Bird Survey Highlights Spring/Summer 2022

The results of the spring/summer bird surveys carried out by an independent consultant on our campuses during two visits – one in March and one in May – have been received and we wanted to share the highlights.

Streatham Campus

A total of 1,498 birds were recorded during the visits, an increase of 4.4% over the total of 1,435 birds recorded in 2021. 696 of these birds are on the Red and Amber lists.

The the top five species recorded were:

  1. Wood Pigeon (Amber list bird)
  2. Blackbird (Green list bird)
  3. Robin (Green list bird)
  4. Wren (Amber list bird)
  5. Herring Gull (Red list bird)

Birds of Conservation 5 (BOCC5) was published on 1st December 2021 and is the latest assessment of the status of all the bird species that regularly occur in the UK. This assessment indicates that 70 species are of the highest conservation concern and have been placed on the Red list, 103 species have been placed on the Amber list and 72 species on the Green list. The majority of the Red list species are there because of a severe decline in numbers in recent decades, their numbers remain below historical levels or are under threat of global extinction.

The bird surveys (carried out every year in spring/summer and again in winter) have been in place on the Streatham Campus for the last 14 years, during which time some 55 different species have been recorded; of those 55 species currently there are 7 on the Red list and 15 on the Orange list.

A total of 274 (22 species) Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (BOCC5) Red list and Amber list birds were recorded:

Red List

  • Greenfinch
  • Herring Gull
  • House Sparrow
  • Mistle-Thrush
  • Starling
  • Swift
  • Woodcock

Greenfinch

Amber List

  • Black-Headed Gull
  • Bullfinch
  • Dunnock
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  • Mallard
  • Moorhen
  • Redwing
  • Rook
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Song Thrush
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Stock Dove
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Wren

Sedge Warbler

Interesting Observation

This breeding season a new Rookery has been established in the tops of tall trees in the Arboretum adjacent to Stocker Road. This is the first record of a Rookery on campus since 2001 when the small and declining Rookery located behind the Catholic Chaplaincy in Glenthorne Road finally disappeared.

Rooks are very sociable birds and you are unlikely to see one on its own; they feed and roots in flocks and nest colonially. Easily confused with the Carrion Crow, the Rook is slightly small with a bare greyish white face, a narrower beak and a peaked head.

Rook

St Luke’s Campus

A total of 274 birds were recorded during the visits and the the top five species recorded were:

  1. Wood Pigeon (Amber list bird)
  2. Herring Gull (Red list bird)
  3. Blackbird (Green list bird)
  4. House Sparrow (Red list bird)
  5. Robin (Green list bird)

The bird surveys (carried out every year in spring/summer and again in winter) have been in place on St Luke’s Campus since 2013, during which time some 29 different species have been recorded.

Robin

Green Flag Award 2022-23 Winner!

We are delighted to announce that we have again achieved the prestigious Green Flag Award for both our Streatham Campus and our St Luke’s Campus!

We have successfully retained this award for the twelfth consecutive year for Streatham Campus and for the tenth consecutive year for St Luke’s Campus.

The Award is the mark of a quality park or green space which has achieved the international standards for open space excellence.

The Grounds team work hard throughout the year using their extensive skills and experience to nurture our beautiful grounds and we are extremely proud of this achievement and the wonderful grounds that we have the privilege to work in and enjoy.

University of Exeter campuses re-awarded the coveted Green Flag Award

The University of Exeter’s grounds across three campuses have been ranked among the best parks and green spaces in the country.

The gardens and grounds at the University’s Streatham, St. Luke’s and Penryn campuses are some of the record number of parks and green spaces receiving the Green Flag Award this year as they are recognised as the most beautiful and botanically interesting of any UK university.

