GBCP NEWSLETTER (16:17) – 13th April 2017 Special on My Wild Bedminster

GBCP started to work with Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) on their My Wild City project in 2016. The objectives of the project are two-fold.

  1. Make people more aware of the wildlife around them, that’s plants and creatures great and small;
  2. Make the environment more attractive to wild life. Dragonflies, foxes and people have much the same needs: food and water and somewhere safe to sleep and raise a family. It’s only the details that differ.

BS3 is amongst the most densely populated parts of the city and therefore it’s an area less attractive to wildlife. On the other hand, there’s still quite a lot of wildlife about, if you look for it. AWT and GBCP’s strategy has been to make the most of what we’ve got. Firstly, there are several major wildlife corridors that allow insects, birds and mammals to come in and out from the countryside. These include the Avon New Cut and the railway lines. Secondly, there are ‘islands’ of green. These include parks and other green spaces and also great chunks of back and front garden. Many homes in BS3 have very small back gardens and no front garden, but even a pot of flowers or a hanging basket can mean something to a butterfly, especially if you choose the right plants. The aim is to ‘improve’ these islands for wildlife and to link them up so that creatures can move more easily from one space to another.

This is quite long-term work and we’ll be continuing with this process throughout 2017 and, I guess, 2018, 2019…………..

Working With Park Groups
All the parks in BS3 have a support group. Many of them have identified more wildlife as one of their aims. Of course, this isn’t easy when much of our parks are given over to play equipment, skateboarding and football fields. Groups want to keep, or even increase these, too. But, some are planting small patches of wild flowers which will attract insects and spiders and thus birds and mammals. So far, this is on a fairly small scale, but it’s a start. We’d be really interested in reports from parks about their plans and their visitors. For example, which parks have squirrels? Or hedgehogs? Has anyone done any bird watching in any of our parks and recorded what they’ve seen? What about spiders, bats and moths. How about a beetle hunt and picnic with the family? How many different beetles can you find in 30 minutes? Think of this whole exercise as a jigsaw puzzle. You may have one or two pieces. Please send the information to new@gbcp.org.uk and we’ll try to put the pieces together.

Groups like Patchwork and local businesses are making a contribution with their community gardens, orchards and flower boxes in the streets. GBCP has also been looking at how the number of street trees might be increased, despite the narrowness of many roads and the tangle of pipes, wires and tunnels under every pavement.

Working With Schools
Schools often use wildlife as a theme for science, arts, English, maths and other studies. Sometimes it’s about Africa or Whales, but we’ve written to 11 schools (one secondary and ten primaries) in BS3 to invite them to look closer to home. They won’t all be doing projects in the summer term, but we expect 4 or 5 to join in, which is fine for this year. We are being supported in My Wild Bedminster by the South Bristol Voice. They ran an article in their April addition and plan to run more throughout the year. They are particularly interested in promoting the art and photography part of the project. This isn’t limited to children.

We’ve circulated some information to schools and two papers are attached. One of these sets out a range of projects that each school could undertake. Many of them are equally applicable to a park, summer playscheme or a back garden, so why not join in yourself? My Wild Bedminster (school 2)

The second paper gives more information about butterflies and day moths. Can you tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth? I’ve started a survey in my garden. So far, I’ve seen three butterfly species, all over the glorious weekend of 8/9 April. I’ve seen several holly blues and speckled woods and one male orange-tip moving at high speed from one garden to another. Butterflies & Moths

BS3 Wildlife Group
This group has been going for a few years. It’s main activity is to monitor garden birds over the six months from October to March. It’s a bit of fun just to check on visitors, but it’s good to share this information with others. They are collecting the new data now with, so far, 18 observers returning their list. The number of garden species seen ranges from zero to 20. Most are regulars like magpies, blackbirds and great tits, but there are a few less common visitors such as wrens, long-tailed tits and jays.

We are hoping that this year the group will branch out and join in the butterfly survey. Contact the BS3 Wildlife Group via news@gbcp.org.uk.

Beehive Yourself!
Local resident Nicola is encouraging people to establish their own beehives. Perhaps this could be on an allotment, in school grounds or in your back garden. Bees are a very important part of nature’s network and are being squeezed out of our environment. If you want to know more, contact Nicola on nicolaround@gmail.com

Hedgehogs
Nearly as rare as hens’ teeth, but there are a few around. We took part last year in AWT’s efforts to map the distribution of hedgehogs across Bristol. We didn’t expect to find any, but once we started looking a few popped up in back gardens and parks. People even sent us pictures. This year we want to keep looking and seeing if we can find more. Please let us know if you spot a hedgehog (dead or alive!!) in BS3. We’ll pass the information on to AWT.

Photographs Needed
Most people have access to a camera now-a-days, so quick snaps are a good way to record the presence of all sorts of creatures. If you are not sure what it is, send the picture to us and we’ll try to identify it. The attached caterpillar picture was taken last year in Ashton Vale. The pointy bit at the back shows it’s a hawk-moth, but I don’t know why they have this spike. the picture’s a bit blurry, but my guess would be a poplar hawk-moth which feeds on poplar (surprise!!) and also willow and sallow leaves. look out for them in May and June. Note: hummingbird hawk-moths do not feed on hummingbirds, but they do sometimes visit England in the summer. I’ve only seen them once in Bedminster. There were several feeding in a front garden about five doors from my house.

Of course, some folk are not just snappers, but keen photographers. Later in 2017 or early 2018 we will be organising a public exhibition to show off the best wildlife pictures from BS3. OK, it’s not deepest Africa, but lions are big and easy. How about a stunning fox shot or beetles making more beetles? Some of these pictures will be published in the South Bristol Voice during 2017.

Please note that we intend that no creature, including you, should be harmed as a result of My Wild Bedminster. Please treat neighbours of all species with respect.

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