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https://www.nature-recovery-network.org/tiny-talks-report/

Tiny Talks Report

Kerry_beeHairy-footed Flower Bee (male).
Captured by paparazzo Kerry Fisher - one of our Tiny Talkers.

 

Tiny Talks report: summary of attendance, topics, questions, and possible future engagement

Compiled by Dr. Lucy Dickinson, Leader of the Tech A-Team, who ensured the smooth zooming and youtubing of the series.

Between March 4 and March 20, we ran 12 +1 short online 'Tiny Talks' featuring a range of local experts and enthusiasts and chaired by local people. The '+1' was a Guest Appearance from the creators of the Hedgehog Super Highway in Kirtlington.

We used the Zoom platform and recorded the talks on youtube. The series was an original idea of Catriona Bass, who also secured funding from Natural England (thanks to you, NE!) and did the casting.

The purpose of the Tiny Talks Series was to contribute to NRN’s community outreach and education aims, particularly in the circumstances where lock-downs had compromised the ability to meet in groups and provide an educational element to the NRNs ongoing volunteering activities.

Click on the talk title to see the youtube recording.

 

  1. Earthworms: Nature’s Ploughshare (David Knight: Trustee of Wild Oxfordshire): 49 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • October 21 is World Earthworm Day – it was felt that this should be celebrated with worm charming and a composting event (and/or that there should be a category of earthworm created compost at the Village Show)
  • Worms are brilliant for the soil
  • David uses a worm composting bin to decompose kitchen waste (e.g., https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=726)
  • Darwin knew lots about earthworms, we learned that there are three types: Epigees, Endogees and Aneciques
  • Richard Buckner (Cassington) offered a discussion/article on how he collects and processes humanure
  • Earthworms have been observed to have sex with themselves (sorry – I am still weirdly fascinated by this!)

 

Tackling biodiversity loss and climate change on our farm using regenerative agriculture techniques (Clare Hill - Director Regenerative Agriculture, FAI Farms, Wytham): 37 attendee computers 

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • There is real sustainable large scale farming taking place just outside Eynsham!
  • What we are doing in the community can link up with this, creating valuable wildlife corridors/nature recovery networks.
  • A key message was the importance of a change in mindset – from maximising to optimising
  • A couple of books were recommended (by Richard Buckner) – Joel Salatin’s work on Polyface Farm (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/) and Richard Perkins on making small farms work (https://www.richardperkins.co/)
  1. The slow worm; our secretive suburban companion (Neil Clennell - Herpetologist, CEO, Wychwood Project): 46 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • Slow worms have been spotted in Eynsham at the Fishponds and neighbouring gardens, in the Peace Oak Orchard, the allotments, church yard and in people’s gardens across the village.
  • NRN Surveys were carried out last year, by community volunteers led by Neil, in the church yard and Peace Oak Community Orchard
  • They can be surveyed by direct observation, use of artificial refuges, presence of sloughed skin and radio telemetry
  • They can be encouraged by availability of rank grassland, brash piles, wildlife ponds and compost heaps
  • Neil is planning surveys for the Fishponds this month with the Fishpond Volunteers. If any other community members would like to take part please email: eynshamnature@gmail.com

 

  1. Half a century of trying to protect Nature in Eynsham (Sue Chapman - Former Chair of Eynsham Society and Parish Councillor): 41 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • Eynsham residents have been striving to help the environment for over 50 years, and everyone felt quite emotional about what had been done, and about the current threats
  • Similar threats of development were the impetus for the Eynsham Society
  • There is a rich history of tree planning including the Queen Mother’s Clump in the Fishponds, the Millennium Woods as well as many individual trees around the village
  • Eynsham volunteers are amazing!

 

  1. Tips for photographing wildlife on a Budget (Kerry Fisher, Cancer researcher and photographer): 40 attendee computers

 

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • You don’t need expensive kit – Kerry buys second-hand cameras, but also gets amazing results with old mobile phones and an app called ‘open camera’ which allows you to take multiple photos with the phone in one position until the battery runs out (https://www.opencamera.org.uk/)
  • The trade off is between camera quality and distance from shot, so you can still get good images with a cheap camera or phone if you can get close enough
  • Be ready to take lots of photos and discard most of them
  • Have a seat and lots of patience (and preferably no noisy children)
  • Kerry has posted lots of his wonderful photos on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1011819535901098)
  • There was definitely interest in a camera club

 

  1. Fighting for Trees: going the extra mile to save important trees (Sarah Couch - Heritage Landscape Specialist): 44 attendee computers

 

