Swift flying

Do Swifts trump Solitary Bees?? As well as Solitary Bee week it’s also National Swift Awareness week. I think we have enough love to go around for both groups, no real favourites here!

Swifts are pretty amazing though:

  • feed, drink, sleep, mate on the wing.
  • migrate 14,000 miles to equatorial and Southern Africa every year.
  • BUT also are declining massively, over the last ten years up to half their numbers have declined.

Swift in hand                 Swift flying away from hands

 

How to help? That’s why these National awareness weeks exist to highlight the issues and then give advice on how we can change conditions for the better. See below all the links that can give you this information, but be aware that once you start clicking it could lead to:

  • putting up your own swift nesting boxes on your house
  • setting up a camera in this nest box and obsessing about their chicks and when the breeding pair may return next year
  • staring up in to the sky, no matter what you are doing, whenever you hear Swifts calling
  • even monitoring your own bird’s migration path.

In short it could change your life so be ready for that process to happen when you make your first click on:

http://actionforswifts.com/

https://www.swift-conservation.org/

https://www.natural-apptitude.co.uk/project/swift-mapper/

This process has already happened to Tony, a Chesterton local and Friend of Logan’s Meadow, https://twitter.com/folm_cambridge?lang=en . Please see his awesome video of the Swifts nesting at Logan’s Meadow Swift Tower. https://youtu.be/PMD39Ak8g-8D

All photos were supplied by https://actionforswifts.blogspot.com/p/saw2020.html

Solitary bee

This week we are taking a moment to think about those other bees, not the bigger furry ones, not the honey producing ones, the other ones….collectively known as Solitary bees. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee and just under 250 of them are solitary bees!

Solitary bee

As the name suggests they don’t tend to live in colonies like Bumblebees or Honey bees and they do not produce honey. They have many complex and interesting life cycles and are definitely a group that requires further investigation. See this link for loads of ideas and info: https://www.solitarybeeweek.com/learn

 

 

On the City Council’s nature reserves we are recognizing that these relatively unknown pollinators could do with a hand. Therefore we are wanting to build the perfect breeding and nesting conditions for them in the form of a ‘bee bank’ on some of the reserves.

Bee bankThis is an example of what a bee bank could look like.

Take a look at our plans for installing more bee banks on the reserves, the first one is planned for Logan’s Meadow reserve, see the link below.

Please do make a response, we welcome your views.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Yr5uzntVNkShnHZ-yizUUVsJav_t6dFMsk2cqNxHkWpUOEhJV0hYSlhBVDRIMzExWUUzRUpSUk9JVi4u

Or find it at:https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations

Solitary bee on yellow flower

 

Common Darter dragonfly

It’s here!! National Insect week:

22nd -28th June 2020!!!

It only comes around every two years so you don’t want to miss all the great interactive activities available.

Check out this link: https://www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/about-national-insect-week

There are so many ideas and useful learning resources to help you get to know some of our 24,000 species of insects in the UK.

Where can you go to find them locally?? Well how about our beautiful Cambridge local nature reserves? The Reserves

Insects can be found in many different habitats, so plan an insect safari this week, this could include;  borrowing the Community moth trap, a pond dip, a sweep through tall grass, a shake of a low hanging branch on to a waiting sheet, under logs, under leaves, on flowers, on stalks, in a cow pat……the list goes on!

Get to know theses species which keep our planet live-able!!!

If you would like to borrow the community moth trap please email: Victoria.Smith@cambridge.gov.uk

Hoverfly lagoon

A great way to boost biodiversity in your outside space is to create as many different habitats as possible. You may have flowers, maybe a pond, a lovely compost heap, even log piles but do you have a hoverfly lagoon??

Hoverflies are often overlooked as a pollinator. They are often mistaken for bees or wasps because of their yellow-and-black patterns which they use as a method of defense although they cannot sting and do not live in nests.  The easiest way to know if you are looking at a hoverfly rather than a bee or wasp is to look at their wings, they only have two while bees and wasps have four.

Tiger hoverflyTiger hoverfly (heliophilus pendulus)

 

There are more than 280 hoverfly species in the UK and some of these species have an aquatic lifestage with their larvae living in pools of water or ‘rot holes’ in trees. (particularly the genera Eristalis, Myathropa and Helophilus).

This is where the lagoon comes in.

How to make a hoverfly lagoon:

The lagoon is essentially any container with decaying organic matter and water in it. Preferably holding no less than 2 pints of water and positioned in partial shade, ideally under a bush or tree. Once you have situated it, place a layer of dry leaf litter on top of the water, this provides the visiting female with a space to crawl over and lay eggs, it also helps reduce evaporation and deter mosquitoes.

We made ours in an old bath! It worked really well. There are now loads of Tiger Hoverflies using the swampy water to breed. As well as frogs and toads enjoying a cool down. hoverfly lagoon made in a bath

Check the water for larvae after a few weeks. To spot the hoverfly larvae look for the unique breathing tube which reaches up to the surface, this earnt them the nick name of Rat’s tail maggots. You could keep some in a separate container and like butterflies watch them emerge into a beautiful adult. Or you could take it further and be part of a Citizen Science project which is trying to gather data on our hoverflies see: https://www.thebuzzclub.uk/hoverfly-lagoons

 

Paradise Nature Reserve River Path

Since lock down there definitely seems to be more people out on their bikes which can only be a positive. To tie in with World Environment Day http://www.worldenvironmentday.global this Friday it could be a fun activity to try and find some of our fantastic nature reserves in Cambridge which you may not know are there.

How about trying to do a cycle route around the city visiting as many as you can? It’s possible to plan a safe route which uses only cycle paths and routes through the green spaces.

Perhaps more do-able could be just visiting the ones in the West of the city for example, start at Paradise reserve, go through Grantchester Meadows pop in to Byron’s Pool reserve for a picnic then on to 9 Wells reserve and back?

Byron's Pool

Or in the East you could try starting at Coldham’s Common, into Barnwell West then Barnwell East reserves, back through Coldham’s Common, through Stourbridge Common and finish at Logan’s Meadow?

Byron's Pool Trail

Have a look at our map on this website and plan a route that suits you. You could also include checking out ideas from the Wildlife Trust 30 day challenge https://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/57739/petition/1 to add to the whole experience.

It would be great to hear how you get on email: parks@cambridge.gov.uk and let us know!