A recent partnership with CPARG (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough amphibian and Reptile group) has reaped some invaluable pond improvements for the city’s nature reserves. Working firstly at Barnwell East pond, as this is one of the city’s most important common toad breeding sites, the volunteers removed overhanging willow and created a large hibernaculum. CPARG are planning to survey the site this coming spring to get an idea of toad numbers. Next to receive some attention were the ephemeral ponds located at the back of Stourbridge Common. The Friends of Stourbridge Common also pitched in offering some important local knowledge about the ponds and associated fauna. These precious seasonal ponds are a welcome haven for our toads but also popular with grass snakes and smooth newts. Finally the pond at Logan’s Meadow reserve was looked at and it’s drainage problems hopefully solved. If the levels of water can be a little more sustained we may see smooth newts breeding there this spring.

If you are interested in doing some volunteering for CPARG or Friends of Stourbridge Common their details are as follows:

CPARG:

candparg@googlemail.com

www.facebook.com/groups/CPARG/

Friends of Stourbridge Common:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=193283709830&ref=ts

General advice for Amphibians and Reptiles:

http://www.froglife.org/advice/FAQs/index.htm

http://www.arc-trust.org/advice/

 

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.