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A stroll with the snowdrops

Hope’s Flower, Eve’s Tears, the beautiful Fair Maids of February, the portentous Death Bell or maybe even just simple Dingle Dangles. Whatever you call them, snowdrops have arrived in Cumbernauld’s woods. Legend says that snowdrops were the only flower kind enough to share their colour with the newly made snow and thus became the only flower able to grow amongst it, allowing them to capture people’s hearts as the harbinger of spring.  Snowdrops aren’t native to Scotland, they probably arrived here in the 16th century, but they aren’t regarded as invasive due to their slow spreading habits and their value as an early nectar source. They are perfectly adapted to the cold, able to protect their delicate flowers and survive in the harshest conditions.  Although we may be most familiar with Galanthus nivalis, the common form of snowdrop, there are actually more than 20 species and more than 2000 cultivated varieties. ‘Galanthophiles’, those who collect the flowers, will pay big money for a new type – one single rare bulb once changed hands for £1390! This trade may be part of the reason why snowdrops are

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Crafty by Nature

I have always been interested in arts and crafts, and have dabbled in many, sometimes costly mediums to find one that would stick. As the saying goes Jack of all trades – master of none. It was during the height of the Australian bush fires when a post on Facebook caught my eye. Wildlife organisations were calling out for knitted, crocheted and sewn items for wildlife injured by the fires. I quickly bought some yarn, my second ever crochet hook (first one was given away as I couldn’t get to grips with it), and followed a YouTube video on how to make a nest. I’m now hooked and churning out flowers and toys for my dogs, but what has all this got to do with my job? Well I jokingly made a reference to creating a crocheted wildflower meadow and our Project Manager said go for it. And now you can join in! We’re going to work with groups and individuals to create crocheted wildflowers native to Scotland as a tool to connect people to nature. This will run parallel

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Hallow”scream” in the Glen

It’s that time of year when the nights draw in and the veil between worlds thins. Aos Sí or fairies from the otherworld get to visit for one night only, and this year we’re inviting them to our Halloween event at Cumbernauld Glen on Thursday 31st October. Tickets sold out incredibly fast, so congratulations if you are one of the 250 people who managed to secure a place. This is a departure from our normal weekend events, but as well as the activities and spooky stories it’s a great opportunity to see one of Cumbernauld’s best greenspaces in a new light (or very little light!). We’re usually encouraged to avoid walking through the woods at night, but the experience can be magical in the right context. Halloween is believed to be taken from Samhain, the ancient Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvesting season and the beginning of winter. A place was set at the table for the return of the souls of loved ones seeking hospitality offerings. Food and drink were put out for the Aos Sí who needed

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Discover Autumn Connections

Autumn is always a wonderful time to explore the outdoors.The air is crisp and sharp, the leaves are changing hue and our wildlife is winding down for the year. It’s a time of change when nature’s energies are drawn back to store for the coming winter. In some cases, wildlife is finding places to sleep or develop over winter. While no animal in the UK truly hibernates, some do love a good snooze. For us however the changing seasons mark a different path. For many, the darker nights and change in nature are thought of negatively. With reduced sunlight hours we feel sluggish, blue and sometimes we just can’t be bothered. That’s all natural, it’s perfectly normal that our bodies and mind processes slow down, we too are trying to conserve energy for the coming winter. Us humans tend to think in the short term. Technological advances have made life easier for us in many ways and it has become an constant repeat of now, now, now! But maybe we need to listen to our inner nature’s call and accept

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Going Batty

    Believe it or not, it’s Autumn, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were still waiting on Summer, but I’m afraid for this year, that’s your lot!  You can see signs of the change all around, Trees beginning to change colour, a scattering of birch leaves in the wind, a heavy dew in the morning. One of the most noticeable signs is the change in light levels, the nights are definitely drawing in, bringing an end to the long summer days we’ve been enjoying. This always make me feel a bit gloomy in myself, but it does actually bring with it one big advantage – the chance to see bats! Many bat species are most active around about dusk and dawn, using their incredible echolocation abilities to hunt moths and other flying insects in the near darkness. In mid-summer you have to wait until nearly midnight if you want to go bat spotting, but at this time of year we can go out looking and still get to our beds at a decent hour! This is an important time

