Visiting Local(ish) Reserves

Now is a good time to get Out and About visiting local wildlife sites around Rushcliffe, so here are some useful links to nature reserves in Rushcliffe, both NWT and Friends of sites.

Rushcliffe Nature in Rushcliffe leaflet    http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=18

Rushcliffe Nature Reserves    http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=228

NWT  Reserve Bunny Wood   http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=29

NWT Reserve  Skylarks          http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=258

NWT Reserve  Wilford Claypits  http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=217

NWT Reserve  Wilwell Farm Cutting   http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=35

In addition for more formal outings, see our Out and About with Wildlife Programme http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=231

Outside of Rushcliffe you can go further a field

Notts Wildlife Trusts full list of reserves https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/nature-reserves

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust       https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserve

Leicestershire Wildlife Trust  https://www.lrwt.org.uk/nature-reserves

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust    https://www.lincstrust.org.uk/nature-reserves  .

In particular I can recommend Leics WT`s Holwell Mineral Line& Browns Hill Quarry, Ulverscroft and Herbert Meadows, Lea Meadows, Wymeswold Meadows, Loughborough Big Meadow, Cloud Hill Wood, Dimminsdale and Charnwood Lodge which are all just over the southern border, no passport required.

Winter Wildlife Talks Programme 2022/23

Following our extremely varied and successful Talks Programme last winter, preparations are well advanced for this year’s Programme, which will once again be online using Zoom. We can currently confirm the Programme as follows:

6th October                  Winter wildlife in Finland

3rd November              Birds of Cornwall

1st December              Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks

5th January                   Stories of our British Mammals

2nd February                tbc

2nd March                    Life in the Undergrowth

Full details will be published in the coming weeks so, for now, book the dates in your diaries for another varied and entertaining set of talks, which you can join from the comfort of your own home, cup (or glass) in hand!

Proposed Environment Act

Along with other Wildlife Trusts across the country, NWT is asking: Do you want to see a better future for nature?

For the past 50 years, habitat loss has led to a drastic decline in nature. Wildlife populations are the lowest they have ever been, and once-common species could be lost forever. By helping nature’s recovery, we can halt the decline in nature, and create a wilder future.  But current UK Government plans would mean less nature in England in 20 years’ time. This is not good enough.  We cannot allow the nature crisis to continue.  Demand more for nature.

Show the UK Government you want a wilder future by supporting our call for ambitious species abundance targets in the Environment Act by signing our petition.

To find out more, and to sign the petition, visit NWT’s webpage at https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/nature-deserves-better

In a similar vein, Friends of the Earth are organising a separate, but similar, ‘Have your say on the Environment Act targets’ consultation, which can be found at https://action.friendsoftheearth.uk/target/env-bill-targets-consultation?refsid=2054&utm_source=email_share&utm_campaign=%5B2050%5D&utm_medium=share

Let’s make our voices heard!

Wildlife gardening

One of the ways we can help nature is through more wildlife-friendly gardening.   NWT’s  two-minute survey can score your garden and offer ideas to make it even better for wildlife. To find out more, and why this is so important, visit https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/blog/thewildlifetrusts/put-your-garden-test

Complementing this, and encompassing more than just wildlife,  the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) has just published ‘How to Get More Wildlife into Your Garden and Absorb More Carbon’ which can be found on its website at https://cieem.net/how-to-get-more-wildlife-into-your-garden-and-absorb-more-carbon-by-penny-anderson/?fbclid=IwAR1amHpc0bMwYGVFYXYcHA5E7sd1ZBR0SFcw3-2uIDo9chkoAjtQCnN-k7Q

Recording Birds and Butterflies in the Garden

There are a couple of schemes that ask people to record wildlife seen in gardens on a regular basis.

The Garden Bird Survey run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has been running for decades and has collected a lot of information about trends in birds using our gardens. What they are asking you to record is the birds you have seen in your garden on a weekly basis. If you are interested in this go to https://bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw this is a completely different affair to the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch which is just about recording birds seen on a single day.

Another much newer scheme is Butterfly Conservations Garden Butterfly Survey, again it asks people to record on a weekly basis butterflies seen in the garden. Running since 2016 they reckon to have received over 70,000 records from some 1,000 gardens around the country, so why not think about addhttps://gardenbutterflysurvey.org/ing yours to the list. For more details go to https://gardenbutterflysurvey.org/ These are both valid contributions to our knowledge of these species groups and well worth supporting, with the added bonus you can have a cuppa tea and a biscuit whilst doing it.

And don`t forget Nature Counts for more widespread records https://record.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/

Sharphill Wood Work Party

The next work party at Sharphill Wood will be on Sunday 24th April. We hope to see you there, but please let us know beforehand if possible.

Please make sure you read the detailed information on Covid-19 precautions at the end of this invitation.

When: Sunday 24th April, meeting at 09.45 and finishing about lunch time.

