Summer Safari 2017

SS17 poster

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

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Sowing Seeds

 

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Photo credit: Andrew Chan. Seeds sown at the Youth Group event

Last Thursday Andrew Chan from Orchard Park Community Council showed members of the Youth Group how to set up self watering pots to sow seeds. Sunflowers, and wildflowers for pollinators were planted, along with cucumber and sweetcorn for people.

Once the seeds are sprouting, they’ll be moved to the new raised beds which will be installed at the Orchard Community Centre soon. We hope lots of locals will get involved with tending the beds which will grow flowers and food plants. We’ve had funding kindly donated for the beds by the Orchard Park Community Council, tools we need to look after them by Education Services 2010 and Young People’s Workers from the Council are leading the activities.

Over the summer we will be doing a series of sessions to create a home for pollinators, and to make and plant the raised beds. We’d really like you to join us if you’re aged between 10 and 17 years old at the following sessions at the Orchard Community Centre:

Monday 31st July from 2pm to 4pm – Making a Bug Hotel

Thursday 17th August from 3.30pm to 5pm – creating and painting the beds

Thursday 24th August from 3.30pm to 5pm – creating and planting the beds

In the meantime for folks of any age, do get in touch if you’d like to help, learn, or have gardening knowledge to share 🙂

Bees and butterflies are declining due to habitat loss amongst other reasons, so it is important to do whatever we can to help. Click the link below to see a video on pollinators by Butterfly Conservation Plant Pots for Pollinators Video from Butterfly Conservation.

Screen grab pot for pollinators BC

Screen grab, Butterfly Conservation Website, Plant a Pot for Pollinators video.

Using things like yoghurt pots is great way to repurpose, and these self watering planters provide everything the seeds need to get going. Coir dehydrated compost disks were rehydrated, a wick made from kitchen cloth was threaded through the holes in the small plant pot, and a few centimetres of water put in the bottom of the yoghurt pot – the kitchen cloth pulls the water into the pot to water the seedling. Coir dehydrated compost is an environmentally friendly choice because it is peat free (see why go peat free) for more info on coir see: Eden Communities Gardening

self watering seed starter

Adapted from modsprout.com

 

 

#GreatBigWalk Walker’s reception at Nightingale Park last night

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Wildlife Pond at Nightingale Garden

Wildlife Pond at Nightingale Garden Photo credit: http://www.nightingalegarden.org.uk

Last night around 30 people, mainly from Nightingale Volunteer Gardeners, assembled to meet and greet the team doing the Eden Project’s #GreatBigWalk. The walkers are winding their way through the UK heading home and working up an appetite in time for the #GreatBigLunch. Eden Communities aims to “connect people and communities, encouraging everyday people to make positive change where they live.” There certainly was a lot of good community spirit, as well as delicious home made food, in the amazing garden, not far from Addenbrookes @CB1 8SQ, last night. I’m sure Orchard Park Wildlife Project ‘up north’ can learn a thing or two about as we embark with our Community Council on our raised beds and community gardening journey. Nightingale Garden has a wildlife pond, lots of lovely wildflowers as well as food plants.

Nightingale Volunteer Gardeners are a “community gardening group for RHS-affiliated Queen Edith’s in Bloom”. Anyone ‘down south’ wishing to join them, or willing to travel down south, they meet Sunday and Monday afternoons 2-4, with ‘Gardeners tea at 3’, you can go along for however long you like. For information see: www.nightingalegarden.org.uk or contact Rebecca (volunteer) 07792 531 400.

 

 

Conservation Optimism Summit 20-22 April 2017, Cambridge Wild and OPWP at ‘Going Wild Solutions Fair’

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Adapted from the Cambridge Conservation Forum website: Conservation is too often seen as a crisis discipline, and one in which bad news dominates. Although we are facing huge challenges, there are many positive stories where conservation and other sectors have made a difference to people’s lives and to the status of wild nature.

A summit which will reframe the conservation movement by celebrating positive thinking in conservation, and putting forward a road map for change towards an optimistic and forward-thinking future begins today.

Lasting 3 days in all, with two days at Dulwich College in Oxford and then one day at ZSL London Zoo, a twin event is also taking place in Cambridge hosted by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative focussing on public outreach and citizen engagement. The summit is part of a global launch to further promote the #Earthoptimism network.

Organisers really want as many people to participate in this event as possible, from academics to students, people working in the arts, to people from the business and public policy sectors who want to promote all the great work that is being done to support nature.

