Litter Pick at the Wildlife Area

Poster created by OPCC

Poster created by Orchard Park Community Council

Join us on 17 February at 10:00–14:00 to tidy up the Wildlife Area, Ring Fort Road, near the sports ground. As OPWP has informed on many occasions (see links below), litter is very dangerous to our wildlife. Please come along, even if you can spare just ten minutes, every single can/bag/bottle that is removed is helpful to our local wildlife. Being in the Wildlife Area, volunteering, and gentle exercise is good for you too 🙂 We hope to see you there.

Yet again, disgusting levels of litter at the Wildlife Area and balancing pond

Litter 😦

Successful litter pick

Litter at the Wildlife Area

 

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Next event at the Orchard – Saturday 29 October 2016 1-4pm

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Our next event will be in the Orchard, behind the sports ground on Ring Fort Rd (see map) on Saturday 29th October 2016 1-4pm. We’ll be working with artists from Kettle’s Yard to explore our place and wildlife.

Create your own ceramic signs which celebrate the amazing variety of apples growing Orchard Park.  The signs and labels will be left in the Orchard area permanently to help visitor identify the apples growing and find out about them. They will also form part of You Are Here, a new map of North Cambridge being created by Open House artist in residence, Isabella Martin.

We’ll have an apple press on loan from Histon and Impington Community Orchard Project and Inder’s Kitchen will be there making apple chutney.

More details will follow soon.

New Networks for Nature #NatureMatters16 @networks4nature

 

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David Attenborough gives the closing speech at the New Networks for Nature Conference 24 September 2016 Cambridge University David Attenborough Building

On Saturday I was pleased to be living in Cambridge so I could go to the New Networks for Nature event at the University in the David Attenborough Building. We discussed how we can use technology, collaborate to help wildlife locally, and internationally, and in a workshop we explored barriers to involvement and what we can do to overcome them.  The event looked at the science of wildlife decline to some extent, but also had a major focus on how writers, painters, and artists can use their skills for the benefit of wildlife. David Attenborough discussed the beginning of the conservation movement and how it has evolved to its present form, stating that with the current networks, we’re now in a better position to enact positive effects than we ever have been…. I hope he’s right and that we will all do our bit, we can think globally and act locally.

State of Nature 2016

goldfinch-bamboo

Goldfinch Orchard Park garden. Thankfully a bird with an increasing population according to BTO reports.

The report and findings

The first State of Nature report released in 2013 revealed the severe loss of nature that has occurred in the UK since the 1960s. Last week, the 2016 follow on report was released (see: State of Nature 2016 full report pdf).

Amongst other headlines, this one stood out as a point that is perhaps surprising to some – often declines in wildlife are thought of as happening overseas, not on our doorstep:

A new measure that assesses how intact a country’s biodiversity is, suggests that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average. The index suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

7% of urban species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain.” (State of Nature 2016 p.40).

The causes for such decline include policy-driven agricultural change as by far the most significant driver, and climate change as one of the greatest long-term threats to nature globally. Other factors driving decline such as loss of green space including parks, allotments and gardens, and loss of habitats such as wildlife rich brownfield sites to development, are things that we can witness right here in Orchard Park. Many gardens here are paved over with little to help wildlife, we have no allotments, the sports field seems sterile, the Wildlife Area seems tiny, whilst the remaining established, large grassland site which is rich in invertebrates, birds, and lizards, is due for commercial development.

Why is this important?

We have a moral obligation to save nature and this is a view shared by the millions of supporters of conservation organisations across the UK. Not only that, we must save nature for our own sake, as it provides us with essential and irreplaceable benefits that support our welfare and livelihoods.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

Two recent research projects have now built on … methodology to understand children’s connection to nature in more detail…children who are more connected to nature rate their health and well-being as significantly higher.” (State of Nature 2016 p.67).

What can we do?

 Whilst as individuals and families we might feel powerless to do anything about, for example, farming practices, we can be effective at a local level.

…organisations, businesses, communities and individuals have worked together to bring nature back…We are fortunate that the UK has thousands of dedicated and expert volunteers recording wildlife. It is largely thanks to their efforts, and the role of the organisations supporting them, that we are able to chart how our nature is faring.” (State of Nature 2016 p.6).

Taken collectively, there is increasing evidence that citizen science is playing a central role in recruiting and training the next generation of nature enthusiasts; communicating the beauty and relevance of the UK’s wildlife to wide sectors of UK society; and catalysing positive attitudes and behaviours towards nature. In the face of growing concerns about a decline in taxonomic expertise and a disconnect from nature amongst the UK’s population, this involvement in citizen science gives real cause for optimism.” (State of Nature 2016 p.69).

Orchard Park Wildlife Project sends its species records to Cambridge and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre to add to their regional assessments of our wildlife. You can help by joining in our Summer Safaris and being a Citizen Scientist – reporting bee, butterfly and bird sightings using links to campaigns promoted via the Orchard Park Wildlife Project blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed and letting us know about anything unusual that you see.

