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Fabulous Foraging

As we start to approach the end of summer we’re entering one of the traditional times for foraging amazing, healthy food in the outdoors. Over the last while the Wild Ways Well groups have been trying our hand at this ancient past-time and seeing what’s on the menu around Cumbernauld. One of our first attempts was actually our most complex, when we worked with the Neighbourhood Networks group to make nettle soup over a campfire. Nettles are ‘superweeds’, which are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals. It is especially known for its high iron content. The seeds can be eaten too and I recommend roasted and added to your porridge. You can harvest the leaves with or without gloves. We came across fruits too, wild cherry and lovely wild strawberries. Unfortunately, the raspberries, although numerous, will likely not ripen this year: they are stone-dry on the plants. We obeyed another golden rule of foraging – always pick your food above dog height! We made teas from nettles, elderflower, meadowsweet and yarrow. Some of these can be drunk just

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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,

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Responsible Wildlife Walking

Wild Ways Well went for a wander this week, taking the loop down through Cumbernauld Glen.  The incessant rain and snowmelt have transformed calm streams into rivers of fast murky water.  We watched a dipper for a while as it stood on a rock, its characteristic motion showing where it got its name.  It’ll be a long wait for the water to settle before it can properly swim and feed. It’s a hard time for wildlife right now.  Later on our walk we came across a beautiful Roe Deer grazing just a few feet away.  It watched us warily as it ate but hunger overcame fear and it tolerated our presence.  Not for long though as a pair of dogs appeared, running off the leash, and chased the deer away through the woodlands. The dogs didn’t catch the deer but that isn’t the point, the chase is damage enough.  The deer’s life right now is balanced on a knife edge, juggling calories gained by eating against those expended in the struggle to stay alive.  Being chased means it isn’t eating,

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Taking Notice of Nature

Our Wild Ways Well group had a great time exploring the Cumbernauld Glen this week despite the weather! We had rain, hail, sleet and sunshine all in the space of a couple of hours, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We headed to the Glen from the town centre and enjoyed a leisurely walk brisk enough to keep us warm. Not stopping for our usual cup of tea due to the wet weather, we instead occupied ourselves with the ‘Take Notice’ and ‘Keep Learning’ aspect of the Five Ways Well by immersing ourselves in the nature around us whilst we walked. A couple of members of our group are becoming avid ‘twitchers’ and are improving upon their bird song recognition every week. We were lucky enough to spot many interesting birds on our walk including a Dipper and a Tree Creeper. A Tree Creeper is a bird often missed by many due to its small size and camouflaged mottled plumage that resembles tree bark. However, once you spot this little gem it is hard to mistake it for anything else.

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Wild Ways Well 2018

Have you broken any New Year’s resolutions yet? We’re barely into the first week of 2018 and I’ve broken most of mine, which generally focus around eating less chocolate and bacon rolls. Why do I set myself such impossible goals? Time markers can be stressful events for many people. For those of us with depression they can be used as convenient sticks to beat ourselves with – blaming ourselves for not having achieved enough over the previous year being a common theme. Resolutions can be dangerous things, setting impossible goals that we cannot accomplish is not good for our mental wellbeing. But there is one resolution we could all make, and that most of us could achieve. Get outside more! Spending time outdoors, among nature, is proven to make people feel better about their lives. Cumbernauld Living Landscape can help with this. We’ll be running our Wild Ways Well sessions every Thursday afternoon throughout 2018. We’ll go for a leisurely walk through one of Cumbernauld’s wildlife reserves, learning about nature and conservation as we go. We’ll stop to brew a

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Natural Connections – The dangers of garden escapes

New Zealand flat worm – Invasive non-native species

The Cumbernauld Living Landscape team have been hard at work recently working with volunteers to make improvements to Ravenswood Local Nature Reserve.  Part of this job has involved digging up some of the garden escape plants that have found their way onto the site and replacing them with native wildflowers.

We had hoped that some of the plants we removed could have been donated to volunteers and local charities, however while we were digging we made a very unpleasant discovery – New Zealand Flatworms.

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Natural Connections – Wildlife Watch fun

Wildlife Watch leader Sharon helping the kids with identification

Not long now until the kids are back at school and while some of you may think yeah! Other may still be looking for activities for them to do in these last few weeks.  Look no more, the Cumbernauld Living Landscape intern has teamed up with two potential new Wildlife Watch leaders for the area and they are delivering pop up Watch days for the kids.

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Looking for funding?

Looking for funding towards environmental improvements in your local area?

Greggs are distributing the money raised through the carrier bag tax to small groups and school who wish to improve their local environment.

You can find out more here –  https://www.greggsfoundation.org.uk/large-environmental-grants

Grants range from £2500 to £10,000 and all projects must benefit the environment.

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Jobs fayre in Cumbernauld

Sanctuary Housing is hosting a Jobs Fayre in Fleming House (ground floor) on the 28th of January from 11am – 3pm.  You can find out more about the fayre on our Facebook Events page.

 

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Natural Connections – To sleep or not to sleep…

© Amy Lewis

Unless you have been away on holiday or snuggled up in your home for quite a while you will have noticed the drop in temperature in the last month.  This dip in temperature change triggers survival mechanisms for some of our wildlife in Cumbernauld such as hedgehogs, badgers, squirrels, pine martens, bats and other small rodents.  There are a few mechanisms but for now we talk about two, torpor and hibernation which are vital for these animals to survive the winter.