We’ve enjoyed a busy summer of Family Fun Days and fantastic experiences during our popular Walking Festival. Now we look forward to enjoying the autumn colours of Bathscape. A big thank you to everyone who has enjoyed the Bathscape with us and for all those fantastic volunteers and partners who continue to care for it! For some summer highlights and some tips on spotting nature – read on!
Bathscape Walking Festival 2022
Over 1000 people joined us for the Bathscape Walking Festival this September. A whole new bunch of walks and some returning favourites. We heard about Bath’s radical history, how the city dealt with eighteenth century epidemics, how council estates were built between the wars, how a Georgian visitor spent their time and lots more. People have been sending us their feedback and ideas for improvement and new walks for next year.
Thank you to all our walk leaders and walkers. We’ll start planning the 2023 Festival in the new year, so get ready with your ideas.
If you got the walking bug, don’t forget our resources will stay there all year round – you can get inspired to Explore here, or see our Walking Festival self-guided resources. Plus our regular walks are here and here.
Inspired by the walking festival? Or do you know someone who would benefit from some gentle exercise, the chance to enjoy outdoors spaces and to meet new people?
Our Thursday Wellbeing Walks run in conjunction with Bath Mind. These hour-long, gentle walks are open to all but particularly aimed at those experiencing mental ill health or those wanting to take small steps to improve their physical health. The walks are reasonably flat, usually wheelchair/buggy accessible and walkers go at their own pace.
The walks start at 11am from Monksdale Road Allotments, BA2 2JD. For more info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org And please pass on the details to anyone you think may benefit from attending.
Sustainability Fair at University of Bath
This Freshers Week we met some fantastically enthusiastic students and colleagues during the University of Bath Sustainability Fair. There was lots of interest in finding out more about our walking trails, getting involved with volunteering opportunities and accessing wonderful resources, including those, created by Marian Hill, which share species to spot in Autumn.
One of the pleasures of exploring outdoors is coming across plants and animals that you haven’t seen before or sharing interesting finds with others. We are fortunate in Bath that there are several organisation websites and facebook groups that allow us to do just that, and to learn from each other in the process. Bathscape Manager, Dan Merrett, has picked his four favourite local sites – if you haven’t checked them out before then give them a click.
Wild About Bath. This relatively recent group does some great stuff including a gardening for wildlife scheme and public events through the year, but my favourite aspect is their facebook group, which is a friendly group sharing pictures of local wildlife where people share whatever interests them, no question is considered daft and there is usually someone who can provide an answer.
It shares a fair few users with the more established Bath Naturewatch facebook group which is run by Bath Natural History Society. This group similarly answers any questions but tends to have more posts by people who know what they have seen and are keen to share it with others. Between the two of them you can generally get a feel for what interesting plants, animals and fungi are starting to emerge through the year before you even leave your door.
A third site, also associated with Bath Natural History Society is the BRLSI-hosted ‘Bath Wildlife Sightings’ webpage. This site tends to feature more notable species and includes everything from gall mites to obscure flies and is great if you want to extend your interests and delve deeper into local wildlife.
And last but not least, the final destination of many of the confirmed records from other sites is the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) website. BRERC collects, manages and distributes biodiversity for the West of England area and you can search records of species in your area on their interactive maps. They even have a page for wildlife records in the Bathscape area.
Our local wildlife in a changing climate
The extraordinarily hot and dry weather we’ve seen this summer has brought climate change into sharp focus and the effect of the changing climate on our local wildlife is already apparent. Nationally there are concerns for how predicted changes in climate will impact a wide range of species, from bumblebees to lapwings.
More than a quarter of the UK’s butterflies are reported to be advancing their range northwards with the concern that several will lose key habitats in the south. The lifecycle timings of species are also changing,
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology reported orange tip butterflies as emerging 3 weeks earlier than 40 years ago and this is echoed in the proceedings of our local natural history societies. In 1901 the Bath Natural History Society recorded orange tips at Northstoke on the 27th May, while this year they were recorded in Oldfield Park and Colerne as early as 16th April.
Similarly, to mark the millennium the President of the Bristol Naturalists Society compared their records of spring events of the late 1990s with the early 1890s and found frogs spawning an average 30 days earlier and bluebells flowering an average 14 days earlier. Such changes can have a significant effect on other species, the classic example being blue tits needing to time the hatching of their chicks to coincide with peak caterpillar season on trees.
Unfortunately incremental changes over decades struggle to register with people in the same way as sudden events, however one thing you may be surprised to spot this year that you won’t have seen until very recently is the wasp spider. This large and impressive spider from the continent had a foothold only in the far south-east of the country until recently but has suddenly become quite common in fields of long grass around the Bathscape. Good news for the spider but perhaps less so for the grasshoppers and crickets it catches in its web.
Series two of our podcast continues – our latest two episodes share some walking festival magic and some inspiring stories from local community growers.
You can listen to the podcast here or search for “Bathscape Footprints” on your favourite podcast provider. Huge thanks go to our podcast producer Pommy Harmar for all her continuing work on this project.
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