,

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

,

Five reasons to volunteer in nature

With summer in the air and thunderstorms crashing about I thought that this would be a good time to introduce myself. I’m David, the new Project Officer with Cumbernauld Living Landscape! My job is to run volunteering activities that will improve green spaces across the town. I have a massive announcement…   Weekly volunteering groups will be starting at the beginning of September!   The groups will run every Tuesday and Thursday, starting from 3 September. Volunteers can sign up for one or two days a week depending on their preference. So why should you volunteer with Cumbernauld Living Landscape? With us you can develop your skills and enhance your employability while improving your local green spaces, experience working in a motivated and passionate team and get fit all at the same time! I’ve already had an amazing experience volunteering this week. We were out at St Maurice’s Pond, cutting back the encroaching vegetation with some HUGE scythes, allowing the public to walk freely along the paths. We also picked up a lot of broken glass at the back of

,

Leave no trace

The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seafar Wildlife Reserve is one of my favourite places in Cumbernauld to visit. The Trust is working hard to change the structure of the woodlands, helping native trees and wildflowers to flourish in the new light, open spaces. More native trees and flowers means more insects like butterflies and dragonflies, which in turn leads to more birds and mammals. Already you can see signs of this change. The reserve is popular with the public too, and because we spend a lot of time here the Wild Ways Well team feels a bit of responsibility towards it. A few weeks ago we had a litter pick and removed ten bin bags of litter, plus a family-sized inflatable paddling pool and a destroyed picnic bench, all from one tiny area. The saddest part was all the broken glass. It’s awful to think of barefooted children playing there, and of the animals who call Seafar home. Wildlife can be badly affected by litter, eating it, becoming entangled or injuring themselves. A cut paw for a badger, without access to

,

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

,

Getty Arty in the Outdoors

There are few things in the world more beautiful than the nature that is all around us. Think about the all the amazing paintings, stories, songs, poems and even films you know that are based around nature. For centuries all sorts of artists have been inspired by the natural world – the exact same natural world that’s all around you. One of the things our Wild Ways Well group likes to do is get our creative minds working in the outdoors. You don’t need to be Rembrandt or Spielberg to have a go at making art in the outdoors – even geniuses had to start somewhere! Last Thursday we took our cameras and spent a couple of hours in the wildflower meadows of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seafar Wood Wildlife Reserve; and on Saturday we went up to the Forest Wood Reserve to see the Easter Island-style Moai chainsaw sculptures that have been created there. We had a great time pottering about in the sunshine, letting the feel of these natural spaces guide us as we sketched and photographed everything we could

,

Lazy Summer Days

“It’s too hot!”  – the plaintive cry of the average Scotsperson on the first warm day of summer. Never mind all the complaints of cold from the dreich weeks before! Trees have many vital roles, but one of the most important ones for me right now is their undoubted value as a sunshade. There can surely be few more pleasant places to spend the afternoon on a summer’s day than sat beneath the shade of a tall, spreading chestnut or oak. But while we’re all slathering on suncream and dreaming of winter, perhaps we should spare a thought for those creatures for whom the sun’s warmth is vital. The trees – hopefully – will be surrounded by wildflowers, and in amongst the colourful blooms a community of butterflies and bees will be hard at work.     Lazy summer days aren’t an option for your average bumblebee. They must make the most of every warm day, foraging for pollen and nectar to ensure the survival of the next generation. Bumblebees can only fly if their flight muscles are above 30°C, and

,

Phoenix trees

Some time ago, while in the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s amazing Cumbernauld Glen reserve, I learned about a new type of tree – not a new species, but one with a new way of living. Walking through the woods I came across a fallen tree. Even knowing the value of dead wood to wildlife I still can’t help feeling sad when I see an old forest giant lying like this, the thick, gnarled trunk dug into the ground, its shattered branches splayed around, roots pointing skywards showing where the wind had torn it from the Earth. I was contemplating this when I noticed the tree wasn’t actually dead. Growing up from the trunk, in a perfect line, were living branches, each of which had formed into a perfect young tree. Some of the old giant’s roots were still in the ground, still pumping up water, energy and life. Trees like this are known as phoenix trees. They will live on as the young trees rise anew from the old. I was reminded of this recently when I had a bit of

,

Please don’t tiptoe through our bluebells

It turns out people who are trying to get the perfect photo of a bluebell are in danger of killing them off. The UK woodlands are home to approximately 50% of the world’s population of bluebells, which are incredibly delicate and beautiful flowers. Cumbernauld’s wildlife reserves, including Cumbernauld Glen, Seafar Wood and Luggiebank, feature dazzling displays of these plants, which have taken centuries to colonise in our town through a symbiotic relationship with ancient oak woodlands. Walking off the paths puts our native bluebell at risk of being destroyed by trampling. Cumbernauld Living Landscape has held a number of bluebell walks over the years. During these events I always have to regularly remind people not to walk off the path. These bluebells are vitally important plants for pollinators especially when during the false starts to spring that we have experienced here in recent years. Certain plants can shut off systems if a leaf of branch is broken, diseased or cut, this isn’t the case with our native bluebell. Damage sustained is damage retained. While this may sound like a soundbite

,

The woods are alive!

Do you ever take a wander through the woods and get that feeling in the back of your neck that you’re not alone… that you’re being watched? It sounds like the intro to a horror film, but the truth is you probably are! Luckily, the only creatures watching are likely to be foxes and deer, birds and insects. A group member recently commented that he was amazed that there was so much life in Cumbernauld’s woods. He’d just assumed that nothing would live there. But in fact our woodlands are bustling communities of life. That’s never more true than in spring. I’m sure many of us can sympathise with the lives of badgers and foxes who are currently stuck underground with their newborns, vibrant bundles of energy, growing fast, and no doubt causing trouble in their little homes. Sometimes at this time of year older badgers will actually move out and go live somewhere more peaceful for a few weeks – who can blame them! The birds are full of colour and energy, the males with their newly minted breeding

,

A journey into Cumbernauld’s wild centre

Picture an urban scene – is it full of crowds, cars and concrete? It’s no wonder that the hustle of urban life can make people feel disoriented, or even ill. Recently I found myself in Cumbernauld shopping centre feeling like I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t draw breath, was freezing cold and yet soaked in sweat. I felt dizzy, faint and unsteady, my stomach was a tight ball of fear. My heart hammered in my chest – I was having a full blown panic attack. I’m supposed to be good with panic attacks, I have all the tools, training and experience to deal with them – and yet I still lost control to a primal instinct, fight or flight, evolution’s last ditch defence. But that busy centre isn’t the only urban scene. A day later I stood a few hundred metres from that spot, but in a different world. This time I was with a group watching a pair of roe deer moving through the woods. The deer were calm as we stood quietly and I could feel