Who: No experience necessary and there’s always something to do even if you can’t do heavy work. Young people aged 16 or 17 must have the written permission of a parent or guardian, and children under 16 must be accompanied. Vulnerable adults must be accompanied by their carer.

Where: Meeting point will be the entrance from Peveril Drive, 09.45, or find us in the woods if you arrive later. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/place?ftid=0x4879c3a7c196f583:0xac75d96c39bfb845&q=Peveril+Dr,+West+Bridgford,+Nottingham,+UK&hl=en&ved=0CA0Q-gswAA&sa=X&ei=CeETT6X2OsKz8QOa5NnzCw&sig2=zNHwjd-TlUQ0cw33fxke2g

What: The main task will be repairing/installing path edging near the northern end of the site. Richard Elliott will be leading this work party. Relevant training will be given where necessary. Safety: All volunteers must pay attention to the safety of themselves and others. Risk assessments will be prepared and will be available for inspection on the day. Please respect all decisions of the work party leader.

Other Useful Info:

·  Please wear suitable gardening clothes and sturdy footwear. Covering arms and legs might be advisable to help avoid insect bites, ticks, stings, scratches, etc..  Also the use of insect repellent might be appropriate, particularly from spring through to early autumn.  Also bring gardening gloves and other items listed under Covid-19 precautions at the end of this email (although we will have some spare gloves if needed).

·  Bring a drink. We will stop for a break mid-morning.

·  Waterproofs / sun-cream would be useful to cover every weather eventuality!

·  It is highly recommended that you ensure your tetanus vaccinations are up-to-date.

Please advise the leader of any pre-existing condition that should be taken into account in the event of a medical emergency during the work party.

Please: Let us know (by replying to this email) if you hope to attend, so that we can ensure an appropriate supply of tools. Also look out for any further emails in case arrangements change. John Elwell (Work Party Co Ordinator) john.r.elwell@outlook.com

GIVEN THAT COVID-19 IS STILL VERY MUCH ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY, WE CONTINUE TO TAKE CERTAIN PRECAUTIONS. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Please stay away if you or anyone in your household has any Covid-like symptoms, have tested positive or are required to self-isolate.
  • Please bring hand sanitiser, disinfecting wipes and face covering (in case needed for close working).
  • If possibly bring your own gardening gloves (although we will have some spares). Please bear in mind that gloves may become contaminated, so take precautions and either wash them or leave them to quarantine after the work party.
  • Wear gloves all the time, except where impracticable. Disinfect your hands after handling anything, before eating or drinking, and at the end of the work party.
  • Please consider any areas of your body that need protection against branches, etc., including your eyes – we are unable to provide eye protection for hygiene reasons.
  • Please consider bringing your own first aid kit, although we will have one available. In the unfortunate event of an accident, we may ask you to self-administer first aid, where feasible, although we will have face masks available if we need to come close.
  • Because we will be sharing tools to some extent, you may wish to use a disinfecting wipe between uses.
  • Please maintain reasonable social distancing (from each other and from members of the public) and consider wearing a face covering if you need to work close to somebody.

 

 

DON`T JUST SPOT IT, RECORD IT

An important part of nature conservation is understanding what is (and is not) around. But whilst there are dedicated volunteers who spend a lot of their time recording birds, running butterfly transects, moth trapping and researching into many other obscure groups the activity in the wider area is often less well recorded. Quite simply there is a lot of countryside, not forgetting urban areas..

So whilst I personally will concentrate on ensuring the recording the wildlife of Wilwell over the year, I also record birds, butterflies and mammals etc seen (or heard) on my walks around Rushcliffe. And although particularly looking out for more “iconic” species like Skylarks, Hares, Woodpeckers or Purple Emperors, I would also record the “usual suspects” – the Robins, Great Tits, Crows and Blackbirds, Small Tortoiseshells and Speckled Wood.

Everyone can contribute to this picture, even if it is reporting for example bird and butterfly  records in the local park or nature reserve once a month or when out walking the dog. And whilst your individual records may not seem much, when added into the general database they add to the bigger picture.,

But such records need to get into the county and national databases to be of value and for this you can use the Notts Wildlife Trust web site Nature Counts to record wildlife you have seen in the area. Straightforward to use – you just need a date, a species, numbers (if possible) and to be able to pinpoint the location on the online map. This is then forms part of the national records of wildlife distribution, helping create a picture of species distribution and abundance.