The Exeter campuses manage a mature tree stock of around 10,000 trees along with an arboretum, Italianate garden, magnolia lawn, cherry orchards and a national collection of Azara. While it’s Penryn campus, shared by Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, Cornwall includes herbaceous beds, sub-tropical planting, a fruit producing orchard, an 18th Century lime avenue and a drive with Pinetum native woodlands and historic rare rhododendrons which were cultivated on the site in the Victorian era. All three of the University’s grounds also feature high-quality sporting facilities for students, staff and visitors.

A committed team works on the grounds and outdoor sports facilities, 365 days a year. The work of the grounds staff includes the care of specialist plant collections, botanical specimen propagation, pot and bedding plant production, sports playing surface maintenance and award-winning floral decoration works.

University of Exeter’s Head of Ground and Operations, David Evans, said: ‘’We are delighted to have secured this honour once again.

‘’We always put sustainability at the core of everything we do and work closely with our colleagues and students to ensure that the grounds are maintained in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible.’’

Oliver Lane, FX Plus Director of Residences and Facilities in Cornwall, said: “We are delighted to have retained this award for a sixth year. It highlights the hard work of our teams and volunteers – both students and staff. Particular thanks should go to Toby Nenning, Grounds and Gardens manager, and Casey Thomas, Head of Facilities Management, and to their teams.

“Both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter are dedicated to sustainability under their Climate Emergency declarations and a key part of this involves supporting green spaces and the biodiversity on our beautiful campus.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, the University of Exeter’s Vice-Chancellor said: ‘’Our stunning grounds are an essential part of what is so special about our university. Our talented grounds team works extremely hard to keep the estate beautiful and accessible while also creating habitats that protect wildlife and the environment. Our beautiful surroundings contribute significantly to the wellbeing of our staff and students and we take great pride in the fact they are as much a home for wildlife as they are for us.

‘’We are proud to have been given the Green Flag award, thanks to the hard work of dedicated colleagues like those in our grounds management team.’’

Keep Britain Tidy’s Accreditation Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making the University of Exeter campuses worthy of a Green Flag Award. It is testament to all the hard work of staff who do so much to ensure that they maintain the high standards demanded by the Award.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

A full list of Green Flag Award-winning parks and green spaces is available here

 

 

We are hiring! Gardener full time permanent post

Are you a professional horticulturist who is excited to make an important move in your career by joining the gardeners here at the University of Exeter?

This full time, permanent post is available immediately.

Application closing date Monday 8th August.

Apply here

We are a dedicated team who are fortunate to be involved in delivering the full breadth of horticulture as part of a service to the campuses at Streatham and St Luke’s.

We work in an established landscape with both modern and historically significant planting and we are driven by working towards a broad range of goals that are mentally and physically rewarding in a healthy way.

It’s an estate quite unlike any other, with a staff and student population of over 23,000 people and hundreds of private public and ticketed events that manifest in an energy you can really feel over the course of a normal day here.

With a genuinely proud safety culture, we take time and make time for your development and best practice out in the gardens.

Your role will focus on all expected seasonal work across beds, mixed shrub borders, lawns and hedges. It will also intermittently include planting, propagation and occasional cover in our plant nursery, wildlife habitat management and reactionary work during severe weather.

We are a proud custodian to our 150 hectares of gardens and grounds.

The working pattern will be 5 over 7 days which will include working weekends. For the right candidate we can discuss a flexible working pattern.

 

Bird Survey Highlights Winter 2021-22

The results of the winter bird surveys carried out by an independent consultant on our campuses during two visits between November 2021 and January 2022 have been received and we wanted to share the highlights.

Streatham Campus

A total of 1,126 birds (34 species) were recorded during the visits, with the top five species recorded as:

  1. Wood Pigeon
  2. Blackbird
  3. Robin
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Great Tit

Great Tit

A total of 373 (13 species) Birds of Conservation Concern (BOCC) red listed and amber listed birds were recorded:

  • Greenfinch (red listed)
  • Herring Gull (red listed)
  • House Sparrow (red listed)
  • Mistle Thrush (red listed)
  • Bullfinch (amber listed)
  • Dunnock (amber listed)
  • Mallard (amber listed)
  • Moorhen (amber listed)
  • Redwing (amber listed)
  • Song Thrush (amber listed)
  • Stock Dove (amber listed)
  • Wren (amber listed)
  • Wood Pigeon (amber listed)

Greenfinch

Interesting Observation

A Kingfisher was recorded flying across one of the ponds in Taddiforde Valley in January 2022; this is the first Kingfisher recorded during one of the bird surveys which have been running for the last 14 years.

