Every month we like to review the brilliant pledges tand events that have happened. This month we had Earth Day (theme 'restore our earth'), we visited Braunton to give out house martin nest cup materials and wildflower seeds and we have helped to support a new community rewilding project in South Molton. Barnstaple in Bloom also organised a brilliant 'Tidy the Taw' event. This month we have a special guest writer Bethany Lee (volunteer) who has written a section about how to enjoy the sunshine in an environmental responsible manner which ties in well with the Devon wide Naturally Healthy May campaign!
How to protect the environment while enjoying your summer!
The sun is out! The last few weeks of sunshine across the UK may mean that spring and summer are finally here, and after far too long spent indoors over the past year, we can’t wait to get out and make the most of the nice weather. Whether you like to do that by relaxing in the garden, heading out for walks in the beautiful countryside of North Devon, going on wilderness camping trips, or spending the days sunbathing by the sea, there is no doubt that getting outside into nature and enjoying the sun makes us all feel happier. Nature has amazing benefits for our mental health  and getting some vitamin D lifts the spirits too !
But while we are out enjoying all the benefits nature has to offer us, it is vitally important that we give a little something back. The UK government has recognised that we are in a climate emergency  and biodiversity levels in Britain are falling drastically , so it is more important than ever that we look after the world around us. So how can we help our local biodiversity while still enjoying the summertime?
If you’re at home in the garden, there are plenty of things to do to make your garden nature-friendly! If you’re a keen gardener, planting a wide range of flowering plants is a great way to attract pollinators. Or if you are looking for a summer DIY project, maybe build a pond or (for a slightly smaller project) a hedgehog or insect house. If that’s too much, simply leaving a little bit of your garden lawn untrimmed or letting a small patch of wildflowers grow will be beneficial to wildlife . If you have some free time,look for some citizen science projects – there are lots of these online. Many of these allow you to practice your species identification skills in your garden or local area whilst recording sightings of wildlife, which help local and national authorities know what sort of wildlife is in your area!
Out and about, the best thing you can do is to leave nature the way you found it! That means, taking all your litter home with you (and recycling it where possible!) after a nice day at the beach, or watching where you tread when out for a woodland walk . Even better, take an extra plastic bag with you when you go for a walk and do some litter picking along the way! We can often spot some great wildlife when out in North Devon or any part of the UK countryside, but try not to get too close to wild animals.
One aspect of summer that people are often less fond of is the emergence of wasps. I personally am guilty of freaking out whenever a wasp flies too close… But these insects are pretty amazing pollinators and are important for nature recovery . If a wasp has accidentally flown into your house, try and help it get back outside rather that swatting it, and just try to remember that they probably aren’t planning on stinging you when they flyover to investigate you!
There’s plenty of things we can do to help nature in our local area while we enjoy the sunshine this summer. If big creative projects or long litter-picking walks aren’t for you, that’s fine! Just remember to be considerate of wildlife when you’re out and about, and perhaps try to make small changes in your daily life to help protect the environment and tackle the climate emergency– like carrying a reusable water bottle instead of single-use plastic ones or having a few meat-free days each week. We can all do something small to help protect and conserve the nature that offers so many benefits to us!
Bethany Lee (volunteer and university student)
For more ideas see the Naturally Healthy May campaign coordinated by Devon County Council and Active Devon on behalf of the Local Nature Partnership
Top Pledges during April
- Mike Moser has made and installed 4 house martin nest cups
- Hannah in Braunton has also made two house martin nest cups to put on her house
- Ralph and his Dad are building a bug hotel in their back garden in Chivenor.
- The Chulmleigh Community have installed 8 double house martin nest cups and swift nest boxes ready for their return from now!
- Sally in Highampton has made and installed 6 house martin nest cups.
- Over 20 families in Braunton took home materials to make house martin nest cups as well as wildflower seeds.
- Devon Birds has planted 45 native tree species with biodegradable guards and stakes on their site near Barnstaple.
- Karen has create a large bee and bug house and creating a wildflower patch in her garden in Stoke Rivers.
- Martin in Fairy Cross has installed a bird box in their garden
- Tony in Chulmeligh has installed a combined swift and bat box and has set his swift lure calling (lure's can be bought for ~£20 from Swift Conservation website)
What's happening in May
If you are taking part in no mow may this year, print off our posters to encourage your neighbours to put their mowers away too!
Plantlife studies have shown that you could boost nectar production by up to TEN TIMES by cutting your lawn every 4 weeks.
Where to see Bluebells in northern Devon? (Thanks to Paul Madgett for the info):
The early flowering of bluebells allows them to make the most of the sunlight that is still able to make it to the forest floor habitat. Native bluebells are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 so please don’t pick or uproot the plants and be careful not to trample over woodland flowers in general!
The main ways to tell the difference between a native bluebell and a Spanish bluebell is that native bluebells have flowers on ONE SIDE of their drooping stem and have a sweet scent whereas Spanish bluebells have flowers all around the upright stem and have no scent.
- Harford Wood, north of Landkey – approach from Landkey village (roughly half-hourly bus from Barnstaple in day-time) via the Millenium Green – the Mazzard orchard there should be coming into its full glory about now.
- Brownsham Woods, a little west of Clovelly – NT car-park is shown on OS 1:25k map – footpath runs down the valley to the east(loop walk possible within the woods).
- Kinever valley, north of Mortehoe village (buses available from both Barnstaple and Ilfracombe to Mortehoe in daytime) – walk from the village car-park (charge, if using this) down the road towards Bull Point lighthouse; just over a kilometre along this is a stile to right, with FP down into a valley. At bottom of valley turn left following the stream down to the coast.
- Hillsborough, Ilfracombe (regular bus service from Bideford and Barnstaple, runs in evening as well as day-time) – variety of footpaths over and around the hill, great sea-views, including across Ilfracombe Harbour. Car-parking available by the Swimming Pool (charge).Best bluebells are alongside paths on the west side of the hill; can do a circular walk – see maps on site.
Apr 4, 2021
A summary of the nature related events happening across the North Devon Biosphere in February, March and April. This page will be updated regularly. Photo: A Bee's View, the Gaia Trust
Apr 1, 2021
Every month we like to review the brilliant pledges that people have made - there's been loads of fantastic pledges this month well done everybody! We also introduce the new April-June seasonal activities and challenge you to hear/see the some of the first signs of Spring.
Mar 1, 2021
Every month we like to review the brilliant pledges that people have made as well as what look wildlife and nature to look out for. This month we have a special guest writer, Sally Vergette a farmer from Highampton has written about the efforts they have made on their farm to make it more wildlife friendly.
2020 Award Winners Community Champions
Jan 30, 2021
Over the past year there have been many brilliant people in the North Devon Biosphere who have led on brilliant initiatives for nature and wildlife in their local area. From leading community group meetings, creating habitats and spreading the word we are thankful to these people for stepping up and supporting others.
To Our Biosphere
Make Space for Nature
More Community Action
Protect North Devon's Future