Wildlife group

Welcome to the wildlife page.

Members: 22
Latest Activity: Mar 22

Work of the Wildlife Group

Comments for the Wildlife group are posted below this introduction to the work of the wildlife group.


Our formal ‘Victorian’ park might not seem to provide much in the way of interesting habitat for wildlife. Yet we can boast of having over 175 mature trees comprising at least 32 different species. (If you open the 'Trees' tab at the top of the Main page, you can find out more about our park trees.)

Comments for the Wildlife group are posted below this introduction to the work of the wildlife group.
Over 14 years ago an earlier wildlife group planted stretches of hedge along Effingham Road and opposite St Bart's Church made up of a mix of native tree species and flowering shrubs which have now matured. These attract a variety of birds and insects by offering them a range of food as well as nesting and shelter sites.

We have been steadily improving on this existing biodiversity. In agreement with the Parks department, we have built a pond (2007) seeded a wildflower meadow (2009) and planted additional hawthorn and blackthorn saplings (2009.) We have (2010) persuaded the Parks department to replace their previous severe hedge-cutting regime and institute instead a much more wildlife friendly approach to the cutting and management of the mature hedges which will involve less frequent cuts and allow the plants to grow significantly thicker and higher. This has to be good news for many invertebrate species as well as hedge nesting birds and birds that just use the hedge as a food resource. A shady 'woodland' area between the edge of the depot and the meadow area has been partially planted with shade loving native species: wild garlic, red campion and native bluebells (2011). A further section of this shade area will be similarly planted in 2012.

In September 2012, three diseased cherry trees were cut down in the park.  The trunks were placed in the lower corner between the depot and the shade area. As these slowly rot, they will become a rotting wood habitat, colonised, we hope, by various invertebrates and fungi that feed on and in the wood.

We organise regular morning birdwatch meetings on the third Sunday of the month, usually from September to June, to follow the changing bird populations during the year.

Photographs of the natural history of the park are regularly added to the website which record the natural wildlife and seasonal changes taking place in the park.

The south facing slope below the Bowling Green was cleared (April 2011) of the small ash trees that had seeded themselves here.  Also partial clearance and serious pruning has been carried out on the gorse,bramble,Taveller's Joy (wild clematis) and cotoneaster shrubs that had come to dominate this area.  In their place, a variety of herbaceous plants have been planted which should provide an attractive resource for insects looking for pollen and nectar. 

The following plants form the main body of the planting on the slope:

  • Fragasia vesca                                
  • Thymus drucei                                 
  • Nepeta mussinii                
  • Aubrieta deltoides              
  • Aster novii - belgii                
  • Scabiosa autopurpurea                    
  • Waldsteinia ternata                         
  • Geranium himalayense 'Gravetye'
  • Geranium Macorhizzum 'Ingwersen's Variety'

 If you would like to help in any way in developing the park as a more interesting and attractive place for wildlife, or just to be kept informed of any news and developments relating to the animals and plants of the park, then you are most welcome to join our group; please contact us through this website.

 You can find out about nature reserves managed by Bristol City Council here.

Jo Corke and Simon Randolph.

Discussion Forum

The Value of Different Tree Species for Invertebrates and Lichens

Started by Des Bowring. Last reply by Fo SAP Apr 21, 2017. 5 Replies

Here's an interesting web page that lists the most important tree species for associated invertebrates…Continue

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Comment by Fo SAP on July 6, 2021 at 16:57

Hi Emily,

You might want to send a message to the group about  about your interest in bats.

Comment by Fo SAP on January 16, 2019 at 15:10

Thanks for pointing out this work, Alison. We have compiled various lists of invertebrates in our park; I wonder how our park compares with some others. I’m sure we’re among the best, because we encourage weedy corners of native plants. Let’s plant more “weeds” and be an even better haven for wildlife. 

Comment by Alison Griffies on January 16, 2019 at 14:14

Allotments, weedy corners and fancy gardens are all urban havens for bees and other pollinators, a study has found.

The widespread decline of bees resulting from the loss of wild areas and pesticide use has caused great concern in recent years, but towns and cities have been suggested as potential sanctuaries.

The first research to examine all types of land use in cities has identified pollinators’ favourite places and flowers, many of which are often considered weeds. A team of more than 50 people spent two years examining pollinators and plants in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading.

The results enabled them to work out the best ways to support a rich mix of pollinator species that will be resilient to climate change and other challenges. The best strategy is increasing the number of allotments, the report says. Planting preferred flowers in gardens also helps, as does mowing grass in public parks less frequently, allowing flowers to bloom.

Allotments are particularly good places for pollinators because they provide a mix of fruit and vegetable flowers, plus weedy corners full of native plants. “Allotments are incredibly important at a city level, despite their small area,” said Katherine Baldock at the University of Bristol, who led the research. “They are a good place for pollinators to hang out and provide a win-win situation, as they are also good for food growing and for people’s health.”

The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, found allotments and gardens often had 10 times more bees than parks, cemeteries and urban nature reserves. Baldock said nature reserves were important for other wildlife but were often less suitable for pollinators, being dominated by trees rather than meadows.

The scientists also identified the flowers most visited by bees, hoverflies and other pollinators. Native favourites included brambles, buttercups, dandelions, creeping thistle, common hogweed and ox-eye daisies. “People tend to think of these as weeds, but they are really important for pollinators,” said Baldock.

She said gardeners had an important role to play in pollinator conservation, with the non-native plants that attracted the most pollinators being lavender, borage, butterfly bushes and common marigolds. Hydrangeas and forget-me-nots were among the least favourite. The researchers found that gardens in more affluent neighbourhoods harboured more pollinators, thanks to there being more flowers and a richer variety of plants.

Stephanie Bird, of the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “This new paper shows that gardens are a hugely important resource for pollinators in urban areas. We would encourage the UK’s 27 million gardeners to pack in a variety of plants, as not all pollinators can access the nectar of each plant, and consider introducing plants to bloom across all seasons.” The RHS is now working with the University of Bristol to find which plants produce the most nectar.

Gardens cover between a quarter and a third of cities, far more than allotments, which cover less than 1%. But increasing the area of allotments gives the biggest boost to pollinators per unit area, the study found.

Comment by Alison Griffies on April 21, 2017 at 6:25
There are several garlic mustard plants (Jack by the Hedge) on the bank near the pond. These are a food source for the larvae of orange tip butterflies. These butterflies seem common this year so hopefully there will be alot of food for their caterpillars.
Comment by Jo Corke on April 5, 2017 at 17:01
Comment by Jo Corke on June 20, 2016 at 14:36
Some of the toadpoles now have legs.
Comment by Simon Randolph on June 19, 2016 at 18:06

Well spotted, Jon. And a nice photo. I saw one of these parasitic conopid flies (S.ferrugineus) a couple of days ago in the gardens of St Peters Hospice, Brentry. Apparently the adult fly lays its eggs on bumblebees (probably while in flight) and the larva then feeds largely on the host's blood. 

Comment by Fo SAP on June 19, 2016 at 10:54

Just as well we are growing it in the wildflower meadow, then, as otherwise who would get to see it these days? For info - it is rare now but was once a very common weed of cornfields. Now virtually  extinct in wild in UK due to herbicides and that the seed of Corn-cockle does not remain viable for very long when dormant in the soil.

Comment by Jon Mortin on June 17, 2016 at 20:39

A strange-looking fly (Sicus ferrugineus) on a Corncockle flower. Corncockle are apparently practically extinct in the wild, only known from wildflower mixes such as this.

Comment by Des Bowring on June 14, 2016 at 17:36

It's really looking great - well done Alison!


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