You can do your bit in your garden/balcony/window box by creating a pond, feeding the birds, building a log pile and adding wildlife friendly plants.

You can help keep the Wildlife Area tidy, manage our Wildflower Bank, help at the Orchard, or keep basking sites clear for reptiles at the Balancing Pond.

Every little helps. See: Wildlife Trust page for more ideas.

We hope some of our upcoming activities will tempt you to come along and inspire you to do your bit for your nature if we’ve not managed to reach you already. We’re working on an approach to an event for information at the Orchard with local resident artists, which we hope will attract new people – more about that soon. I’m attending a Network for Nature event on Saturday, it’s at the David Attenborough Building in Downing St which houses Cambridge Conservation Initiative (focussing on international conservation) and Cambridge Conservation Forum (focussing on local conservation, Orchard Park Wildlife Project is a member). The closing speech is scheduled to be given by the building’s namesake himself, and I hope and expect that he will be very inspiring indeed.

Help for Hot Birds and Other Wildlife

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Dunnock Orchard Park garden spreading its feathers and panting to cool down

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.

 

 

 

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.

Juvenile Goldfinches

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Two fledgling Goldfinches with parent showing red face mask and special Nyjer seed feeder. Photo was taken through the window, so not top quality.

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Fledgling Goldfinches, Orchard Park garden, showing their bright wings. They don’t yet have the red face masks of the adults.

Goldfinch video from RSPB

Goldfinch call

On Sunday I spent an hour or two watching the to-ings and fro-ings of four Goldfinches, three juveniles, and their parent. It’s gratifying to see the adults that have fed in my garden bringing their offspring to feed. The juvenile fledglings still dependent on their parents pleaded urgently for food through wing-fluttering and loud begging notes. By this age they look as though they weigh as much as, or more than, their parent ( for more information see: Smith 1980 ). After being fed, one of the youngsters felt comfortable enough to sleep.

Goldfinches can be seen easily in Orchard Park, they move around in groups drawing attention to themselves through their liquid twittering call. Wild food includes teasels and thistles, but in the garden they’ll take Nyjer seed and Sunflower hearts, both requiring a specialist feeder. It’s worth it to put food out for them and to be patient, as you’ll be rewarded by seeing this highly coloured bird up close, and hearing their lovely twittering song.

Goldfinch information from the RSPB

 

Photographs from the Summer Safari

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Essex Skipper. Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

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White-tailed/Buff-tailed Bumblebee (only the queens can be ID’d to species). Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

 

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Black Clock Beetle. Photo credit: Carol Inskipp

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 🙂

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi

Rosis, Hérault, FRANCE By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Convolvulus Hawk-moth. Photo credit: Tony Morris. Image unchanged and used under Creative Commons Licensing

 

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Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) near Hamburg, Germany. Date 17 July 2009
Author: Quartl. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

 

swallow tail moth

External link

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.

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

 

Big Butterfly Count and Busy Weekend for Orchard Park Wildlife Project

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OPWP has a busy weekend coming up. We’ll be at the Orchard Park Summer Fiesta tomorrow, Saturday 16th July 2016 from 2.00pm – 5.00pm at the Sports Ground, come along and say hello. There’ll be another opportunity to play wildlife bingo – look for our local wildlife and let us know what you see – for your chance to win a filled bird seed feeder. Bring a print out of the wildlife bingo card if you can, if not, we’ll have a limited number of printed cards. You can also make a recycled plant pot and plant some wild flower seeds, as well as decorating dishes for birds and bees to drink from, or do some wildlife colouring.

On Sunday 17th July we’ll be at the first ever Wild South Cambs Zone at Milton Country Park’s Parklife. Don’t forget today is the final chance for you to enter the Wild South Cambs Young Photographer of the Year Competition. Click here for ideas on photographing Orchard Park’s wildlife. As well as wildlife activities for children, we’ll be promoting Butterfly Conservation‘s Big Butterfly Count on Sunday – everyone who takes part will be in with a chance of winning a butterfly feeder. You can download the app for android here, or iOS here. We will also have a limited number of spotter sheets printed out for you to use if you don’t have access to the app and/or a computer. The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment. Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather – let’s hope the sun shines at the Country Park on Sunday. Click here to watch a video about the Big Butterfly Count.

On Sunday evening we’re having our second Orchard Park Summer Safari. You’ll be surprised to see what lives here if you look. Meet at the Travelodge Hotel, Chieftain Way, CB4 2WR at 7.30pm.

If you can’t make any of the events, you can still join in and have a wild time by taking part in the Big Butterfly Count –  just do your 15 minute count on a day you choose from today (15th July) to 7th August – do let us know what you see, we look forward to hearing from you 🙂