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • Sarah has a lot of experience, especially in planting avenues and choosing suitable trees for particular locations – important to plant trees that grow locally, but we will also need to adapt to the changing climate by introducing more resilient species
  • After storm damage, it can be better to leave trees to regenerate naturally rather than going in and planting trees
  • Trees can live with relatively small parts of their trunks intact, so they can be saved for a while and propagation can be carried out for replacements. It is important to keep gene pools to have a variety and diversity of trees to counteract diseases etc.
  • In more remote areas it is worth letting trees fall rather than removing them and leave them as habitats (i.e., close parks in high winds rather than always removing risks)
  • Sarah thinks we should plant elms in Eynsham, and also learn to love sycamore
  • Veteran tree surveys are under way in Eynsham, please email if you’d like to get involved in mapping them.
  • A tree survey app has been develop for easy mapping of trees.

 

  1. Look, listen, lament: grief and the loss of biodiversity (Linda Wisheart - Psychotherapist): 36 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • People who spend time trying to protect nature need support – many of us feel sad and anxious about loss of biodiversity and the threat of climate change
  • Jo Hamilton (johamilton121@gmail.com) and Lucy Ford (Climate Psychology Alliance: https://www.climatepsychologyalliance.org/support/indsupport) both offered potential support, resources etc
  • Linda is planning to create an NRN forum in this area, and there was definite enthusiasm for this kind of support. Please email if you would like to get involved.

 

  1. Reviving Ratty- The plight of one of Britain’s most iconic mammals, the water vole, and what we can do to help on a local level (Lucy Stoddart - BBOWT Mammal Officer): 43 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • The presence of water voles can be deduced from a characteristic feeding pattern (45 degree angle on leaves), droppings and to a degree footprints (but these can be hard to distinguish from rats)
  • Surveying can be done from the bank, but is most successful and comprehensive if done in channel
  • To flourish, water voles need to be protected from mink, which have to be ‘removed’
  • There was discussion about ensuring that remodelling of brooks due to housing development were water vole friendly
  • There were a couple of people from Charlbury who were interested in looking at the Evenlode and smaller brooks)
  • Water vole surveys are in preparation. Please email if you would like to join

9. Willow Coppice: creatively growing, making and learning (Andy Goodwin and Charlotte Holmes - https://www.willowcoppice.co.uk/): 44 attendee computers

 

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • There was enthusiasm for workshops etc. once this is allowed
  • A couple of people volunteered to have willow grow in their gardens (Charlotte came round to our house earlier this week and measured up – we are going to get the area ready and plant towards the end of the year). They are happy to consider both larger sites and small-scale planting in gardens
  • Growing and weaving have definite potential as a community activity

 10. Edible Eynsham? (Sue Raikes - GreenTEA and Peace Oak): 39 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

  • A huge number of local apple varieties have been planted around the village – people were encouraged not to be afraid to pick apples in season rather than buying imported ones from the supermarkets
  • There was interest in a foraging course and the app/website Falling Fruit map was mentioned (https://fallingfruit.org/)
  • The route for getting permission for more tree planting was discussed
  • The enthusiasm for local spaces for growing has been fed into the Garden Village proposals
  • There was a desire to see the local food initiatives be rekindled including future apple festivals etc, as well as a recognition that the allotments, Peace Oak etc are important to Eynsham residents

 

11. Kirtlington's Hedgehog Superhighway (Stephen Powles wildlife photography, filming and conservation and Chris Powles who inspired the villagers of Kirtlington to create a “Hedgehog Superhighway” of interconnected gardens): 43 attendee computers

By request, this was not recorded, but a similar talk is available on Vimeo (until approx. 31 March): https://vimeo.com/526070588  (the password is: KirtHog Eynsham)

What we learned and what we might do about it:

https://www.mammal.org.uk/science-research/hedgehog-hotspots/?hilite=%27hedgehog%27%2C%27mortality%27

Neil Bailey (Earthwatch) and Judy and Don Reid (Eynsham’s leads on hedgehog rescue, working with the local vet) are already creating Eynsham’s Hedgehog Superhighway. Please email judy.reid130@gmail.com if you would like to join.

An NRN survey app. has been developed for hedgehogs.

12. Feel good fungi foraging; finding joy in the small things (Renee Watson - Science communicator): 40 attendee computers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMRzZ-Pmt1U&t=57s

What we learned and what we might do about it:

 

13. What the bugs in our brooks tell us about water quality (Maarten van Hardenbroek - Lecturer in Physical Geography, Newcastle University): 30 attendee computers

What we learned and what we might do about it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoFK4hCu42c

  • The effects of sewage overspills were explained, and examples of local figures given:

https://arcg.is/1iPjSG