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.
October's theme - Food and family
Celebrate ‘Apple Day’ on 21 October with your friends or family by simply using local apples to cook a fruit pie, crumble or make delicious apple chips. Apple chips are a healthy snack – thinly sliced fruit that are lightly sprinkled with cinnamon, then baked until pleasantly crisp.
In 1990, dismayed by the loss of so many traditional orchards and amazed at the 3,000 or so varieties of apples that have been grown over time in the UK, an organisation called Common Ground set out to create a new celebration of our most versatile fruit and the beautiful orchards they come from. It would simply be called ‘Apple Day’ and, since then, Common Ground have worked to extend, support and promote Apple Day events countrywide.
Apple Day is all about living better with nature – it shows how we can have our trees, bees, bats, butterflies, birds and badgers whilst growing good fruit to eat and drink.
If you want to get involved in helping pollinators and growing food, contact your local community garden or orchard.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Use 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 contact the Council’s Community Nature Officer.
September's theme - Autumn wildlife
September is a month of great change for wildlife. As summer begins to make way for autumn the nature around us adapts to its changing surroundings.
For many plants, insects and some mammals, autumn is a time of slowing down, of shutting down. It’s all about changing where and how they live in preparation for the great annual emergency - winter.
For many birds it’s about arrivals and departures, some flying south in pursuit of food and warmth, while others arrive from the Arctic for a mellower winter.Find out more about bird migration on the RSPB website.
During autumn the days are rapidly getting shorter and the sun is becoming lower in the sky. The autumn equinox, when day and night are of equal length, is on 23 September.
There are often spectacular sunsets in autumn, the stars can seem brighter at night, and on some mornings mist hangs over fields and parks.
This is a time of nature's plenty, with a wonderful hedgerow harvest of blackberries, rose hips, crab apples, hazelnuts and seeds. Many of our much loved creatures take advantage of this wild harvest to build up reserves of fat for migration or for hibernation.
Can you take a note of the signs of autumn, from ripe berries, acorns and conkers to leaves changing colour?
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.
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.
Find out more about autumn wildlife gardening
Community nature leaflet
You can download our community nature leaflet here as an overview of how you can get started connecting with nature.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bicester Green Gym (https://www.bicestergreengym.org/) and Grassroots Bicester (email@example.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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Wildlife spotting and activity sheets
Check out these wildlife spotting and activity sheets.
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?
The Council’s lead member for health and wellbeing, Cllr McHugh, has successfully filmed these prickly creatures in his garden.
Find out more
More information about hedgehogs is available from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
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.
You can see nesting swifts on the Sibfords nestbox webcams.
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 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.