Connect with nature

Spending quality time with nature can reduce stress, balance your mood and help you feel more positive. Take a moment to notice nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you see on your daily walk or in your garden. 

We are encouraging people to connect with nature throughout the year. Every month will have a different theme and we will be promoting resources and activities on this page as well as publicising related projects and events. Please join in and let us know what you’ve been doing to connect with nature and help wildlife.

December's theme - Festive flora and fauna

Spotting plants (flora) and animals (fauna) in winter is fun and festive but days are short so you’ll have to make the most of when you’re awake.

The short days can be hard for wildlife – for many creatures finding enough food to survive takes up almost every hour of daylight. Find out how you can help wildlife this winter.

If you are looking for some festive activity inspiration, there are lots of resources on offer, from seasonal nature spotting sheets to fun craft ideas that you can do at home. Why not become a festive wildlife detective or make a Christmas wreath for birds?

Wildlife Watch Winter

November’s theme - Be Kind

Kindness Day UK  on 13 November fits well with nature’s calendar and the need for all of us to be kind and help nature thrive during the winter months.

It’s very important to check your bonfires thoroughly before lighting them as hedgehogs (and other wildlife) may be using them for hibernation, or as a place of refuge from the elements.

If you'd like to make a home for hedgehogs in your garden, check out the RSPB guide on building a cosy hog home. Also the food we provide is most important to birds during winter, when natural food sources are few and far between.

All of your regular garden visitors will flock in to feast, so make sure you keep your feeders clean and full.

Keep an eye out for hibernating ladybirds. They like wedging themselves in windowsills so take care when cleaning. Also, be careful not to disturb any hibernating butterflies that could be lurking in a quiet corner of the house.

As the nights draw in, it’s time to dig those thick coats out of the cupboard. November provides us with some amazing wildlife to discover – and there’s plenty to see right on your doorstep - take a look at the RSPB website for ideas. 

Crisp autumn days are full of colour as the leaves turn red and gold. Toadstools pop up from the floor like fairy-tale towers and animals fatten up eating brightly-coloured berries.

Go to the Wild Life Watch website to discover fun wildlife spotter sheets, guides to help you be kind to birds and hedgehogs and the top five things to look for when you are out and about.

Nature's Calendar

Noticing nature is great for health and wellbeing and recording your seasonal sightings will help you enjoy being outdoors in your local greenspace as well as help scientists track the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife.

Take part in Nature’s Calendar this autumn and become a nature detective.

From leaf buds bursting to blackberries ripening, note down what’s happening near you and help scientists discover answers to their wildlife questions.

Help and discover wildlife

If you want to help wildlife get through the winter, discover 10 simple things to do in the your outdoor space or garden in autumn.

As autumn turns to winter, many of us pack up our gardening tools and head indoors, paying little attention to our outdoor space again until spring. However, even in the depths of winter, our gardens should be bustling with life.

Throughout winter, gardens across the country continue to provide a lifeline for many of our native species, especially if we make a few easy adjustments that will make all the difference to the wildlife on our doorstep during the colder months.

Discover 10 simple things

Find out more about autumn wildlife gardening

Community Gardens

Bridge Street Community Garden

Banbury Community Action Group’s Bridge Street Community Garden is situated in the heart of the town. All those involved in caring for the garden are volunteers. From first-time sowers to seasoned growers, everyone is welcome to join in the regular events which are held in the garden space.

Get in touch

Bicester Community Garden

Bicester Community Garden is a magical oasis for people, gardening and wildlife located in the centre of the town at the old St.Edburg’s School. Please get in touch either to volunteer some time or just to visit the garden to chill and listen to the birdsong.

Contact Bicester Community Garden

Langford Community Orchard, Bicester

This is a great place to wander round in the autumn with trees, grass and fruit. Enjoy the breeze, birdsong and buzzing insects. Why not get your hands dirty and help to maintain this beautiful green space. New volunteers are always welcome to join in the activities. Meetings happen once a month on the third Sunday for two-hour sessions, either 10.30-12.30 or 2-4pm.

Contact Langford Community Orchard

Green spaces in Kidlington

Community garden projects are being developed in two of Kidlington’s green spaces by Harvest@Home

If you are interested in getting involved in growing food in Ron Groves Park or Parkhill Recreation Ground, then we want to hear from you

Email Harvest @ Home

Find a community garden

To find out if there is a community garden in your village or nearby, contact your Parish Clerk.

Contact Parish Clerk

Find a community orchard

Use the Orchard Network to find out more about community orchards and if there is one near you.

View the Orchard Network

If you are interested in support and funding to help establish a community orchard, please contact the Council’s Community Nature Officer.

Contact us

Community nature leaflet

You can download our community nature leaflet here as an overview of how you can get started connecting with nature.


Wild Bicester

Nature needs to be part of everybody’s everyday lives and restoring nature can be the greatest generator of hope and happiness’ says Ed Munday, the Wild Bicester project officer.

Wild Bicester is based on a similar model developed in Banbury (Wild Banbury) by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), encouraging residents to take part in projects to help the wildlife in their local area as well as improve their health and wellbeing.