Orchard Park Wildlife Project will be at the David Attenborough Building, Pembroke St, Cambridge, on Saturday from 11.00 as part of the Cambridge Wild network in the ‘Walk on the wild side – connecting people to nature’ part of Going Wild Solutions Fair.

The Fair is divided into four themes, each of which addresses an aspect of daily life. Within each theme visitors will be able to take part in activities relating to that theme, ask questions, and pledge to make positive changes in their lives.

There no advanced booking for the Solutions Fair: everyone is welcome, so please come along to immerse yourself in what promises to be an uplifting, inspirational and action-packed day.

Buying Smart: reuse, recycle and repair

In this zone visitors will be able to bring clothes to swap, take a fresh look at recycling, learn where their purchases come from, and what the real price of plastic is. This zone will also include a free repair café, so visitors are encouraged to bring their broken bits and pieces, giving these items a second chance and preventing them from ending up in landfill. Stallholders include Amey Cespa, M&S, Circular Cambridge, Pukka Herbs, TRAFFIC, John Lewis, FSC, RSPB, Fauna & Flora International, and Cambridge Repair Café.

Bright Ideas: lowering your carbon footprint

Here visitors will be able to learn how to tread lightly by lowering their carbon footprint through, for example, green energy and sustainable travel, as well as carbon offsetting. Stallholders include Cambridge Carbon Footprint, World Land Trust, Cool Earth, and Transition Cambridge.

Eating Well: learning about a sustainable diet 

This theme aims to dispel the myths around food and the environment, and gets to the nitty gritty of what a sustainable diet really is. Stallholders include Marine Conservation Society, WOUP, Cambridge Food Cycle, WRAP, Cambridge Sustainable Food, Hodmedods, and Hotel Chocolat.

In the Going Wild theme, visitors will see how easy it is to get into nature and what they can do to help wildlife, from hedgehogs to bees. Stallholders include National Trust, Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts, British Ecological Society, Cambridge Wild, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Cambridge Botanic Garden, Roots & Shoots, and Brighton high school.

In addition to the four themes, the top floor of the David Attenborough Building will be given over to the environment and the arts, with poetry readings, writing workshops, bird therapy and more, providing the perfect space to come and relax during the #EarthOptimism Solutions Fair.

The Solutions Fair runs concurrently with the Stories of Hope programme in the Babbage Lecture Theatre on the same day.

Cambridge Wild

From the Cambridge Wild website:

CambridgeWild: www.cambridgewild.org.uk
We are also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cambridgewild.

What is Cambridge Wild?

  • programme of wild places – and wildlife-related events in July in Cambridge. We especially like them to be free to access for all ages and abilities. We don’t currently have any funds to support these but can help promote them and, maybe, find extra volunteers (see below).
  • An informal network of people and groups interested in wild spaces, wildlife and how people interact with them – we are based in and around Cambridge and most of us are volunteers (see below).
  • portal to other resources (see below). Two-page summary list to print.

Programme of events in July 2017

We are still working on this but might have a bit of a ‘pollinator’ focus this year. In the meantime, this is what we have gathered:

  • Cambridge Botanic Garden are working on their summer events programme now
  • Cambridge Natural History Society – have a visit to Wandlebury on 5 July and a Field study at Coldham’s Common on 20 July (events page)
  • Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook will do one or more nature walk(s) along the brook (dates to be arranged)
  • Nightingale garden – we hope to do a bat walk and overnight moth trap  (probably Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July) and maybe some other mini-beast hunting, tree trail or pond-related activities. We might do something at Wulfstan Way shops too – depending on how the new raingardens are doing.
  • Orchard Park – will do a wildlife safari (8 July – activities page)
  • Wildlife Trust – Cambridge Local GroupEast Pit glow-worm survey – Weds 26 July from 10.15pm
  • Wildlife Trust around Cambridge are working on their June+ events programme at the moment
  • Wildlife Trust and ScudamoresBat punt safaris – Friday evenings from May to September (really good!). There is a charge for this but it benefits the Trust.

Meet the locals, give a bird family a home and contribute to conservation, whilst improving your own wellbeing

 

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Come along to Unwin Square, in front of the shops, on 1st April from 10.00-14.00. Orchard Park Community Council are organising an Easter Fun Day, click here for more information via the OPCC Facebook page. It’s a great chance to meet local folks, or to come along with your neighbours if you already know them.

