Month: May 2020

Meet Your Community

Ealing Wildlife Group is a wonderful community and everyone is welcome. At time of writing we have over 2,800 members which is an incredible number!  Whether you’re a regular contributor, Facebook appreciator or maybe a photographic whizz – we’re a local community group which hopefully is bringing you some joy!  Whilst EWG does put on regular socials, events and volunteer days (when possible!) – not everyone can come along and many members don’t get to meet others in the group. 

We got together with some of our well known names to pull together a virtual ‘meet your community members’ so you can put some names to faces and to find out more about what EWG means to them.

Debbie Nixon – W7

Debbie Nixon

Been a member of EWG since 2016

Lived in various parts of Ealing Borough for 40 years

Got involved with EWG at the end of 2015, I wanted to revamp my garden but still ensure it was wildlife friendly. I saw a post on Facebook which showed a lovely garden Sean had designed a few years earlier for a competition.  We met, I instantly warmed to him (he loves dogs!) he redesigned the layout, helped build new beds, brought in new plants and shrubs and created a pond.

In 2016, a post appeared on a local Facebook group enquiring about the bats at Hanwell Viaduct.  I immediately thought of Sean and his huge knowledge and passion for wildlife. I tagged him and he offered to host a bat walk if anyone was interested. I think about 100 people responded! We did a few, got Helen, who was a scientific researcher and Paula, who already ran bat walks in Walpole Park to help. Sean then said he’d like to set up a Group to bring together local folk to share everything and anything nature related in the Borough.

Favourite thing about EWG?  As more people have joined with various skills, knowledge and enthusiasm, this has created the amazing and very special Group it is today.  I help out when I can, I’m a midwife and always encourage women to join, good for the children and them. When I’m out dog walking and see someone taking a photo or looking at something, I ask have they heard of the Group, it’s great when they are already members! I’m sure many people see me as a slightly crazy woman but I love telling people about EWG!

Nigel Bewley – W5

Nigel Bewley

Been a member of EWG since 2016

Lived in Ealing for 38 years

Got involved with EWG after being told about it in the car on the way home from a birding trip.

Favourite thing about EWG?  The collective expertise, offered freely and without ‘judgement’. Members share their experiences and observations of wildlife in Ealing and sometimes beyond, and comment on topical environmental issues.  Some of the members like beer, and that is a good thing!

Annette & Julie Winter

Annette Winter – W7

Been a member of EWG since 2017

Lived in Ealing for 50 years

I don’t remember how I found the group on Facebook but I was following it for a while and I keep noticing that there were organised events including bat walks at the meadow near the Viaduct, which is pretty close to where I live, and I thought that I should go to one and eventually I did. About 30 years prior to that I had attended a couple of bat walks organised by the Rangers at Brent Lodge Park, back when detectors seemed to be large wooden boxes, but hadn’t actually managed to see an actual bat. This event was different, the detectors were small, easily portable, electronic devices and more importantly they worked! I met Sean and a friendly group of people, had an interesting introductory talk and eventually saw my first bats swooping around the river – It was brilliant and I was completely hooked.

The things that I love about EWG is that it brings beauty into my life on a daily basis, mostly through the photographs taken by other members but also through articles, book suggestions and humorous threads on the web page. I also really like the way that it dovetails with the parks and environmental teams within the council and this has lead me to further activities that I never would have thought of doing including yet more bat walks, where we’ve met other members of the group, bulb plantings, herb and tree identification walks, moth and bird counts and even dragonfly identification courses (mostly spent laughing with Boaby and Kish).

The trip to see the starling murmuration at Oxmoor was one of the most brilliant things ever – If you ever get a chance to see this, do it and we met Yvonne and Charlie on that trip who feel like friends. The best thing of all is that I feel like I’m still learning thanks to EWG. I watched a film the other evening and just at the crucial moment, when the heroine crash landed, I heard the birds squawk and thought that’s a great tit! I really love that I now know that.

Julie Winter – UB6

Been a member of EWG since 2017

Lived in Ealing for 50 years

I was introduced to the group by my sister, Annette. We are both really invested in Walpole Park. It has been witness to all of our training attempts to complete a 5K run for Cancer Race for Life and we also have a memorial tree for our Dad there, which is a rendezvous point for us.

One afternoon, I was sat on the bench overlooking Dad’s tree, Annette had gone to buy our teas from the Rickyard cafe. She’s been gone a while and I cast my eyes around and spotted her, with our hot beverages in hand with “a strange man “. They were both staring up into the canopy of a mature tree. I’m keeping my eye on him in case he’s dodgy! When Annette returns, she has news. “That noise we heard coming from the tree is in fact the feeding call from baby owls, we have Little Owls breeding in Ealing !!” I’m astonished about the owls but curious about the tree staring stranger. ” That’s Sean, he runs Ealing Wildlife Group on Facebook, it’s a group of local people who love and enjoy nature and wildlife, you should join”. She sent me the link the same evening.

Favourite thing about EWG?  Too many: I love the opportunity to revisit things we did as children such as listening and identifying bird song. Getting involved in habitat work such as building stumperies and bat boxes (or trying to). The annual Photo exhibition is superb, but I have to confess to loving the organised Bat Walks. I now have my own bat detector and no doubt look “strange “ too as I’m wandering around, looking up and waving my gadget around.

Heidi Cullip – W13

Been a member of EWG since 2019

Lived in Ealing for 4 years

I work with Sean in our day jobs and, as soon as I heard about EWG, I was eager to find out all about it so I joined the Facebook group.  Sean and I car share to work so I get to hear a lot about what’s going on with the group and the projects that Sean is working on and I was overawed by what the group has been able to achieve and the grand plans that EWG have for the future.   

