March is nearly over and it’s been quite a month!
In the natural world it’s still business as usual. Or should that be bees-ness as usual?!
It would be hard to not spot our beautiful queen bees, freshly emerging, out foraging and looking for a good nesting site.
On the reserves an impressive species count has been clocking up. So far 7 different species of bumblebee have been recorded. See these great pics. If you’re looking for a good home school project, bee spotting could bee one!
Early Bumblebee (B.pratorum)
Red-tailed Bumblebee (B.lapidarus)
Vestal Cuckoo Bee (B.vestalis)
Tree Bumblebee (B.hyporum)
All photos supplied by Clare Wallace and taken at Bramblefields Nature Reserve.
One of the main reasons hedgehogs are declining in our towns is because our garden fences and walls are too secure and well made! Hedgehogs need to roam and forage at night for up to a mile on average therefore well made fences can become complete barriers to this. With this in mind the residents of Gwydir street in Cambridge decided to make the bold move to become the city’s first official Hedgehog Highway. This entails ensuring that every garden fence has a suitable hedgehog sized hole in it thus allowing free movement of hedgehogs around their street and gardens. (A hedgehog friendly sized hole is 13cmx13cm)
This ambitious plan was first prompted by hedgehog surveys undertaken by the City Council during the summer which identified the Mill Road area as a relative hot spot for hedgehogs in the city. As Gwydir street already had a residents association it was easy to contact and then mobilize householders. A flyer was posted through every door explaining the plan and why it was important given that hedgehogs are massively declining nationwide. A hedgehog symbol was then put in the window of any household which had a suitable gap in their fence therefore making it easy to spot where there still needed to be one made. This positive action will improve the life chances of local hedgehogs exponentially.
If you would like to try and make your street a Hedgehog Highway do please get in touch at: email@example.com
The City Council can help with putting holes in fences if it is needed.
If you’d like to help hedgehogs in your garden remember to: keep wild areas, bramble patches are especially good.
make sure ponds steps to secure an easy access
do not use pesticides
burn garden waste on the same day as the pile is made
encourage insects into your garden by sowing wildflowers and creating log piles.
Good websites for more info are:
A Community Moth Trap has been bought as part of Cambridge City Council’s Pollinator Campaign for 2020.
This gives community groups such as Scouts or Guides, Schools, Colleges, families or even interested individuals the chance to have a go with a moth trap for the night. This could be just as an interesting one off experience or part of a suck and see venture for people still deciding whether to take the plunge to buy one.
The trap is a Compact Skinner Moth Trap.It’s ideal for gardens or parks, lightweight and easily assembled. ID guides are supplied, as well as collecting pots and an idea of which moths you may get depending on the month.
Do get in touch if you think this could be something fun to do this spring or summer: firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 is the year of the pollinator! At least for Cambridge City Council. We are driving a campaign to highlight these vitally important components of our ecosystem. As part of this campaign the flowers and pollinators in our local nature reserves will be celebrated on this website. Remember pollinators aren’t just bumblebees or honey bees. The task of pollinating is carried out by Moths, Beetles, Flies, Butterflies, Solitary bees and Wasps and the often over looked but fascinating Thrip family!! The plan is to have a month by month article which spotlights key native flowers, shrubs and trees in bloom on our reserves and what is pollinating them.
Starting from now!
February may still feel like winter but the signs of spring are already there to spot on the local nature reserves. Bramblefields Nature reserve in Chesterton for example, has Red Dead nettle ( Lamium purpureum) Lesser Celandine ( Ficaria verna formerly Ranunculus ficaria) Snow drops (Galanthusnivalis) Common Dog-Violets ( Viola riviniana) and Herb Robert (Geranium robertia) all in flower. These flowers can be found on many other of the reserves, especially in the woodland areas.
Some of the Bird Cherries (Prunus padus) are in the early stages of blooming on Coldhams Common.
Although pollinators may be scarce in this month female bumblebees will venture out on warmer days. Most likely candidate for this is the Buff-tailed bumblebee. Forager honey bees will may also appear if the temperature rises to do a cleansing flight and a search for pollen.
Keep looking for more updates as the year of the pollinator progresses!
An knitting project called Knit For The River were looking for a project that could deliver a piece of outdoor art. However the desired brief included that it become physically part of the River Cam riparian habitat. The concept was created by Caroline Wright as part of the To The River commission for Cambridge County Council. https://totheriver.info/ The idea was to include as many knitters as possible from all over Cambridge, either from different community groups or knitting groups or just individuals attending one of the public knitting sessions at the Museum of Cambridge. This involvement lead to over a hundred knitters taking part and producing over four hundred 10cm x 10cm squares of knitting. The issue then was how to integrate this into the river environment? As luck would have it, a solution was found which fitted in nicely with the much needed bank restoration work due at Byron’s Pool nature reserve.
The method of restoration being used was the installation of coir rolls. These rolls are made up of coconut fibres and can be pre-planted with native riverside plant species. Firstly the coir rolls are staked to the side to the eroded bank. Then over time with silt deposition and the action of the plant root growth the rolls become essentially the new bank.
Working with local artist Cathy Dunbar the idea was to attach a strip of knitting (made up of the four hundred knitted squares) to these pre-planted coir rolls. The rolls would then be installed in to the eroded sections of the river bank and become part of the new restored bank. These rolls are now in-situ at Byron’s Pool reserve in two locations along the river bank.
This ingenious art project has been fully documented in the Artsadmin blog.https://www.artsadmin.co.uk/blog/368/Lessons-learnt-from-Artsadmin