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.

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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

Wild South Cambs – Young Photographer of the Year at Parklife, Milton Country Park

Orchard Park Wildlife Project has been asked to take part in this year’s Wild South Cambs Zone (the first ever) at Parklife, Milton Country Park on Sunday 17th July 10.00am-6.00pm. Visitors can get hands on, with nest box and bug house building, pond dipping and den building amongst other wildlife activities.

As part of this: don’t miss your chance to be named Wild South Cambs – Young Photographer of the Year. You could take photos of Orchard Park’s gorgeous little lizards, colourful goldfinches, invertebrates, or the wild flower bank when it’s in full bloom.

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Full details from the organiser’s website:

There’s a fantastic prize of a £200 voucher, kindly donated by Milton Tesco, (which could be spent on photographic equipment), for our winners village college.

We are looking for high quality digital images of the beautiful countryside to be found in South Cambridgeshire. Your image could capture animal or plant life, in close up or in landscape and can be orientated in landscape or portrait.

The competition is open to young people aged 11-18. You can send your images (up to three per entrant, each not less than 1MG in size) to the following mailbox, partnerships@scambs.gov.uk, putting Photographic Competition into the subject line.

Please include the following details: Your name, age, contact details and the date and location the photo was taken, plus the name of your school or college (including staff member contact details).

Selected images will be displayed on our website/Facebook and may be reproduced in district council publications. In entering your images you are agreeing to their reproduction by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The shortlisted images may also be displayed in store at Milton Tesco.

We are fortunate to have contributor to the Guardian’s Country Diary column, Derek Niemann, and experienced photographer Sarah Niemann as our competition judges.

The competition will close on Friday 15 July and the winner will be announced at Parklife, our free family fun day to be held at Milton Country Park on Sunday 17 July.

Parklife offers the chance to try a host of outdoor activities, from paddle boaring, canoeing and fishing, to cycling, climbing and cricket, with many more besides.

This year Parklife features a new, Wild South Cambs Zone, showcasing the conservation work underway across the district and featuring crafts using natural materials, pond dipping and tracts of wildflower meadows. Sponsored by Domino, the Wild South Cambs zone will help families get closer to nature.

More details can be found about the event on our Parklife 2016 pages.

For some tips on wildlife photography from the Guardian, click here, or contact Orchard Park Wildlife Project to help you locate our local wildlife.

Activities for International Insect Week

 

Wild flowers, a great way to attract insects to your garden

Wild flowers, a great way to attract insects to your garden

Activities for International Insect Week Click the link for info from the RHS on attracting wildlife to your garden.

This week is National Insect Week. From the RHS: Over the past 50 years declines have been noted in many groups of British insects, including those that visit flowers. These include some common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees.

Gardens are very important for insects. If a few of us in OP can make our gardens more friendly for insects, together, their contribution can be significant. We’ll be promoting more wildlife gardening ideas with help from the Wildlife Trust soon.

 

Good news, and bad….

Seedlings sprouting

Seedlings sprouting

The seeds planted on 12th April have been watered by the April showers, and are now growing into seedlings. The cover looks pretty good, so there should be a great and colourful display soon. They’ll be attractive to us, and to bees and other insects too. I look forward to seeing them in bloom.

However, sadly, yet again there is a litter problem in the area. The bin was almost empty this morning so that is not an excuse for leaving litter strewn around. Click on the play button on the video below to see what some of the planted area and the area behind the seedlings looks like.

Pictures from event on 12th April

Thanks so much to everyone who came along on the 12th. The weather stayed fine. The seeds and plants were all planted. The seeds have been watered and are germinating. I’ll post more pictures as they grow 🙂 The litter pick made a huge difference, but sadly rubbish remains a problem at the Wildlife Area and adjacent facilities. We hope to see more of you at upcoming events.

With litter pickers and tools at the start of the event

With litter pickers and tools at the start of the event

Preparing ground for wildflower seeds

Preparing ground for wildflower seeds

Seeds "Nature's Haven"

Seeds “Nature’s Haven”

Seed mix

Seed mix

measuring out the seeds to ensure they were sown at the correct density

measuring out the seeds to ensure they were sown at the correct density

sowing the seeds

sowing the seeds

planting and tidy up in the Wildlife Area

planting and tidy up in the Wildlife Area

Cowslips

cowslipsThe cowslips on the bank near the school will soon be gone due to ongoing management of that habitat. Here’s some information about cowslips from the Wildlife Trust so you know more about the yellow flowers next time you see them.

From Wildlife Trust Facebook Page: Cowslip. An early spring flower now popping up in open grassland habitats. Popular in English folklore and tradition, cowslip is scattered on church paths for weddings and tied into wreaths for May Day. Their name allegedly derives from the term ‘cowslups’, meaning cowpat, as the plant was often found to flower where a cow had left its business. Old names include Herb Peter and Lady’s Keys.

Sadly, habitat loss -as a result of agriculture advancement -has caused great population declines across many parts of Britain, making their bright yellow nodding heads a now rarer sight.

Next wildlife area activity, open to all, 12th April..

A reminder about the wildlife event this weekend. We’d love to see you there, come rain or shine, for however long you’re available. Please note in case of very bad weather, the event may be shortened. We’ll have tools available, but if you have a spade and/or trowel that you could bring along, that would be helpful. It will be a fun and informative event.

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