Even with the lack of rain and punishing high temperatures the City Council pictorial meadows are still managing to bring interest and colour. These meadows are dotted about the city and provide not only a vital refuge, nectar, pollen and seed source but also help to connect our wildlife areas. To find your nearest one see the City Council website-pictorial meadows or find images at #cammeadows.

This image was taken at Ditton fields recreational ground.

The hot weather has added an interesting dynamic to life on the reserves, putting it mildly!

Most plants are suffering and life cycles are being put under extreme pressure. Evidence of this will become more apparent next year when the effect on numbers can be observed.

The rising temperatures have also dried up some of our ponds. This happened at Bramblefields nature reserve where the original pond became a slightly damp indent rather than a body of water. However this did provide the opportunity to easily remove the invasive pond weed Crassula helmsii or Newzealand pigmy weed also sometimes known as Australian swamp stonecrop. This plant can quickly smoother other aquatic plants and reduce germination rates, it has a mat forming tendency which results in a reduction of open water aquatic species. With no water in the pond it was easy for the conservation volunteers to remove the weed and hopefully majorly knock back its plans for domination.

Bio-security note! It’s important to always clean off nets, wellies and waders if you are ever in any ponds or streams. This is the best way to reduce the spread of these kinds of invasive species.

Brownfield sites are rapidly becoming some of the most valuable environments for many species in the UK. Often the last ‘wild spaces’ left for local communities these sites are unexpected havens for many invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and plant life. The varying topography and low nutrient soils create perfect micro-climates for basking, nesting and hunting.

The Cambridge railway sidings were one such example of a species rich brownfield site. Recently transformed into the Cambridge North station this site was lost. Bramblefields nature reserve in Chesterton is adjacent to the new station. It therefore seemed logical to try and re-create some of the conditions lost by the development in this reserve.

An area of low species count was chosen on the reserve to do this. A low nutrient substrate was put down on top of a weed suppressant membrane. Then a varied topography was created with small pools and wood piles. A calcareous seed mix was put down to hopefully gain a few nectar rich plants for this summer.  The area will be monitored closely in the coming seasons to see what species are attracted. Hopefully exciting updates will follow!

Last Saturday, on what felt like the first day of warm weather in forever, a community event happened that really lifted the spirits. At Paradise nature reserve a group of residents gathered to divide the clumps of Snowdrops that grow at the Owlstone road end of the reserve. The aim was to create more areas where the Snowdrops could prosper and delight us all come next spring time. Although not a native species the Snowdrops have been a feature at this end of the reserve for many years after a local resident began the tradition of planting them there. It was felt that they needed some attention after the ditch slubbing earlier this year gave them a set back. Hopefully they will more than triumph next spring.

If you need some motivation to get outside this Easter holiday you could go Wood anemone spotting at Byron’s Pool reserve. This beautiful plant is one of the few flowering plants found on the woodland floor at this time of year. The flowers look delicate but they are in fact very sturdy and well able to withstand the strong winds of April, they are even sometimes referred to as Wind flowers.  If the weather is sunny the flowers will be open but if it is cloudy or near evening they will close and droop.