Kingfisher

St Luke’s Campus

A total of 275 birds (18 species) were recorded during the visits, with the top three species recorded as:

  1. Wood Pigeon
  2. Starling
  3. Herring Gull

Starling

A total of 185 (8 species) Birds of Conservation Concern (BOCC) red listed and amber listed birds were recorded:

  • Herring Gull (red listed)
  • House Sparrow (red listed)
  • Mistle Thrush (red listed)
  • Starling (red listed)
  • Dunnock (amber listed)
  • Redwing (amber listed)
  • Wren (amber listed)
  • Wood Pigeon (amber listed)

Mistle Thrush

Stormy Times but Tree-rific Arborists!

Unfortunately Storms Eunice and Franklin caused havoc on our grounds last week damaging trees on our campuses and on our off-campus sports grounds.

Our in-house arborists worked tirelessly around the clock on Friday and over the weekend to deal with the high priority fallen trees, branches and debris to keep us and our grounds safe. They will also be kept busy for the next few weeks checking trees and clearing tree branches and debris over our 378 acres of grounds.

We have a small team of three arborists who do a fantastic job managing and safeguarding the 10,000 trees on our campuses and our off-campus residences and sports grounds.

Their dedication, hard work, knowledge and skilled expertise keeps everyone safe on campus and allows us to enjoy and benefit from the many different species of trees. We would like to thank them and let them know that they are our arb heroes!

 

Tree-mendous News – more than £16,000 raised for local charity Hospiscare!

We are delighted to announce that we have helped raise more than £16,000 (with gift aid still to be added) for the local charity Hospiscare by supporting their Christmas Tree Recycling Campaign.

1,200 trees were collected by volunteers from homes across Exeter, Exmouth and Honiton and brought to the green waste site on our Streatham Campus.

The trees were then chipped by our Grounds Team and agricultural students from Bicton College.

A Jensen chipper was kindly lent to us by Elm Star, a local company in Newton Abbot, who also instructed the students on how to operate the chipper.

The chippings will be applied on the grounds around campus and also used to improve a local public right of way path.

We would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in the collaborative community campaign raising funds for the very worthwhile local charity Hospiscare. You are absolute stars!

Laura Robertson, Hospiscare Fundraising Projects Manager said “the money raised could fund 22 in-patient beds for a whole 24 hours. During what is a particularly difficult time for Hospiscare financially, this total really will help considerably and will contribute to ensuring we are here for local people living with terminal illness and their families long into the future”.

Just some of the 1,200 trees to be shredded!

Getting ready to start

Here we go!

Jensen chipper kindly lent by local company Elm Star

Working hard

Chipping in action

Operating the chipper

Bicton College students doing a fantastic job

Nearly finished!

The Mighty Oak Award!

All members of the Grounds Team took part in a new Mighty Oak Award knock-out competition in 2021 which ran for eight months until the winner was declared. The competition included questions on health and safety, horticulture, arboriculture and some unusual statistics in the industry!

The competition helped improve working relationships, highlighted the combined horticultural and arboricultural knowledge and expertise of the team and also showed the competitive nature of some of the team members!

The award trophy was created in-house from felled timber on campus, which not only made it sustainable, personal but also free!

Mighty Oak Award 2021 trophy

Marcus, the proud winner of the Mighty Oak Award 2021

 

Recycle your Christmas Tree and raise funds for Hospiscare (its a win win!)

We are delighted to be supporting Hospiscare’s Christmas Tree Recycling scheme again this year.