To find out more about Nature Counts and set up an account follow this link

https://record.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/

 

Solar Farm near Bunny Wood

A planning application has been made for a major Solar Farm adjacent to Bunny Wood nature reserve. Details can be found on the Rushcliffe Borough Council planning web site https://planningon-line.rushcliffe.gov.uk/online…/ Planning Ref 22/00303/FUL, the deadline for comments from the public is 1st April.
The site map (see http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/…/Solar-Farm-plan.pdf) indicates the array runs right along the whole of the southern edge of the reserve and extends for about 1000m along the slope to the south to the Wysall Road, and represents a significant visual intrusion into the landscape. Visibility issues aside, Bunny Wood takes a lot of drainage from the top of the field, so the solar farm may also affect the site’s hydrology and ecology. It will also impact the farmland wildlife currently to be found in the open fields here, like Hares and Skylarks – even species like Golden Plover and Hen Harrier have been seen making use of these fields in recent years.
This application represents the difficult choices the planning system raises as we are all far more reliant on energy than in the past, but the production of energy, renewable or not comes at a cost. As always the planning process is open to individuals making comments.

Gardening for Wildlife

With spring coming now is a good time to think if there is anything more you can do to attract and assist local wildlife in your area. This is about wildlife friendly gardening, rather than letting the garden go wild. Here are a series of useful links on our web site that may give you some idea.
Various wildlife gardening web sites that might be helpful http://www.southnottswildlife.org.uk/content/?page_id=519
In addition you might want to take advantage of Rushcliffe Borough Councils seed packet offer, mentioned in an earlier FB post.
Gardens form a significant land area in the UK. So whilst these sorts of things are not going to change the world, but every little helps and a lot of littles can end up being significant.

Winter Wildlife Talks Programme 2021/22

Each winter, South Notts Local Group presents a programme of six monthly talks by a mix of wildlife experts and enthusiasts, who share their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm.  Each year’s programme is varied, interesting and enjoyable, and the 20221/22 programme which concluded earlier this month was no exception. We learned about discovering wild flowers in Hampshire, encouraging butterflies in Derby, seeing big game in the Kruger National Park, finding places and wildlife in the Scottish Highlands, experiencing the flora and fauna of the Scottish Islands and helping hedgehogs in Oxfordshire.

In October, Gerald Ponting took us through the seasons in different habitats looking at the diverse flora to be found around his Hampshire home, ranging from road side verges to chalk downlands, by way of the Winchester South Park and Ride, and shared a fascinating mixture of plant name etymology, references to centuries-old herbals and extracts from Chaucer, Shakespeare and many more.

In November, Max and Christine Maughan reminded us that butterflies are not just beautiful, they are also important for our future: without them and fellow pollinators like bees, hoverflies and other insects, there will be no food. Our gardens are a vital source of pollen and nectar, so effective planting with easy to grow and maintain butterfly-friendly flowers and shrubs to give a flowering season from late winter to late autumn will attract and help sustain butterflies and many other insects.

In December, Barbara Meyer took us on safari in South Africa, mainly in the Kruger National Park, covering a wide mix of animals, including the ‘Big 5’ – a term coined by the hunting community to reflect that amongst all of the animals hunted, these were potentially the most dangerous, as “they can fight back” – lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo and elephant.  Based on her extensive experience, Barbara’s advice on maximising your chances of seeing animals in South Africa was simple – use reputable organisations and experienced guides.

In January, Gordon Hamlett shared his experiences in writing a guidebook to the birdlife, wildlife and majestic beauty of the Scottish Highlands. It was a fascinating insight into his creative process in describing effectively such an enormous and diverse area, and some of the problems encountered in moving from idea to book, including: designer’s sleepless nights; proof reading; the difficulty of making location information useable, and the ethical issues around potential disturbance of birds, particularly rarer species.

In February, Nick Martin took us to Scotland’s Western and Northern Isles, bringing alive the  different landscapes – brooding mountains; lochs, lochans and tarns; unbroken expanses of moorland; the glorious machair, bursting with all manner of wildflowers and the many bays and beaches, some of which would not look out of place on a tropical island. These all formed the background against which Nick described the abundant wildlife, from seals and otters through an incredibly wide and varied range of birds, large and small.

In March, Stephen Powle talked about hedgehogs, animals that have lived in Britain for around half a million years but which have in the last decade suffered a catastrophic decline, and which need all the help we can give them. Stephen offered a series of tips on how to help them, and went on to describe a community effort, led by his brother Chris, that has made a real difference in the Oxfordshire village of Kirtlington, including the creation of hedgehog-friendly spaces in gardens, school grounds and churchyard, all  linked by a ‘Hedgehog Superhighway’.

Each talk was different, all were interesting and all were enjoyable, and it was both a pleasure and a privilege to engage with such knowledgeable and enthusiastic speakers. Using Zoom as the broadcast medium proved effective, allowing speakers to share many excellent and varied images, and dialogue between speakers and viewers.  We all learned new things, including: how aspirin got its name; to beware baboons in a particular car park in the Kruger; to avoid riot police training on a Scottish nature reserve; if your tractor breaks down in the field, leave it and get another, and – perhaps most memorably – hedgehogs can climb stairs!

 

We are currently developing the 2022/23 Winter Wildlife Talks Programme, which promises to be equally varied, interesting and enjoyable, so please keep watching for an announcement on the Programme and booking arrangements here and on our Facebook page.