Summer Safari 2017

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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. 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).

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

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

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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.

 

Wildlife Awareness via an Artistic Lens, and Celebrating all things Apple

 

We had a great time on Saturday afternoon with Kettle’s Yard celebrating our orchard and its wildlife. Our tiny ‘Spartan’ apples are very cute. If we feed the trees and ensure they’re looked after properly we may be rewarded with larger crops in the future. Many thanks to Kate, Scott, Giovanna, and two Andrews for between them buying, washing, chopping, macerating and pressing apples, so we could appreciate fresh juice, and dealing with all the tidying up! Thanks are also due to Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project for lending us their equipment.

Many children enjoyed decorating tiles, with Karen Thomas from Kettle’s Yard and artist Rosanna Martin, to depict some of the 200 different types of animals and plants we’ve identified so far in the orchard and around Orchard Park. They will be fired and placed around Orchard Park as part of artist Isabella Martin’s ‘You Are Here’ project whilst she is artist in residence for North Cambridge. Thanks for letting us look at our wildlife through an artistic lens, and we look forward to the next phase 🙂

 

@LushCambridge Charity Pot Party 22/10/16 Going Batty for #WildAboutGardensWeek

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This year’s Wild About Gardens Week is 24-30 October 2016. It’s focussing on simple steps we can take to support bats and other wildlife. There are lots of things you can do right now to support wildlife in your garden or community green space. Come along to @LushCambridge on Saturday 22nd October to find out how you can help our local bats.

The lovely folks @LushCambridge are very generously holding another Charity Pot Party for Orchard Park Wildlife Project – so please consider buying a pot of the gorgeous smelling lotion that makes your skin silky smooth (like a bat’s wing?!?!). The proceeds will allow Orchard Park Wildlife Project to purchase the tools and equipment we need to run our free community events that aim to make Orchard Park better for wildlife and people.

We’ll have plenty of ideas so you can prepare for Wild About Gardens Week and find out about how you can help our local bats, and we’d like you to pledge to do something to help them during Wild About Gardens Week. There’ll be fun bat masks and bat puppets which you can decorate and in plenty of time for Halloween. We’ll show you how a bat detector works (Orchard Park Wildlife Project bought our detector with funds kindly raised by a Lush Charity Pot Party) and you can listen to bat calls. Lush staff will be looking a bit batty too!

From the Wild About Gardens Week Website:

“Wild About Gardens Week 2016 is a joint initiative by the RHS, The Wildlife Trusts and Bat Conservation Trust to encourage people to support wildlife in their gardens, with a focus on our UK bats. This is more important than ever. In 2013, wildlife researchers found that 60 percent of UK animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years. Among the variety of reasons for this is loss of habitat.

Many of our common garden species – bats, hedgehogs, house sparrows, and common frogs, for example – are becoming much less common. There are an estimated 15 million gardens in the UK. Together they cover a greater area than all the National nature reserves! By making our own gardens and local green spaces more wildlife-friendly, we can help support a wide range of species.”

For information on threats to bats in the UK see the Bat Conservation Trust page: why bats are declining.

We hope to see you there – do come along and say hello 🙂

Hedgehog Gardens: Histon, Impington and Orchard Park launched on Saturday

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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.

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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.

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

Getting Batty about Bats again. Let’s Detect NEW DATE: 1 July 8.30pm

Pipistrellus_pipistrellus_lateral ccCommon Pipistrelle Photo by: Mnolf Location: Kauns, Tirol, Austria Date: 10.06.2005. Creative Commons.

Last year, we confirmed presence of Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) foraging at Orchard Park. We suspect we might have Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) foraging here too, as other bats were seen but not heard using the detector set to the frequency for Common Pipistrelle.

We detect bats using detectors which lower their high frequency calls inaudible to human ears – the frequency is dependent on the species of bat – to a lower frequency which we can hear.

Many thanks to #LushCambridge for their Charity Pot events which funded our bat detector.

The south edge of the long thin strip of Wildlife Area which runs parallel to the A14 embankment, and is to the north of the sports field, is ideal for insects around dusk, and so the bats go there to feed.

For a video about bats from the British Mammal Society, click here (this is a link to their videos on Facebook).

Due to poor weather on the 24th, this event has now been rescheduled for Friday 1st July – meet at the Wildlife Area, end of Ring Fort Road, CB4 (opposite Premier Inn) at 8.30pm with a blanket and some warm clothes, so you’re prepared to wait. Maybe a flask of tea if it’s a bit chilly. The bats come out at different times depending on the light and temperature.

We’ll show you how the detector works, have some recordings of UK bat species to play, show some pictures of UK species, and provide information on how you can help bats. If we’ve seen evidence of bats using the bat boxes in the week or so leading up to the event, we will try to film them. Please note: although the image shows a bat being handled, we won’t be handling them as a special licence is required, and it would be against the law.

This is a free, accessible event, for all ages and abilities.

 

Draft Activity Plan for 2016

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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:

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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 🙂

 

How well do you know our spiny visitors?

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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.