Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nature News

The Hunger Gap
June is sometimes known as the ‘June gap’ for pollinating species, such as bees, on the hunt for nectar. There are flowering species of plant around, but the nectar rich ones that large colonies rely on tend to be in short supply. Most bee keepers avoid taking honey in this period as it can starve the bees, especially if it is a bad year and the gap is big!

However, the meadows at Ray Park have come up with a plant called ribbed melilot (Melilotus officinalis) aka sweet clover. This has been in flower through most of June and is a known major source of nectar for large bee colonies, nearby hives known to be able to produce up to 200 pounds of honey in a year! We have two hives here at Ray Park so it certainly made us smile to know our bees were not going hungry (what June Gap hey) and also that we might be getting a bumper crop of honey this year!

Looking out for Hedgehogs
Some of you may have read the news about the sad decline in hedgehogs in London and beyond. The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have produced updated guidance for people wishing to use tracking tunnels to survey for hedgehogs, currently the only statistically robust way of detecting hedgehog presence/absence.

The tracking tunnels are easy and fun to make, great way to check whether your garden has hedgehogs, otherwise if you do have positive visual sightings we would like to know too. Knowing where our hedgehog hotspots in the borough is very important, this will help us to make sure our local campaigns are targeted in protecting existing populations and helping struggling ones.
If you need advice on this do let us know, otherwise we look forward to your records, make sure you give detailed location (house number and postcode or 10 figure grid reference).

Nature lovers can get involved with citizen science across the UK thanks to OPAL
People of all ages can now contribute to scientific research on their local environment through the Open Air Laboratories programme (OPAL). The programme, led by Imperial College London, has been inspiring communities in England to discover, enjoy and protect their local environment since 2007. Citizen scientists have already used lichens to identify areas affected by air pollution and discovered that earthworm diversity is high in back gardens. The expansion of OPAL’s surveys now means scientists will be able to track the spread of invasive species, such as the damaging Chalara ash dieback disease, as well as find out more about the differences between urban and rural biodiversity. Do take a look at what the programme offers and if you need any advice, the nature conservation ranger team is here to help.

Nature Conservation Ranger Team
Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure (VRCL)
In partnership with London Borough of Redbridge
Nature Conservation Ranger Team
James Leal Centre, Ray Park
Snakes Lane East
Woodford Green, Essex IG8 7JQ
Tel: 020 8559 2316


  1. I'm not sure if it's by design or lack of monies but I'm certainly glad to see some of our Parks have sections which are not being mowed and left to be a wildlife meadow. Just a few minutes standing still spent watching the area and you'll see field mice, all manner of insects and birds enjoying and making use of this perfect ecosystem. Sadly I come across some people who only see the sections as derelict ground and consider it an eyesore, it's only when you explain the benefits that they understand. I suggest Vision highlight the benefits, whether it's intentional or not, and get the public / Schools involved to seed wildflowers and use the spaces as part of their educational visits.

    1. Seven Kings Park Users Group helped plant a wild flower meadow and it was great to se it in full bloom and walkers taking photos of it. I agree it would be helpful to put an explanatory piece nearby to help people appreciate the reason for the planting.