Connect with nature

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.

GET READY for June’s theme – 30 Days Wild

30 Days Wild 2021 is the UK’s one and only month-long nature challenge from The Wildlife Trusts.

The challenge invites everyone to do something wild every day in June, connecting us all with the beauty and wonder of our natural world.

That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting random acts of wildness such as listening to birdsong, planting seeds, taking a wild photograph, building a bug hotel or simply jumping in puddles.

Sign up for free here and you'll receive a pack of goodies to help you plan your wild month, plus lots of ideas to inspire you to stay wild all throughout June (and beyond!). 

There are special packs for schools, care homes and businesses – so anyone can have a go! 

30 Days Wild really does make us feel happier and healthier!

Over the past five years, data has been analysed to measure the impact of the challenge on participants.

You can view the survey responses on the Wildlife Trusts website. More than 1,000 people over five years have been evaluated and the enduring effects on wellbeing from participation in 30 Days Wild are obvious – the positive effects are still felt two months after the challenge is over. 

May's theme - mindful May

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.

Birds

Look out for swifts as they arrive back in Britain from Africa at the beginning of May. 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.

To find out how you can help go to the Swift conservation tab on this webpage and view the wild about high fliers leaflet about swifts, swallows and martins.

Watch and listen closely to a whole range of birds:

Hedgehogs

Hedgehog Awareness Week is 1 May to 7 May

Make your garden hedgehog friendly and look out for visitors. Create a hedgehog hole in your garden fence and/or build a hedgehog home - more information is available on the BBOWT website.

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

For lots of ideas, activities and resources to help you connect with nature during Mindful May, check out the other tabs on this webpage, particularly the ‘wildlife spotting and activity sheets’.


Swift conservation

Our swifts come back from Africa in late May 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. Swift Awareness week is celebrated every year in July.

How can you help?

The population of Swifts is nearly 60 per cent lower than it was 25 years ago.  In 2021 it was moved onto the Red list of birds of greatest conservation concern (along with house martins and green finches) because of this decline. So Swifts 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 buildings through the planning process. Swift bricks can be included in the fabric of new buildings, including home extensions, and nest boxes can be fitted to existing 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. If you are interested in putting up a nest box, or including Swift bricks in a new build project, Chris is able to advise on what, where and how.

Email: mason@cando.eclipse.co.uk

Nesting swifts

You can see nesting swifts on the Sibfords Swifts nestbox webcams.

To find out more about these amazing birds, why they matter and how you can help them, visit the swift-conservation website


Wildlife spotting and activity sheets

For lots of ideas, activities and resources to help you connect with nature during Mindful May. Check out these wildlife spotting and activity sheets:


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


Taking action for wildlife at home

Imagine a wilder world on your doorstep, with more nature everywhere in urban and rural areas. There are plenty of ways to take action for wildlife at home. Whether you are an individual, part of a group, a business or a school, by taking just one action for nature, no matter how small, you can make an impact and invite more wildlife back into our lives. 

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.

The Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (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.

BBOWT has a bold vision and are inviting people to be part of Team Wilder.

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.

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.

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.


Community Gardens

Throughout the year people come together to grow food in community gardens, on allotments and in their gardens or green space, as well as growing plants to provide food, shelter and homes for wildlife. Please join in and let us know what you’ve been doing to grow your own food and help wildlife.

10 easy steps to growing your own food

Nothing beats the taste of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in your own window box, green patch or garden - or the satisfaction and enjoyment you can get from doing it.

Not sure what to grow or where to start? Here are 10 easy steps to growing your own food.

Grow a wildlife friendly vegetable patch

Can you imagine a garden or greenspace without the busy buzz of bees? Or a summer without ladybirds, butterflies and baby birds? Our wild visitors are what make our gardens such special places. Not only that, these places are a vital refuge from the pressures wildlife faces elsewhere. Find out how to grow a wildlife friendly vegetable patch.

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. It’s also a wellbeing space with comfy benches and a hexagonal shelter where people can just come at any time, sit in peace and enjoy nature.

Forthcoming free events: please check their social media channels, Instagram and Facebook  for updates, potential additional events, unlikely unforeseen changes or cancellations. 

Sign up for updates from Bridge Street Community Garden or get in touch via email banburycag@gmail.com.

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

Other Green Spaces in Bicester

The Health Routes, funded by NHS England, are part of the Bicester Healthy New Town Programme. A key aim of the programme is to increase physical activity amongst residents.

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, please email harvestathome@gmail.com

Find a community garden

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

Find a community orchard

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

If you are interested in support and funding to help establish a community orchard, please email the Council’s Community Nature Officer, sue.marchand@cherwell-dc.gov.uk


Wild Projects

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 (email langfordcommunityorchard@yahoo.co.uk), Bicester Green Gym  and Grassroots Bicester (email 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 at community@bbowt.org.uk.


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.


Community nature leaflet

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


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.