Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

21-07-2014: A month of B's

June and July have been filled with even more Bees, Balsam, Bats and Butterflies as well as birds slow worms, voles and unidentified plants!

Species have been really active this summer, with something to see around every corner of the University.
I got to visit the bees again, some of you may have been keeping up to date through Rita’s bee hive blogand may be aware that both hives are aren't doing too well regarding their queens. One hive potentially having a queen which hasn't been able to reproduce properly on her first flight, and the other hives appearing to have lost their queen, so things are a little tense in the Hives on the hill. We’ll be ordering two queens for the hives which should hopefully resolve the issue – but keep your eyes peeled on the bee blog for the latest information.

The bees working hard to keep their hive ship shape

Bees will remove any dead bees or other dirt from the hive to make sure that it stays clean
Kingston University were one of three organisations present at the first Big Balsam Bash organised by the South East Rivers Trust (S.E.R.T) along with representatives from S.E.R.T and the Epsom and Ewell Countryside Team Epsom, we cleared as much balsam as we could from the source of the balsam on the whole of the Hogsmill River.

The team working to clear the balsam from the bonesgate

A wader full of water

Clearing the balsam into bags for safe transport

A male southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea) resting by the river
This work is important as it has an effect on the number of seeds coming downstream to our sites at Knights Park and Middle Mill. We’ll be trying to make this an annual thing and repeat this in 2015 – a great opportunity for students to get involved in a local issue which affects the University as well as neighbouring sites. Keep your eyes peeled for the save the date that will come around J

Last Monday I spent some time at Kingston Hill counting our bats. The site looks completely different at night with foxes running around getting startled by bat surveyors in locations where they don't normally come across people!
Another side to Kingston Hill

We counted 71 bats (a mix of soprano and common pipistrelle), which is down on last years 111 counted, but I've been assured that this is in the normal variation levels for a roost which was a relief.

We've also started the reptile surveys at Tolworth Court, and the great news is that we've found slow worms on our site!
Can you see the hidden slow worm?
We’ll be continuing the surveys to see what else we might find, and we've already seen other species while surveying such as field voles, grey herons and a plethora of butterflies speaking of which…

Upcoming opportunities – surveys and habitat volunteering

We’ll be joining the efforts of volunteers nationally by taking part in Butterfly Conservation’s 2014 Big Butterfly count between the 19th of July and the 10th of August 2014.

We've been busy recruiting volunteers from around the university, if you are a student, you can sign up via the KUSU volunteering portal and search for butterflies! If you've already signed up for the survey with me and sent me the results you can still sign up to have your hours count.

All the details and the download links are in this article on My Kingston.

These types of surveys are a great way of finding out about the different species our sites support, allowing us to better protect them and provide e.g. appropriate planting in our landscaping.

Survey sites:

Surveyors expressing an interest
Surveyors expressing an interest
Penrhyn Road – forensic garden
Yes – Estates Sustainable Swans
Knights Park – new naturalised river
Yes -  Staff from the Schools of Art & Design History and Architecture & Landscape
Cooper House
Yes -  Swan Wing Greenies
Middle Mill – Stanley Pickering Gallery and Middle Mill
Opportunities available
Kingston Hill – Coombehurst Lawn
Yes - KU staff
St Georges
Yes- KU students - completed
Kingston Hill – Green wall and meadow next to the LRC
Yes - KU staff
Swan Wing - Riverside
Yes – Estates Sustainable Swans
Kingston Hill – Community garden
Yes - KU staff
River House – back gardens/car park
Yes -  Swan Wing Greenies
Roehampton Vale
Opportunities available
Tolworth Court Sports Grounds
Yes - KU staff

N.B. If you can think of any other sites on our campus that you would like to survey, please email to register your interest and then email me the results afterwards for collation. 

In the wider Kingston area, there are always opportunities for volunteering and outreach. The following
Volunteers for Young Place Shapers spent a sunny afternoon in late June transforming a neglected stretch of Queens Promenade to create ‘a bench with a view’ using their gardening, painting and creative skills.

Young Place Shapers (YPS) is a new local charity project that aims to put young people at the heart of communities. Find out more on their Facebook and twitter. It helps young people and young adults who live, work or study in Kingston to lead and support practical action in their community that is good for people and good for the planet.

Here are some shots of their work to create “a bench with a view”



This project was undertaken in partnership with Quadron and the Environment Trust and its part of the Royal Borough of Kingston’s London in Bloom entry for 2014. London in Bloom is the largest horticultural campaign in London, involving hundreds of communities each year. Participating communities create lasting improvements to their local environment for the benefit of those that live, work and visit there, today and in the future.

We were also lucky enough to have our re-naturalised embankment included as one of the sites that the Royal borough of Kingston put forward for the London in Bloom portfolio – the judges visited the site last week and were very impressed with the work that all the volunteers have done to create the brilliant bank!

Showing our bank to the judges council on Friday 
 While we were there we saw plenty of wildlife including:
Birds and butterflies by the hogsmill

Watercress running rampant in the bank

Some of the vegetation is really starting to overtake the embankment, namely the false watercress. The second upcoming opportunity in August, in addition to the annual nature trail clearance at Kingston Hill on Wednesday 27th August (2.30-5 pm) date, is two hours in the river on Wednesday the 20th of August (2-4pm), cutting back on the false watercress – some of which we can push into the embankments on our site downstream, where the silt is accumulating to help provide more habitats for different species.

Please email if you can take part.

We have also had a mystery plant for you to ID – we think we know what it is, but we are opening it up to the floor to see what others think it is:
Help us definitively identify this plant
As I said, we've seen lots and lots, on the river and the surrounding areas, if you've been out spotting wildlife, why not take a photo and enter it into some of the competitions that are around. The Fresh Water Habitats Trust have launched a competition that closes in November the winners get prizes, so it’s well worth getting snappy!

Moor hen by the embankment
The family Duck, who we've seen using the river by the new embankment 

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