Wild Bicester is working in partnership with key environmental groups in the town, including Langford Community Orchard (langfordcommunityorchard@yahoo.co.uk), Bicester Green Gym (https://www.bicestergreengym.org/) and Grassroots Bicester (grassrootsbicestercag@gmail.com) using their experience and expertise to build the programme of volunteer, wildlife conservation and training activities and opportunities in the town.

Wild Bicester has produced some attractive resources to help people connect with nature and wildlife to thrive. Three postcards highlight ‘Five ways to wild wellbeing’, how to ‘Help wildlife where you live’ and the ‘Top ingredients of a successful wildlife garden’. They give clear information about how nature can improve your mental and physical health, what actions you can easily take to support the wildlife on your doorstep and top tips on making your window box, outside space or garden wildlife-friendly. The cards have been designed to emphasise key messages, signpost you to a range of resources and ideas to help you enjoy the great outdoors and then be displayed on your noticeboard or used as a colourful bookmark.If you would like hard copies of the cards, contact the Wild Bicester Project Officer -  community@bbowt.org.uk


Taking action for wildlife at home

There are plenty of ways to take action for wildlife at home. The Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), the Woodland Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are sharing lots of great resources to help keep individuals and families active and engaged with nature.

BBOWT

BBOWT tells you how to help wildlife in your garden including how to:

  • Build a nesting box for birds
  • Plant flowers for bees and pollinators
  • Build a hedgehog home and create a hedgehog hole.
  • Just add water as a simple birdbath can be a lifesaver for garden wildlife.

Visit BBOWT


RSPB

The RSPB gives you ideas for activities and will help you to plan simple tasks ‘perfect for your patch’ whether it is a window box, outdoor space or garden. 

Visit RSPB


Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust has gathered some ideas to help you and your family enjoy a summer visit to a wood near you. Woodland Trust woods in Cherwell include:

  • Stratfield Brake in Kidlington
  • Stoke Wood (Stoke Lyne) near Bicester
  • Daeda’s Wood near Deddington.

View Woodland Trust


Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre

You can also share your wildlife sightings with staff at the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) who will add them to their database and make sure your records are used in local-decision making.

Visit TVERC


Nature scavenger hunts

Nature scavenger hunts are a great way to add fun to family walks and explore local greenspaces. Head to the park on a summer’s day and look out for brightly coloured flowers, spotty ladybirds or nibbled leaves. Look out for different colours in nature or count the number of sounds you can hear. Or be ‘crafty’ and use fallen leaves, petals, sticks and pebbles to build towers or make patterns.

Learn more about scavenger hunts


Wildlife spotting and activity sheets

Check out these wildlife spotting and activity sheets. 

Spot it sheets

Wildlife Watch activities


Hedgehogs

Make your garden hedgehog friendly and watch out for visitors. Why not talk to your neighbours about creating a hedgehog hole in your garden fence or build a hedgehog home?

Build a hedgehog home

Hedgehog video

The Council’s lead member for health and wellbeing, Cllr McHugh, has successfully filmed these prickly creatures in his garden.

Watch video

Oxfordshire Mammal Group

Find out about a variety of mammals in the County including the hedgehog. In Oxfordshire, hedgehogs (listed as European hedgehog) are widespread but declining and known records can be seen on this County map

Kirtlington Hedgehog Street

Kirtlington Hedgehog Street is connecting gardens in the village to give hedgehogs enough space to breed and to help keep them off the roads. Why don’t you create a hedgehog street in your local area?

More about hedgehogs

More information about hedgehogs is available from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Visit British Hedgehog Preservation Society


Swift conservation

Our swifts are back from Africa and quite possibly there will be some nesting near where you live. You may see them when out walking, flying low over roof-tops or making screaming calls as they go. No other British bird behaves like this. It’s an indication there are nest sites nearby. You might even be lucky enough to spot one returning to its nest hole under the eaves of a building.

How can you help?

The population of Swifts is nearly 60% lower than it was 25 years ago. They need all the help we can provide or they will vanish from the UK. In colder wet weather they feed over local ponds, lakes and reservoirs but on fine days they will be high overhead, feasting on flying insects.

Noting down when and where you see swifts can help the Cherwell swifts conservation project by increasing knowledge of local populations, enabling the protection of nest sites and asking for new ones in new buildings. Please send any records of birds going into nests, screaming parties and low-flying swifts to Chris Mason, the co-ordinator of the Cherwell swifts conservation project.

Contact Chris


Nesting swifts

You can see nesting swifts on the Sibfords nestbox webcams.

View nests


Wild Parishes

Do you want to take positive steps for wildlife in your parish? BBOWT are collaborating with a number of partners to support parish councillors, clerks and volunteers to discover how they can improve the local area for wildlife and residents.

Wild Oxfordshire's webinar series showcases Oxfordshire’s grassroots nature recovery projects and aims to inspire others to take action in their community.

View webinars


Community Nature Plan 2020-22

Our Community Nature Plan sets out how we will contribute towards looking after the natural environment for wildlife and people. It includes aims, actions and targets relating to health and wellbeing, planning and sustainable development, climate action and land and buildings management.

We provide support for projects which help to protect and enhance the District's habitats and species as well as provide opportunities for community involvement. We work in partnership with others to focus attention and resources on green spaces and the natural environment.