms out into our gardens for the hedgehogs, this year’s star of Wild About Gardens Week, so they can have a pre hibernation feast. To see how citizen science is informing us of hedgehog hibernation patterns see: hibernation report

Don’t forget to look in any bonfires you might be lighting for Halloween and Guy Fawkes night to check for wildlife. If you find an animal please make sure you move it a safe distance away.

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Photo credit: British Hedgehog Society on Twitter

Small creatures like piles of wood and leaves for shelter, so why not help them in your garden by providing a pile just for them? Other things we can do as recommended in the Wild About Gardens Week Hedgehog Handbook include:

1. Create ‘hedgehog highways’ in your fences to connect your gardens.

2. Provide an escape route out of ponds – ‘hogs are great swimmers but they struggle to climb out.

3. Create a variety of habitats e.g. ponds, hedges, log piles and compost heaps to attract food for the hedgehog.

4. Build a hedgehog home – give them somewhere to hunker down for the winter.

5. Let your grass grow wild (or even a section of it) to encourage the hedgehog’s prey. Check carefully before mowing or strimming areas.

6. Create nesting opportunities – leave wild areas for ‘hogs to hibernate.

7. Set up a feeding station offering hedgehog food or meaty pet food and water.

8. Tidy up – litter harms wildlife, and hedgehogs can also become entangled in garden netting.

9. Keep domestic drains covered, hedgehogs can fall into them and get stuck.

10. Check bonfires before lighting; ideally rebuild them on the day it is to be lit.

11. Keep your gardens green – paving and decking over gardens reduces hedgehog habitat.

These activities are most beneficial if we work together as a community. For the full text of the Wild About Gardens Hedgehog Handbook go to: Hedgehog Handbook

Orchard Park Wildlife Project will be in Lush, Lion Yard on Saturday 31 October from 12-4pm to give wildlife gardening tips. Come along and make a pledge to help our local wildlife, there’ll be wildlife colouring for children, and find out how to enter a photo competition to win hedgehog prizes – Royal Horticultural Society Hedgehog Photo Comp. Lush are also very kindly fundraising again for Orchard Park Wildlife Project – if you buy their Charity Pot on Saturday, proceeds will go towards equipment for Orchard Park Wildlife Project’s activities. We are very grateful to Lush once again for their generosity.