Category Archives: Features

Swift Street


Last week I helped put some Swift nesting boxes on houses in Church Drive, Carrington….


We put a number of specially-designed nesting boxes (like this) under the eaves of several houses on the north-facing side of Church Drive….


The boxes will hopefully encourage the birds to nest.  Swifts (Apus apus) are remarkable birds; supreme fliers which spend most of their lives in the air.  They migrate here from central and southern Africa to breed, arriving in late April-early May.  They have declined in number in recent decades, and a loss of suitable nesting sites is an important factor in this decline.  Nest boxes fixed under house eaves can help reverse this.

The next boxes in Church Street were fundraised and fixed as part of a local community project called Swift Street, which aims to inspire local people about nature while helping the Swifts.  It’s a great example of a small-scale wildlife project in the city, and particularly valuable because it brings nature right into the daily lives of people where they live – people in Church Street are talking about Swifts and looking at the skies now!

One of the nest boxes was fitted with a webcam, which will allow people to watch these fascinating birds in close detail if the box becomes occupied…..

a box with camera

There is also a plan to play recordings of Swift calls from windows near the boxes, to encourage the birds to investigate the new nest boxes.  Let’s hope the boxes prove successful.

Thanks to Trish from Instar for the photos.


Wildlife Trust launches roving conservation volunteer team

This was sent in from the Wildlife Trust’s City Local group… sounds like a good initiative….



The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts (NWT) Nottingham Urban Wildlife Scheme NUWS) has been working with the City Council Rangers and the NWT City Local Group (CLG) to establish a roving volunteer team to support conservation work on those City Wildlife sites which do not currently have their own Friends Groups.

A Saturday morning in January saw some of us burning off the calories at Whitemoor Nature Reserve.


Led by City Ranger Simon (who is also Vice-Chair of NUWS and a CLG committee member) we cleared scrub and bramble to enable some of the grassland to recover, providing a valuable diversity of habitat.

And we had some fun, exercise and fresh air – all those involved will happily repeat the experience.

We have further sessions planned:

Sunrise Hill – Saturday 20th February 10.00 – 2.00, meet at the entrance on Landcroft Crescent, off Arnold Road in Bestwood.

Sandy Banks – Saturday 12th march  10.00-2.00, meet at the the junction of Edwards Lane/Breckhampton Road/Chippenham Road in Bestwood.

More will follow and if you’d like to join us please contact Simon or myself.

Martin Willis (Chair of NUWS & CLG)


Danish Scurvy-Grass

I recently noticed an interesting plant growing right by the side of the Western Boulevard ring-road…..


There is a distinctive line of white low-growing flowers alongside the road edge – this is Danish scurvy-grass (Cochlearia danica), a member of the cabbage family.  Here’s a closer look, unfortunately not of the best quality….


Danish scurvy-grass is a coastal plant, whose common name derives from the fact that sailors used to chew its vitamin-C rich leaves to ward off scurvy.  Its usual habitat is coastal sand, shingle and salt-marsh, but it is no surprise to find it so far inland.  It is adapted to grow in places with high salt levels which would be intolerable to most species, and the application of salt to main roads in winter has made the very edge of such roads an ideal habitat for it (and not very good for much else).

The plant has therefore spread inland from the coast along roads and motorways, aided by the turbulence from passing high-speed traffic, which rapidly distributes its tiny seeds.  As a result, it is now one of the most widely-expanding native plants in Britain.


Look out for it next time you’re on or near a major road – it’s flowering now and at it’s most conspicuous.

Orange Tip Butterfly

Thanks to Vivien Crump, who sent in this fine photo of an Orange Tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines), resting on a Groundsel plant….

orange tip on groundsel 19 Apr  2015

The butterfly was photographed on the Radford Bridge Road Allotments in Wollaton.