I was so excited to get involved in a bigger way and, as I work in Marketing and PR in my day job, I offered to do some comms/marketing work for the group.  I look after the newsletter and any press releases that need to go out.  I’m also working on a secret website project (more to come soon!) alongside my husband Drew Noble who is also an active member of the group.

Favourite thing about EWG? I love how many experts we have in the group!  I had no idea that there were so many knowledgeable and passionate people walking around – it’s wonderful to have a supportive community like EWG which enables everyone to get involved!

Hedgehog Awareness Week 2020: How can you help?

Did you know it’s Hedgehog Awareness Week? Well it is, so here are our top tips for attracting and helping these prickly garden visitors, who sadly are in decline in the UK.

Hedgehog by Rob Fenton

Build A Hedgehog Highway

One of the challenges facing hedgehogs in urban areas is getting around enough gardens at night to forage. Solid walls and fences don’t help when you need to travel up to a mile in one night to find enough food. So cut a hole or leave a gap about the size of a music CD in each of your garden boundaries. Encourage your neighbours to do the same so each little island of garden habitat is connected and hedgehogs can get around.

Hedgehog morning travels by Esther Brooks

Stop The Slug Pellets

These (and all other garden chemicals) are not only harmful to pests eating your precious plants, but anything else that eats them afterwards. Like hedgehogs, amphibians and the beautiful but declining Song Thrush. There are just as effective organic or chemical-free solutions to slug control. My favourite is a biological control that uses tiny parasitic nematodes that kill slugs but don’t harm anything else. Beer traps also work well, and the slugs die happy. Or you could just garden with plants that are great for wildlife and not so prone to slug damage?

Build A Log Pile

Stack logs, branches and woody cuttings in a pile in a quiet area. Leave a large cavity in the centre and some gaps a hedgehog might be able to squeeze through. Not only will it provide a potential hedgehog home but rotting wood is an important habitat for insects and other invertebrates, hedgehog food! You may also attract newts, toads, slow worms and even stag beetles! The more dead wood you can include in your garden habitat the better.

Provide Water

A shallow dish of fresh water can be a lifesaver to a thirsty hedgehog in the summer months. If you can create a small container pond or full-on wildlife pond even better, but make sure there are ways for hedgehogs to scramble out of a pond if they fall in. Ponds with steep, slippery sides are a death trap for hedgehogs and other wildlife so create a beach area in the shallows or pile up some logs, branches and plants near the side just in case.

Hanwell Hedgehog by James Morton

Check Compost Heaps & Bonfire Piles

These piles of material can make excellent homes or temporary shelters for hedgehogs too. Always check them carefully before sticking a garden fork in them or lighting that fire.

Make A Feeding Station

With a few simple supplies you can create a hedgehog restaurant that excludes larger diners like cats and foxes. You could even set up a trail camera and see who comes to visit your garden at night. Fun for all the family!

Log Your Sightings

To allow conservation organisations to build up a picture of where hedgehog hot spots are and where they are in trouble, we need the power of Citizen Science! So log your sightings of hedgehogs here and here. We’d also love you to post any sightings or photos you have on Facebook for our members to enjoy.

Donate to Hedgehog Awareness Week

Ealing bats in 2020!

As the future of group activities looks uncertain with Covid-19 lockdown in place, one question we’ve been asked a number of times in recent weeks is whether there will be any bat walks in the season ahead. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to lead any sizable group walks any time soon. But all is not lost for you batty fans!

EWG Hanwell Viaduct bat walk (Photo credit: Steve Morey)

As our Dawn Chorus walk showed, virtual walks and activities are still an option. And a couple of weeks ago I took my bat detector out on my daily exercise at dusk, and transmitted through Facebook Live to see if it would work. And it did!

Bats in May

Now May and warmer weather are here bats are getting really active, feeding on flying insects, replacing lost energy reserves from hibernation and soon giving birth to tiny new baby bats. In fact May is the month most females will be heading to their communal maternity roost. Like a giant bat creche where they all have their babies. We’re lucky in Ealing to have lots of green space and wildlife corridors that bats (and other wildlife) need to survive and thrive. And we need to protect these spaces as best we can. Bats are an indicator species for the health of our wider habitats and ecosystems, so that’s why we’ve focused so much of our monitoring and public educational activities on them.

We’ve recorded 7 confirmed species in Ealing over the course of 38 public bat walks and many outings from members of our EWG bat pack over the past 4 years. And we’re providing all of our bat data to London Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust. It’s also an asset going forward for site specific development issues. The species we have confirmed in Ealing to date are as follows:

  1. Common Pipistrelle
  2. Soprano Pipistrelle
  3. Nathusius’ Pipistrelle
  4. Noctule
  5. Leisler’s
  6. Daubenton’s
  7. Brown Long Eared
Common Pipistrelle examined in hand during trapping and monitoring by London Bat Group under license (Photo credit: Sean McCormack)

Bats have fascinating biology, behaviour and habits, they’re much misunderstood. They are secretive and come out at night when we can barely observe them. Kids enjoy staying up late to see them, and a bat walk combines nature with technology. What’s not to love?

Bat Walks

I don’t know of anyone who’s experienced bats flying overhead with an electronic detector in hand to listen to their high pitched calls who hasn’t been thrilled or fascinated.

So I’m going to try to schedule a series of virtual bat walks via Facebook live this batty season, so at least if we can’t go watch them together we can have the next best thing.

Sean with bat detector

If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, what are you waiting for? That’s where we’ll transmit the live walks, and the event dates will be posted on there soon as well as on our website.

In the meantime, if you’re having bat withdrawal symptoms, here’s a couple of entertaining bat shaped videos on our YouTube channel:

I look forward to seeing and chatting with you on a Virtual Bat Walk very soon! And if you have any comments or questions, do let us know.


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