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

 

 

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!

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!

Challenging times but what a transformation!

Our wonderful team of gardeners work very hard looking after and maintaining the 247 acres of diverse and beautiful grounds on Streatham Campus.

This has proved even more challenging over the last 18 months as staff were furloughed and unable to work on campus. They have spent the last few months tackling all the overgrown vegetation to bring the campus back to its glorious best.

The latest project was clearing the hidden overgrown areas by Reed Pond and the Reed Sunken Garden – what a transformation!

Area 1 – BEFORE

Area 1 – AFTER

Area 2 – BEFORE

Area 2 – AFTER

Area 3 – BEFORE

Area 3 – AFTER

 

Green Flag Award 2021-22 Winner!

We are delighted to announce that we have again successfully achieved the prestigious Green Flag Award for both our Streatham Campus and our 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.

Dealing with Ash Dieback at the University

Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungal disease first recorded by the Forestry Commision in 2006 becoming prominent in the South East of England in 2012.

We have confirmations on Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) specimens within our University since 2018, as has been the case for other well monitored sites in Devon and Cornwall.

The infection is permanent with no control and, although mostly terminal, there is a high degree of variability with respect to the seriousness and speed of the symptoms. We are gifted with a high number of people exploring, enjoying and being amongst our grounds and any sign of symptom is considered with great caution so physical management of these trees today and in the future is a certainty.

The dilemma amongst the Grounds team is that we know how valuable Ash is to biodiversity as a habitat. It hosts Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), Tawny Owls (Strix aluco), Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and the team favourite the Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), all for nesting. The lichens and moss which grow freely are a food source for caterpillars.

We are able to balance these interests and find opportunity where people are safe, and friends of other species can continue to share the space together.

The solution we have employed, which you can see in the photo below, is to carry out a veteranisation process on a tree. The major limbs are completely removed until the crown has gone and there is only a trunk left standing. The tree is then ringbarked which involves removing the living tissue from around the trunk. With the xylem and phloem severing the plants’ ability to transport water and nutrients, the tree will die and decay and this breaking down process will become host to insect species.

Importantly as the trunk is short and wide with developed buttress roots, there is no expectation that this tree will fall.

The top of the trunk can now be coronet pruned. This describes a technique that aims to replicate the natural fracturing effect seen after a limb failure, where insect species can easily reside within and rainfall can sit and gather amongst the dead wood.

Trunk segmentations have been cut out, hollowed and an entrance point made. These have been re-attached to the trunk around all four compass points as a future bird nesting habitat.

For anyone that would like to visit this work its location can be found here – http://ex.ac.uk/veteran-ash-specimen

For the future, the best course of action is regularly monitoring the species we care for. After all a minority will also be genetically tolerant and that stock of trees amongst our collection will be vital for the long-term future of the woodlands and specimens here when we begin to repopulate.

 

Diseased tree upcycled into wildlife habitat tree stump and bird boxes

Unfortunately a diseased Ash tree behind the IAIS Building on Streatham Campus has had to be removed, but our Arb Team were keen to use this as an opportunity to help wildlife and increase wildlife habitats on campus, in keeping with our biodiversity and sustainability work practices.

It is now a wildlife habitat high stump which will harbour and benefit insects and wildlife for years to come and the team have also carved bird boxes into the trunk.

Great job team!