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 by establishing a Wild Communities Calendar.

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.

July's theme: Big butterfly count

Get involved in this year’s Big Butterfly Count and contribute to the world’s largest survey that will help butterflies to thrive.

The Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count will take place between Friday 16 July and Sunday 8 August. Taking part is easy – find a sunny spot and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see. Use the handy identification guide and submit sightings to the count. The Butterfly Conservation is encouraging people to use their chart to spot and record 18 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during the three week period.

View Big Butterfly Count

After the record-breaking temperatures experienced in the UK, the chances of people seeing a wide range of butterflies is significantly higher. However, as a result of the early summer heatwaves followed by wetter weather, the butterflies could struggle. Butterfly scientists will use the data from the three week Count to assess where conservation efforts should be targeted in the future. The data is crucial to specialists wanting to learn more about the population and habits of various butterflies.

Benefits to mental health

The mental health charity Mind is supporting the Big Butterfly Count, as it acknowledges the numerous benefits that nature has on wellbeing. Sir David Attenborough has also promoted the importance of butterfly watching for mental health, encouraging the public to take part:

“Spending time with nature offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life; it enables us to experience joy and wonder, to slow down and to appreciate the wildlife that lives side-by-side with us.”


Find out more about butterflies and moths

Learn more about the different kinds of butterflies and moths found across the UK.

Visit Butterfly Conservation


Become a member

Sign up to become a member of your local branch of Butterfly Conservation

Sign up


Community gardens and greenspaces

If you want to get involved in helping pollinators and growing food, contact your local community garden.

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 summer with trees, grass, flowers and fruit. Enjoy the breeze, birdsong and buzzing insects. Have a picnic and relax. Or 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 3rd 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 

Find contact details


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.

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


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


Find out more

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


Swift walks

To celebrate Swift Awareness Week (3-11 July), some evening swift walks have been organised in the Cherwell District. You'll learn more about this fascinating bird with local enthusiast and co-ordinator of the Cherwell swifts conservation project, Chris Mason.

The walks are free but places are limited and booking is essential:

Banbury - Wednesday 7 July at 7:30pm

A joint Cherwell swifts conservation project and Banbury CAG (Community Action Group) event.  

Book Banbury walk

Bicester - Monday 12 July 7:30pm to 9:00pm

A joint Cherwell swifts conservation project, Grassroots Bicester and BBOWT (Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust) event

Book Bicester walk


Nesting swifts

You can see nesting swifts on the Sibfords nestbox webcams.

View nests


Wild Bicester

Our plan coincides with a new project being launched in Bicester, promoting biodiversity, health and wellbeing.

Wild Bicester is based on a similar model developed to Wild Banbury by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), with the support of Banbury Town Council and Cherwell District Council, encouraging residents to take part in projects to protect and improve the wildlife in their local area.

The scheme is co-funded by Healthy Bicester, Bicester Garden Town and the council’s wellbeing team, due to the importance the project places on developing sociable healthy neighbourhoods while enhancing the natural environment of the town.

Wild Bicester has already formed early relationships with environmental groups in the town, including Langford Community Orchard and Bicester Green Gym, using their experience and expertise to help lay the foundations of the programme.


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.