Autumn is arguably the best time of year, beautiful trees, frosty mornings and yes, spider webs in the face!

It’s an integral part of the autumn experience feeling the silk sticking to your hair and face, not sure if you have really removed it all, is the spider somewhere???

But why is autumn such a ‘spidery’ time of year?

Most spider species have been growing all summer and are now larger and more visible in our gardens and parks.  Many species are reaching the end of their life span, they have matured, mated and now their spiderlings are hatching out. The gossamer the baby spiders produce to help with dispersal can be visible too, catching the light on a bright day. This process is known as ballooning. The baby spider ( or an individual from a  small species of spider) climb to a high point and release the silk threads from their spinnerets, the threads act like a sail and allow the spiders to be carried great distances. Fantastic!

Image: Araneus diadematus. Garden Orb-web spider

Staff from Cambridge Water volunteered for the day to carry out some scrub removal at 9 Wells nature reserve. As part of the company’s CSR programme they were keen to work on a site which has natural springs and waterways. A different kind of watery situation than perhaps they are normally used to but one which they adapted to very well!

If you work for a company which enjoy CSR days and are looking for a project do get in touch:

parks@cambridge.gov.uk

If you get a chance now is a great time to go butterfly spotting on our local nature reserves. A good three to learn and try to distinguish between are Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gate Keeper. All can be found in similar habitats and can be easy to confuse. Check for them on Coldham’s Common in the grass and on the bramble blossoms. Also look out for wonderful hover fly action and of course our beloved bees busy at work.

Conservation volunteering on our beautiful local nature reserves is a great way to learn more about your natural environment, get fit and meet like-minded people, to name  just a few plus points!  At the moment we have two opportunities to volunteer. Once a week on a Thursday 10am -2:30pm or once a month on a Saturday morning 10am – 1pm. We undertake conservation work on projects around the city on our nature reserves. Learn such skills as hedge laying, coppicing, fencing and pond management. Volunteer just for fun or use as a work experience example on a CV.

If you think you might be interested email: parks@cambridge.gov.uk for more information.

The improvements made on Cherry Hinton Brook recently have enhanced the visual appearance of the brook, especially the section by Sainsbury’s, but what effect has it had for the flora and fauna living in it?

A monitoring project has begun to provide important baseline and trend data that may be able answer this question and help to guide future conservation work on the stream.

Some of the Saturday volunteers have undertaken this venture to test the water quality and health of the aquatic life in the stream since the flow deflectors were installed. Using techniques developed by the Anglers’ Riverfly project and a water sensor device called an Aquaread, the group have been collecting this valuable data on a monthly basis.

The aim is to gather a comprehensive record throughout the year of indicator species present and water quality which can serve as a basis for comparison with subsequent  and previous data collection.

Hopefully the data will show rapid improvements for the stream’s overall health due to the increased flow and improved light levels.

If you are interested in this project and becoming more familiar with your local stream and what lives in it please do get involved. Email: parks@cambridge.gov.uk for more information.