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Funding boost for Creating Natural Connections

As you might recall we were on tenterhooks during December, waiting to hear about the funding from Heritage Lottery Fund for our new initiative, Creating Natural Connections. This is a very exciting four-year project that will lead to huge improvements to our green spaces and connect even more people to nature. It has been a tense couple of months and our nails have been bitten down to the quick. It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that we have been successful in gaining the funding, and that you are going to be hearing much more about Creating Natural Connections over the next four years. To celebrate we have invited people who have been involved with the Cumbernauld Living Landscape since its launch in 2011 to an event tonight at Kingdom City Church. This our small way of saying thank you for having faith in us and for being willing to try something out of the ordinary, but mostly for supporting us and the work we do. Without valued funding, the dedication from our partners, the support of

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Investing in young people, today

Word has been going around the campfire about the great work Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been doing with young people of the town. So much so that we were invited to an event called Investing in Young People; Investing in our Environment by the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. I invited the Achieve students from Greenfaulds High School to come along and we decided to make a day of it with a wee tour of Edinburgh.  We visited Johnston Terrace Garden, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s smallest wildlife reserve, which is hidden away deep in the heart of the Old Town. We learned all about the garden and how important these spaces can be for wildlife and people. We also had a wander down to the Christmas market on Princes Street to see how large spaces can be used for spectacular public events. Needless to say, the funfair grabbed their attention more than my explanation of how parks can be used in lots of different ways to benefit people. I can’t blame them, it was a wonderfully chilly and festive afternoon. We

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Bugworts arrives at St Maurice’s Pond

This Saturday sees the first ever visit from Bugworts Academy of Witches, Warlocks and Wacky Wildlife and we are soooooo excited.  The tickets have been snapped up quicker than you can say Sellius Oootius with additional slots being added due to demand. Potential students and families will begin their visit to Prof. Mini Bugonnagal Hunter’s office for registration before exploring the academy’s grounds. The thought of magic academy may be daunting, so we have a variety of activities including shadow photography where families can take snaps of their wee ones being very scary with a number of props. We have a crackin’ wee story in the woodlands to set everyone up before they walk on the rickety, crickety boardwalk (it’s not, I’m using theatrical license here) and we will end the evening with Dragonflying lessons on the scorched grounds.  You never know there may be a few things that we add to spice things up a bit. Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s aim is to get people outside enjoying their parks and woodlands even if that is at unusual times of the

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Bugworts comes to St Maurice’s Pond this Hallowe’en

Recently Alba Scoticus, headteacher of Bugworts Academy of Witches, Warlocks and Wacky Wildlife, got in touch and asked if we would like to host an event at North Lanarkshire Council’s St Maurice’s Pond this year as there is a magical connection to the water and woodlands of the site. Well we jumped at the chance! For the past few years we have held our Hallowe’en event in Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve but this year we felt it was time for a change of scene. Our Hallowe’en event is a family friendly night time self-led walk. Having the chance to see our parks and woodlands in a different light is quite exciting. During the event there will be lots of different stations with fun activities to break up your walk. You might even see or hear the bats that skim the insects off the top of the pond. We will have a leader with a bat detector on the night. Please note booking is essential for the event. We have earlier time slots for younger children – great for little ones

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The Big Butterfly Count

I’ve got a simple rule in my daily life. When Sir David Attenborough tells me to do something I do it! You may have seen the great man on various media channels over the last few weeks promoting something called the Big Butterfly Count, a national scheme to try and record the numbers of butterflies that are living alongside us. Butterflies are indicator species, this means that studying their health tells us a lot about the underlying environment in which they exist.  Butterflies have short life cycles and react quickly to environmental changes, monitoring their numbers lets us know how their food-plants are getting on and gives us important clues as to how other creatures like birds and mammals will react over the longer term. Butterflies are also really easy to monitor, they’re easy to spot fluttering about our parks and gardens and they have distinctive colours and patterns that make them easy for anyone to recognise. Butterfly Conservation, the charity who organise the Big Butterfly Count would like everyone to spend just 15 minutes, before the 12th of August,