In my last blog post I mentioned that the plot holders were recently given a notice to quit.  Here is a description of the current state of affairs from gardener Sue :

“The tenant gardeners of the Radford Bridge Road Garden Holders’ Association site off Russell Drive, Wollaton, have been issued with a legal Notice to Quit the site by April 2nd 2016.  We have no information on whether or not the developers have a timescale for the start of clearance work, but we do know that they have not yet submitted their Reserved Matters application to the Nottingham City Council in order to achieve Full Planning Consent.  It is good for the gardeners to know they at least have this year to continue to work their plots, but the developer’s commitment in their Outline Planning documentation to help us relocate seamlessly from current to new plot appears to be rather tenuous when we are faced with eviction and with the requirement to remove all our gardening equipment off site in the chance that we might be able to relocate, who knows when.   The practicalities of the latter exercise are horrendous; how on earth do you store shed, greenhouse, water butts, fruit cages, raised beds……  I personally took on an allotment because I only have a small back garden, so I will have to abandon my ‘paraphernalia’  and risk having to compensate the developers for not clearing my plot.  Not good, is it.”

As she says, it doesn’t sound good – either for gardeners or for the wildlife found on this threatened site.

Red Kite

An exciting photo today from regular contributor Nic Cairns – a Red Kite (Milvus milvus), seen over St.Ann’s Allotments….


This fascinating bird of prey, whose distinctive forked tail makes it easy to identify in flight, has not been photographed over the allotments before.  Very common historically, and very familiar to city dwellers as scavengers (Shakespeare referred to London as a “city of kites and crows”) it was persecuted almost to extinction, with only a handful of birds surviving in mid-Wales by the early 20th century.

Its subsequent recovery since the 1990s due to a reintroduction programme is a great conservation success story, and it has increased in numbers and range in several parts of the UK…..

redkite_tcm9-83430It’s great that the bird can be seen in Nottingham again, and hopefully it will continue to expand in the East Midlands, and become a familiar sight once again above our city.

Another “development” opportunity

While cycling along Glaisdale Drive the other day, I noticed a demolished industrial site, now on sale for “development”.  The 2.2 Acre site is starting to green up, with pioneer species getting a foothold……



Similarly to my recent post about an empty site in Forest Fields, seeing this plot made me contemplate more imaginative futures for the land than “development”.  Although the site is nothing special at the moment, it could become a valuable local green space for people and nature, in an area dominated by industrial units and high-density housing…

A woodland walk in Sherwood….

Here’s a report of recent activities from the Wildlife Trust’s Nottingham City group…..

Woodthorpe Meadow

Good to hear this urban nature reserve is getting some TLC!

Forest Fields : new supermarket, or new green space?

Some buildings were knocked down in Forest Fields earlier this year, in connection with a proposed development for a supermarket with residential flats above and accompanying car park.  The plans have long been controversial, with many in the area opposed to them, and the site has not been touched since it was levelled and fenced off.

In the meantime, the site (consisting mostly of brick rubble and churned-up dust and soil) has started to be colonised by a variety of plants, both wild and garden escapes…..


I counted at least 20 different plant species that could be easily identified from the other side of the fence.  It made me imagine possibilities for the site beyond what is proposed.  I’m not sure that Forest Fields needs more shops, and although new homes are always needed, two good-sized semi-detached houses, in seemingly good condition, were demolished to clear the site (the remainder of the site was an old garage and workshop).

What is very lacking in Forest Fields, despite the rustic-sounding name, is green space.  Although the Forest Recreation Ground is nearby, the area itself is characterised by dense terraced housing, with no green open spaces to speak of.  Imagine if this cleared site was turned into a small, open park to create green space for both local residents and wildlife….that sounds much better than a supermarket to me.

Wildlife Trust City Local Group re-energised

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust are currently re-establishing a local group for Nottingham City.  The group held an “Urban Safari” on the Forest Recreation Ground last weekend, and further activities are planned……

members mailing august 2014-page-001This group looks likely to be an excellent way to find out about wildlife and get involved in conservation in the city, and hopefully it will go from strength to strength.

New website…”Before The Bulldozer”

A group of gardeners who rent allotments on the threatened Radford Bridge Road Allotments in Wollaton have launched a new website – Before The Bulldozer.  The website is well worth a look.  It is a comprehensive record of the allotment site, including its landscape, biodiversity, and history, as it is before “the sweeping changes that are planned”…..