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New meadow proposal at Cumbernauld Community Park

“People and wildlife at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future” is our vision at Cumbernauld Living Landscape, so it’s important that wherever possible improvements we make to the town’s habitats also provide opportunities for locals to connect with nature. This year we have some exciting plans for Cumbernauld Community Park, and we want you to be involved. In partnership with Friends of Cumbernauld Community Park, we’re holding two information sessions to gather thoughts and opinions on a proposed wildflower meadow and a meadow of unharvested oats. The wildflower meadow will not only bring colour to the park in summer, it will also become the latest addition to Cumbernauld’s “Nectar Network”, creating a new food supply for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and moths. Unharvested oats hark back to the area’s agricultural past, and while they may not be feeding us humans, they’ll provide a feast for farmland birds such as skylarks, fieldfares and redwings. The two meadows have the potential to create some fantastic wildlife-watching experiences. In previous consultations, over 40% of respondents wanted more things to do in the

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Planting plastic

Planting trees is a rewarding experience, something we’re all being encouraged to do to help tackle the climate crisis and boost biodiversity in our local greenspaces. But the work doesn’t stop there if we want these trees to develop into healthy woodlands. Last week our Nature Ninjas volunteers were out collecting old tree guards in Glencryan Wood – not the most exciting activity, but important nonetheless! Tree guards are often used when planting new saplings, you’ve probably seen clusters of pale green tubes emerging from the ground alongside a new road or at a forestry plantation site. The guards help support the young tree in its earliest days, protecting it from the elements and, crucially, hungry deer, which can rapidly chomp their way through a new woodland before it’s even had the chance to grow. However, tree guards aren’t without problems. They can attract vandalism, and they’re usually made of plastic. By planting trees we may think we’re doing a good thing, but without planning ahead we could also be contributing to plastic pollution. So what are the alternatives? In

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Visit your tree at Broadwood

If you took part in our tree planting day at Broadwood Loch in December you had the option to download an app and locate the exact grid reference for your tree. This means you’ll be able to chart your tree’s progress as it develops and matures, hopefully for many years to come! It will be fascinating to see how the landscape changes, and the wildlife it will bring to the area. If you left your grid reference behind for us to record we’ve added it to the map below.  

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Getting stuck in for nature

Last Thursday as many as 300 people joined Cumbernauld Living Landscape at Broadwood Loch to grab a spade and plant a tree before enjoying some festive treats round the campfire.   With it being polling day we had a steady flow of children looking for something active to do on their day off from school, and plenty of adults looking for something positive to do while anxiously awaiting the results! The previous day pupils at Carbrain Primary had set the ball rolling by planting 165 trees in their school grounds.  There’s been a lot of talk of trees in the national news recently, with political parties competing in their pledges to create new woodlands that will help tackle the climate crisis. In response, conservationists have pointed out that numbers are not enough – it’s crucial that the right trees are planted in the right places.   As a community we planted 600 trees in total, including crab apple, willow, oak and hazel. These species are all native to the area, which means that as they grow the new woodland will provide homes for the widest possible

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What is biodiversity?

We have recently been asked “what is biodiversity, and is it really important?” Well yes, it is vitally important! Biodiversity is the variety/diversity and abundance of living species and habitats on the planet, right down to the rocks that weather to become soil. It is also how these species and habitats interact with each other to boost ‘ecosystem services’ such as providing clean water and air, healthy soils and flood resilience. No matter how small, everything on the planet has a role to play. Yes that includes wasps, they are incredible at pest control! We have blogged before about the importance of not making nature sterile, of clearing woodlands of all the cut timber/brash or of cutting grass to within an inch of its life. These are vital micro habitats. The insects that decompose material also need food and shelter, just like foxes or deer. If we clear it all because we like straight lines and everything to be tidy, we are destroying habitats and creating more problems than solutions. The higher the biodiversity the more resilient and healthier our

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A red squirrel revival?

Have you ever seen a red squirrel? Imagine one darting through the treetops of Cumbernauld Glen, or scurrying around the grounds of Palacerigg. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think! As Britain’s only native squirrel species, red squirrels were once widespread throughout Scotland. It’s only in the past few decades that they have been replaced by grey squirrels, an invasive American species that was first brought to the Central Belt by the Victorians. Grey squirrels are larger, they eat more and breed more and as a result they’ve out-competed red squirrels across much of the country, including Cumbernauld. However, while red squirrels are still highly threatened, things are beginning to look up. There are still strong populations not too far away in the Highlands. Thanks to conservation work (and possibly pine martens too), the spread of grey squirrels is being managed across the Central Lowlands, helping to keep red squirrel populations stable and in some places even increase their range. One of these places just might be Cumbernauld. There have been regular sightings in the Carron Valley just a

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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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Connect to the Nectar Network

Earlier this month the team had a brilliant time at St Maurice’s Pond, bug hunting and pond dipping with a group of pupils preparing to make the leap from primary to high school. We saw all sorts of wildlife, but it was the butterflies that stole the show. So once the kids had gone and everything was quiet once more, we decided to get down to some serious counting for Butterfly Conservation’s annual ‘Big Butterfly Count’. Walking through the tall grass and vibrant wildflowers that surround the pond, we soon realised that we were going to need a bigger recording sheet! This summer saw the largest number of painted lady butterflies migrate across Scotland in a decade, and Cumbernauld was no exception. We counted a phenomenal 71 of them, plus many other species including small tortoiseshell, large white and peacock. By allowing ourselves to slow down and take notice we also came across other surprises, like a hefty elephant hawk moth caterpillar and a stunning hawker dragonfly. The whole place was teeming with life. The kind of naturalised grassland found

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Roe a deer, a female deer….fawn is running right beside

What are those deer doing? Why on earth are they fighting? As we enter the middle of the month it’s time for one of Cumbernauld’s most commonly sighted mammals to spring into action. Mid-July to mid-August is the roe deer rutting season, when males compete for territory and mates. Unlike their Red cousins the roe deer ruts much earlier in the year. As you have been walking around outside you may have noticed antlers getting bigger and coats getting much brighter in preparation for the season. If you are lucky enough to see the rut when you are out and about it’s a fantastic sight, but if like me you are walking the dog, always make sure you have them on their lead. Of course this advice isn’t just for rutting season but any time you come across wildlife. We have all seen the “Fenton” video! Someone once said to me “you will never see a fawn out and about, they’re too well hidden!” Fortunately for us, wildlife doesn’t tend to read the books about itself, as we found out

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As Above Better Below

The sound of the motorway thunders in my ears and I imagine the cars moving up and down it. What are all those people thinking about as they drive past? Are they marvelling at the road itself, this miracle of human engineering?  Oh the wonders above, but what about the wonders below? I chuckle as I move through the woods, wondering how many people know about the badger highway I’m currently following…I step on a branch and something rustles nearby, I look through the leaves of a beech tree to find a confused deer looking back at me. The roe stares for a moment, then as the wind drifts my distinctive aroma towards him, his head snaps up, he catches my scent  – and bye bye buckie! I think again how without Cumbernauld Living Landscape I would never have found or known or cared about what beauty simply lay at my front door. I think back to 6 months ago of that deep dark place I was in but force the thought away and take a deep breath and smile. I