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A bug’s eye view of volunteering

We were marching through the woods. The sun bursting through the trees, the cold air sucked into our lungs. My volunteers had entered a new area of Cumbernauld Glen; unveiled before their eyes. In this space they saw what first appeared to be a void; the last vestiges of winter still clinging onto the forest. I prompted them to take a closer look. Spring had already sprung! Snowdrops erupting through the soil with crocuses not far behind, painting a dash of colour across the woodland floor. We investigated the glare of the light and saw a goldfinch dart across. We cupped our ears upward to hear a cacophony of bullfinches, coal tits and robins singing their song. As our eyes slalomed down the trunk of the imperious Scots pine, we saw its delicate tangerine hues embellished by the light. My feet crunched the beech seed casings below my feet.  My volunteers were startled as their feet also crunched these fuzzy little casings. I told them the story of one of our previous Project Officers, who liked munching away on these

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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

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What can we do about rubbish?

Litter. Everyone hates it, and yet it remains one of our biggest environmental problems. From the cigarette ends and dog poo bags to fly-tipped furniture, it seems like litter is everywhere in our woodlands, parks and streams. No doubt you’ll have heard aware of the waste epidemic in ours sea, but did you know that an estimated 80% of this marine litter is a result of irresponsible disposal on land? So, who is responsible and more importantly who should be cleaning it up? Well to be honest we all are, and we all should! It takes a few seconds to make a difference by pick some litter up and binning it or taking it home. We often get comments that we should do more to clean up our local reserves. What people don’t realise at times is that charities such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust only have limited resources. This has to go towards on the ground conservation work, from planting trees to working on important projects like reintroducing the beaver. We do what we can to deal with fly-tipping and

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The work never stops for our Nature Ninjas

This weekend on Sunday 3 March Cumbernauld Living Landscape has a volunteer day from 12-4pm at Cumbernauld Glen reserve, as part of our Creating Natural Connections project. Our Nature Ninja volunteers have a number of tasks to do this year, such as trimming back the snowberry, removing grass and overgrown weeds, and clearing leaves off the path. Keeping the path clear helps keep things safe for visitors and also shows off features such as the historic wall. We plan to cut back branches that are hanging over the fence and create small piles of habitat for nesting birds. Once the sap has risen in the hazel has risen we’ll be coppicing some of these trees – a traditional practice that spurs new growth and gives us material for wooden hurdles and other features. And, sadly, we always have a job to do to keep on top of litter. Volunteering is a great way to connect with the natural world. It’s a good excuse to get outdoors and get active, and there are few things as satisfying as enjoying a hot

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Summer Days

After the warm weather in early summer you might be forgiven for thinking autumn had arrived early recently. It’s been a topsy-turvy year weather wise and there’s no doubt that some parts of nature are as confused as I am. Early summer plants like cowslips are coming back into flower over recent weeks and I’m still seeing breeding behaviour going on with some bird species. The truth is that there’s still plenty of quality time left in the year. There’s still time for flowers to bloom and, if they’re lucky, even for birds to raise a family. We can learn a lesson from the optimism of the cowslips and the blackbirds, they’re prepared to gamble on the good times still to come and so should we. There’s still time for picnics and fun times in the sunshine. The Sunday volunteers were out last weekend in the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seafar Wood reserve conducting another litter pick. We were there back in spring doing the same thing but unfortunately this is a task that needs to be regularly repeated. Litter is

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Not so fantastic plastic

If you’re a nature lover like me then you were probably glued to your TV during Blue Planet 2. The new findings from this series have been incredible, from attaching cameras to whale-sharks to help find where they give birth to their pups, to the first ever footage of an amazing fish that preys on seabirds. However, the last show of the series left me sad and disappointed that we are still causing no end of harm to our oceans with an increasing tide of plastic finding its way into the sea. You may think here in Cumbernauld that we are miles away from this problem, but sadly that’s not the case. Every day wet wipes, cotton-buds and all manner of plastics and other waste are either flushed down toilets, dropped as litter, or deliberately fly-tipped in towns all over across Scotland including our own. Plastic waste takes a very long time to break down, and once it’s in the water its not difficult for it to make its way into the sea. There are some very simple ways to