GBCP NEWSLETTER is pleased to publish another special edition taken from notes distributed to the Victoria Park Action Group (VPAG) by local ecologist Alex Morss. VPAG is one of several support groups for the green spaces in BS3.
VPAG volunteers have been working with Victoria Park and St Mary Redcliffe Primary Schools, along with community groups over the past 2 years to establish the park’s wildflower areas. These ‘mini meadows’ have been created in designated wildlife areas, to support the Get Bristol Buzzing campaign that helps urban pollinators, and to increase the biodiversity of the park. It is beginning to reap rewards – this week locals found at least 4 species of bee and we had the first ever public record of the Small Blue butterfly. This is a rather rare, priority species that has declined considerably in recent decades: http://butterfly-conservation.org/51-779/small-blue.html . (editor’s note: this is a very much more reliable and plausible identification than the Wood White reported at Windmill Hill City Farm a couple of weeks ago. If you photograph an unknown creature, please send your picture to ispotnature.org for an expert opinion.)
Victoria Park also has several species of bat along with tawny owls, regularly foraging over the adjoining long grass meadow areas – including the rare Lesser Horseshoe bat, recorded for the first time ever, last week.
Collaborating with Schools
VPAG have had hundreds of children from both local primary schools involved with digging, sowing, growing, planting and learning about native flower species and what pollinators they support. The project has been supported by Avon Wildlife Trust, GoodGym, Butterfly Conservation and lots of local people who have helped in some way. With all this help VPAG has managed to keep going despite suffering accidental mowing, sabotage by squirrels, dogs and drought. This project is making an important contribution to My Wild Bedminster by both raising public awareness and improving habitats for wildlife.
The wildflower areas look rather different to traditional, manicured horticultural beds. VPAG welcomes ‘natural arrivals’ instead of weeding or spraying, as those species make good caterpillar larval food plants and shelter other invertebrates. As the flowers are sown in combination with traditional meadow grasses, the areas can be tricky to spot when not flowering, but they will be in bloom very soon.
Visitors may notice short wooden posts around 3 of the primary schools’ mini meadows, clearly marked with yellow paint and installed with small illustrations of lots of wildlife, to inform and encourage children to discover what species are in the park. There are temporary posters up, (looking a bit weathered) so VPAG volunteers are busy woodworking some more waterproof signage to replace them shortly.
It was a bit disappointed that a thief pinched some of the illustrations in the first few days… but, perhaps, this was an educated thief, who was obviously delighted in learning all this wonderful natural history, and will now be able to recite the Latin names and recognize the markings of a lot of our British fauna. Perhaps they will share their new knowledge with everyone who has missed out?
VPAG would appreciate if people could please respect these areas and discourage dogs/children from removing the items. The information and posts have been added to inform and to enjoy, but also to mark out some of the areas and help the council mowers to avoid them.
If the mystery thief or other wannabees are reading this, you will find better and rather amazing accurate drawings of British wildlife on the Field Studies Council’s Publications Website www.field-studies-council.org/publications.aspx . FSC runs natural history field weekends for all ages, where you can get outside, find, and learn to identify British species with experts. They even offer grants.
VPAG Wildflower Walk
The VPAG wildlife group will be hosting a Wildflower Walk later this month as part of the Festival of Nature, open to anyone who would like to explore Victoria Park’s wildflowers. Keep an eye on the VPAG website /Facebook or Twitter for details.
Victoria Park Action Group.
VPAG is run by volunteers, so donations, ideas, fresh blood and other support are always welcome. VPAG meets on the 1st Monday of each month in the Bowling Club House, 7.30pm.
Keeping Records for My Wild Bedminster
Towards the end of 2017 we are hoping to collate records of all sorts of creatures across BS3. If you see anything unusual (hedgehogs and slow worms for example) or get some great pictures, send them to us straightaway at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, send pictures to South Bristol Voice (email@example.com) . But, hang on to your longer term lists. For example, if you are listing butterflies found in your garden, or beetles in South Street Park, send us your list to us at the end of the season.
Calling All Park Support Groups
Our parks are often filled with rubbish left by visitors. This is good for some sorts of wildlife – chiefly sea gulls and rats. BCC is often unable to clear this rubbish away for several days. The Dame Emily Park Project and others are about to start a ‘Bring it in, Take it out’ campaign which, hopefully, will at least reduce amounts piled up. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, especially if your park support group would like to join in.
We are very happy to promote the work of local organisations either by brief reports in our normal NEWSLETTERs or by circulating a Special NEWSLETTER devoted to a single subject. Please get in touch.