Orchard Park Community Council have very kindly offered to cover the costs of some nest box kits (donations are welcome to help recoup some of their costs) which you can decorate and place in your garden, next to your window or balcony, to provide homes for our feathered friends. These boxes are most likely to attract birds from the Tit family (Paridae). They’re gorgeous and energetic little things, a joy to watch in the garden.

As mentioned previously, watching birds has been proven to improve our health and wellbeing. One study by the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and University of Queensland, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

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Blue tit, Orchard Park garden winter 2012

We can help you to find a suitable place to put your nest box up and let you know which birds you’re likely to see in your garden. Although many birds will have already started nesting, it’s not unusual for them to change nests for a second clutch, and if you’re not in time for them this year, there’s always next.

More information on nest boxes from the Gardenature website:

When is the latest time to put up a nest box in the season?

Garden birds generally start breeding around mid February, ideally you should have put a nest box in place by the end of Feb beginning of March. This said, we have known bird boxes to be put up in April that have had successful results.

When and how do I clean out the nest box ?

The nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites, these can remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year. We recommend that old nests be removed from August onwards or once you are certain the birds have stopped using the box.

Use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites, and let the box dry out thoroughly before replacing the front or top panels. Insecticides and flea powders must not be used.

How do I position my nest box ?

There are a number of guidelines you can follow to help maximise your chances of birds using a nest box.
It is highly recommended that you face the nest box between North and East. What is important is that you do not face the hole towards the prevailing wind as this will almost certainly mean that rain will get into the box in wet and windy weather. Try to avoid placing a nest box where there will be prolonged exposure to sunlight as overheating inside the box can sometimes result in heat stress to the chicks.
Placing a nest box in close proximity to a feeding device or feeding station may well put off birds from nesting in the box. Most nesting birds are highly territorial and do not like intruders on their territory. Either remove feeders just before and during the breeding season or place the nest box well away from the feeding station.
Make sure that the birds have a clear flight path to the nest box without any clutter directly in front of the entrance. Tilt the box forward slightly so that any driving rain will hit the roof and bounce clear.
To attract Blue Tits, Great Tits etc, ideally your nest box should be fixed two to five metres up a tree or wall to prevent predators such as cats reaching them.
Open-fronted boxes for robins and wrens need to be low down, below 2m, well hidden in vegetation. Those for spotted flycatchers need to be 2-4m high, sheltered by vegetation but with a clear outlook. Woodpecker boxes need to be 3-5m high on a tree trunk with a clear flight path and away from disturbance.
There are several methods for attaching your nest box to a tree. If using a nail try to make sure it is an aluminium one as this will cause the least damage to the tree and pose less of a hazard at a later date if the tree is cut down or trimmed using a chainsaw. Alternatively boxes can be attached with garden wire around the trunk or branch. Holes can be drilled on either side of the bird box roof to help do this. Use a piece of garden hose or similar around the wire to prevent damage to the tree.”
Also see the BTO Website.
Why do we need to provide birds with nest boxes?
From the BTO (see their website for additional information): “Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.”
Benefits of nest boxes 
Adapted from the BTO: “Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, providing a nest box gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.”
If you’re really keen you can monitor the box and provide feedback to OPWP and the BTO: https://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/monitor

State of Nature 2016

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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.

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

Robin singing at Topper St play area

imageYesterday I went to Topper St play area to have a look at where a mature tree had been cut down. We think it was an Ash, probably affected by Ash die back. A real shame as mature trees are few and far between in OP.

At the other end of the play area, a Robin was singing loudly. I stayed under the tree for about ten minutes whilst I marvelled at how this tiny bird could belt out its song so loudly and beautifully. The traffic noise was drowned out and the only other loud sound was another bird singing. A little bit of bird therapy 🙂

The sound and pictures are not of great quality as I recorded them on my phone.

Audio / video Robin singing

 

 

Walking with wildlife is good for your brain :)

From the Washington Post “In the past several months, a bevy of studies have added to a growing literature on the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors. That includes recent research showing that short micro-breaks spent looking at a nature scene have a rejuvenating effect on the brain — boosting levels of attention — and also that kids who attend schools featuring more greenery fare better on cognitive tests.”

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Join us in the evening of 21st July (details available shortly) to look at our urban wildlife and habitats, identify moths, and look out for bats. We’re by no means in the wild, but we do have wildlife!

The event will be free, and suitable for all ages and abilities.

For the full Washington Post article informing of all the benefits of time with nature see:

Full article walking with wildlife is good for your brain