The issue of muddy pathways at Paradise nature reserve has caused many a soggy pair of shoes. This week the matter was tackled by installing a slightly raised new path way. This new pathway spanned one of the worst muddy stretches in the reserve.

Hopefully it will also serve to reduce the sideways spreading of the original path which was compromising the chosen growing area of the Butterbur (Petasites). Records of this plant’s presence on the site date back to the sixteen hundreds and it’s continued presence is highly desired!

Problems began with the original route when people attempting to avoid the muddy areas ended up walking on the Butterbur, particularly damaging when only the flower spikes are showing.  The new path will hopefully end the need to ‘off road’ and the Butterbur can spread and prosper.

This pathway was made with the help of the Community Payback Team which was whole heartedly appreciated.

 

More marginal plants were being planted at Cherry Hinton hall pond by the Saturday volunteer group.

With all the major work finished at the pond it’s now possible to get in there and make the final important smaller touches.Such as; extra plants to really boost the vegetation at the bank sides, creating woodland pathways, laying woodchips and generally having a good tidy up. All of this is helping to restore and enhance this beautiful site.

 

The Saturday volunteer group worked very hard installing a ‘Brushwood mattress’ at The Rush stream on Sheep’s Green. The idea is that the brushwood collects passing silt and by doing so creates a narrowing of the channel. This narrowing increases the flow of water which in turn creates a faster more dynamic section of the stream, keeping the bottom gravel clear and oxygenating the water. Vegetation soon grows through the mattress helping to hold it all in place and offering an added habitat and shelter for fish and invertebrates.

If you are interested in joining the volunteers email: parks@cambridge.gov.uk for further information.

Take a walk to Sheep’s Green and listen out for the unfamiliar sound of rushing water. This is due to the completion of a very exciting new project which has transformed a heavily silted water course in to something very special. Previously the slow-moving watercourse met the river at a seized sluice gate which provided no upward access to the river for fish species. Barriers to fish within a stream or river have a very negative impact on that ecosystem. The Rush project will turn this a round. The change in level between the upper river and the mill pool will be gradually lost in a series of ramps and pools that allow the fish to travel upstream but also to shelter and feed. The increased flow will expose gravel for spawning and create a suitable habitat for many aquatic invertebrates.
As aquatic and marginal vegetation grows the look of the stream will soften and naturalize. Species such as Minnows, Chubb, Dace and hopefully Brown trout along with a multitude of other native species will find a healthy oxygenated watercourse to thrive in.
To have this interesting and varied habitat in such close proximity to the city is wonderful. It is valuable to people as well as nature. It is something which everyone can enjoy and watch develop

As spring slowly brings our nature reserves to life you may spot these tiny mounds of earth in the grass or on patches of  bare earth. They are the nests of the Tawny Mining bee which build their nests at this time of year. The nest consists of a vertical shaft 8-12 inches long with several brood cells branching off. The female fills each cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen on which she lays one egg. The larvae quickly develops and begins pupating, to emerge as an adult the following spring.

This all sounds like a good plan however we are not the only ones who notice these nests! Bee flies are notorious for flying over the nests and flicking their own eggs in to the entrance. These eggs then develop into maggot like larvae which wriggle in to the prepared cells to continue developing in comfort. Cuckoo bees, Nomad bees and many solitary wasps have also developed strategies to exploit the Tawny mining bees nest sites. The picture was taken Barnwell West nature reserve.