In return for a donation to Hospiscare, volunteers will collect your Christmas tree from your home on 7th or 8th January. The trees will be brought to the University’s Streatham Campus where our Grounds Team staff and Bicton College students will shred them. It is hoped the clippings will be used to improve public right of way footpaths.

Trees can be collected from postcodes EX1, EX2, EX3, EX4, EX8, EX14 1, EX14 2 and EX14 3.

Registration closes on 3rd January. For more information and to register visit https://www.hospiscare.co.uk/events/christmas-tree-recycling/.

Please note this service is for real Christmas trees only; artificial trees cannot be accepted.

Please sign up for this scheme and leave the effort of getting rid of your Christmas trees to Hospiscare. You will also be raising vital funds for this very worthwhile local charity.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Bird Survey Highlights Spring & Summer 2021

The results of the spring and summer bird surveys carried out by an independent consultant on our campuses have been received and we wanted to share the highlights.

St Luke’s Campus

Over the five year period 2016-2021, there has been a steady increase in the population of birds recorded during the breeding season across the campus. 2021 saw the highest number of total birds ever recorded – 295 – which eclipses the last record of 286 in 2019.

Once again, the Wood Pigeon remains the number one species recorded across the campus, the Blackbird makes a welcome return at number two at the expense of the Starling who drops to number five, whilst the House Sparrow and Herring Gull remain at number three and four respectively.

No new species were recorded across the campus, so the total remains at 29 different species of birds recorded over the period 2013-2021.

Streatham Campus

The top four species recorded across the campus – Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Robin and Wren – remain the same as was found in the previous surveys in 2019. The Blue Tit makes a welcome return at number five, replacing the Jackdaw in this position.

The total number of birds recorded this year was 1,435 which represents a net fall of 137 birds from the last bird surveys in 2019; a decrease of 8.7%. However, this is still well above the all time low of 1,284 birds recorded in 2017, and very much returning to the number of birds recorded in 2016.

174 birds on the red and amber listed species were recorded this year, showing that the campus has a relatively stable and healthy population of red and amber listed birds.

Interesting Observation – Blackcap

This year the Blackcap was recorded in all survey areas across the campus, with a likely breeding population of 26 which is well above the yearly average for the period 2008 to 2021, which currently stands at 18.

The Blackcap is one of the more common Sylvia warblers, identified by its rather stocky body with dirty grey plumage above and olive grey below. The male of the species has a small black cap, whilst the female sports a very distinct reddish brown cap. A summer migrant, arriving in early spring, the Blackcap is widely distributed throughout Devon during the breeding season, and is easily identified by its rich warbling song. Choice of habitat for nesting, is woodlands, parks and gardens that have areas of dense undergrowth. The Blackcap builds a nest low down in a bush and lays 4-5 eggs, having two broods between April and July.

Blackcap

Interesting Observation – Stock Dove

This breeding season, Stock Doves were recorded in small numbers in all survey areas across the campus. An amber listed species, the Stock Dove is very similar in shape and size to a Feral Pigeon, but smaller than its close relative the Wood Pigeon (of which there are many to be found on campus). The Stock Dove has blue grey plumage with a very distinct iridescent green neck patch and a pink chest. It can be confused with the Wood Pigeon, but apart from being smaller, also lacks the prominent white neck patch and broad white wing bands of the Wood Pigeon.

The Stock Dove breeds in open woodland, farmland with hedges and scattered trees and larger parks with mature deciduous trees such as oak.  Unlike the Wood Pigeon that builds a platform of twigs for a nest on a branch of a tree, the Stock Dove prefers to use a hole in a tree or a farm building.

Stock Dove

 

Wood Habitats on Campus

We love to create wood habitats on campus as they are essential for wildlife and provide food and shelter for countless tiny invertebrates.

The habitat piles in these photos are made from the dead branches of the trees they surround, so any fungi or minibeasts are still near their habitat.

So if you see log piles on our grounds, we haven’t forgotten to clear away debris following tree works …………………… we are doing our bit for nature and the environment!