Our first meeting was in March 2012, when nine people met up to plan what a wildlife group could do in Kineton. We decided to start with some walks around the village, including a walk up to the millenium wood, Kingstree Wood, and a bat walk!
Several members attended a very interesting talk by Dr Jeff Ollerton, in Pillerton Priors, organised by bee-keeper Tim Newcombe. The topic was bees as pollinators, and what we can do in our gardens to support bees, butterflies and other insects. I went out to the garden centre to buy ‘pollinator friendly’ plants almost straight away! See this page for more information about pollinators and what we can do in our gardens.
In April we met at the Kineton Community Orchard (at the Sports and Social Club grounds), to see how the new orchard was establishing, to see what wild flowers were coming up after the grass had been ploughed for the tree planting, and to sow some poppy seeds. Bumble bees were seen collecting pollen from a healthy patch of Red Dead-nettle flowers, so it was good to see that the orchard was already making a contribution to biodiversity!
Also in April, the primary school agreed to ask the mowers to leave several patches of the grounds unmown, to let the wild flowers grow, as a survey had shown that there were about a hundred different plant species growing on the site! The flowers will look lovely, but perhaps more importantly, they will be able to provide pollen and nectar for bees, hoverflies and butterflies. An unexpected find was of several orchid rosettes, which had not been noticed before (for more, see the primary school field page).
Pollinating insects are under threat because of changing farming practices, and the lack of pollinators could become a problem for our food supplies, as many of our food plants rely on insect pollinators. Grassland like the primary school field, which has not had added fertilisers, still contains many of the hay meadow species that used to be so common in the countryside. We will be watching with great interest to see how the field develops over the summer. In the autumn it will be mown, and it is important to remove the mowings, to keep the soil relatively low in nutrients, so the coarse grasses and plants such as docks and nettles don’t take over.
The Oxhill Wildlife Society (‘OWLS’) invited our members to a talk that they were having about swifts, and several of us went along. It was another very fascinating subject and we learnt lots, including what to do if we find a swift on the ground (swifts do not normally land on the ground at all – they even sleep while flying!). We were told that a swift on the ground has very possibly damaged its wings, so it should never be thrown into the air. The speaker, Gillian Westray, looks after injured swifts and the majority of them recover and return to the wild. See the ‘Other organisations‘ tab for more information.