Biodiversity Buzz – 5 Winter Wonders to look out for this Christmas

By December 14, 2017 March 12th, 2018 Uncategorized, Biodiversity, Blog, Conservation, News

Along with holly, mistletoe is one of our best-known festive plants.

However, for all of the lore associated with it at his time of year the truth about the plant is far less romantic. Mistletoe is in fact a semi parasitic shrub with poisonous leaves, berries and stems. It parasitizes its host tree for much of its water and nutrient requirements by penetrating the bark with its roots.

Growing high in the canopy mistletoe can grow on several broadleaved tree species.

It may sound odd to migrate to the UK for winter but many bird species do just that!

A range of species migrate from the north and east to exploit our comparatively mild winter where there is more food available.

Many of these species can often be seen in our parks, such as redwings, fieldfares and the glamorous waxwings which are often seen in small flocks raiding trees and bushes of any berries.

Surprisingly supermarket car parks are often a popular haunt for these birds due to the tendency to plant them with shrubs which produce a high berry yield.

An often maligned species, ivy can actually be of high value to biodiversity.

Unlike mistletoe, ivy does not parasitize nutrients from trees but just attach themselves to them, rarely causing damage. In fact, the growth of ivy adds complexity to the tree,creating important habitat for a range of species.

Ivy flowers in the autumn, and provides a rich source of late nectar to many beneficial insects like hoverflies and bees. In the depths of winter when other food is scarce the swollen black berries of the ivy ripen, providing welcome bounty for birds like woodpigeons, thrushes, robins and black-caps, so think twice before cutting it back!

An impressive plant both in stature and adaptability which we often overlook as a bulky weed, teasel an important and beautiful source of winter food for birds and habitat for hibernating invertebrates.

Amazingly wild teasel is partially carnivorous. This adaptation is known as protocarnivory. The plant can trap insects in small pools of water which gather where the leaves meet the stems.

They are considered to only be partially carnivorous due to the fact that the plant does not produce the enzymes needed to dissolve the invertebrates but rely on the invertebrates to decompose naturally.

One of the most iconic sounds of British woodlands can be heard at this time of year, the Tawny owl's charismatic too-wit too-woo" call is actually two calls.

At this time of year Tawny owls establish breeding territories. The female bird makes the "too-wit" and the too-woo" is produced by a male in response.

The State of UK Birds Report for 2017 published by RSPB identified the Tawny owl as suffering from significant declines in the UK. The species is a woodland bird typically nesting in cavities.

Our parks and greenspaces would not be what they are without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, the Friends of the parks. Winter is an important time for the work they do as it is the ideal time to manage our woodlands and other habitats. You will often see our volunteers clearing dying vegetation, coppicing woodlands or removing plant material. These are important tasks to ensure that the parks provide excellent habitat for wildlife.

If you are local to Bromley and interested in volunteering in your local park you can find details of Friends groups at

www.bromleyparks.co.uk/our-services/friends-groups/A


Along with holly, mistletoe is one of our best-known festive plants.

However, for all of the lore associated with it at his time of year the truth about the plant is far less romantic. Mistletoe is in fact a semi parasitic shrub with poisonous leaves, berries and stems. It parasitizes its host tree for much of its water and nutrient requirements by penetrating the bark with its roots.

Growing high in the canopy mistletoe can grow on several broadleaved tree species.

It may sound odd to migrate to the UK for winter but many bird species do just that!

A range of species migrate from the north and east to exploit our comparatively mild winter where there is more food available.

Many of these species can often be seen in our parks, such as redwings, fieldfares and the glamorous waxwings which are often seen in small flocks raiding trees and bushes of any berries.

Surprisingly supermarket car parks are often a popular haunt for these birds due to the tendency to plant them with shrubs which produce a high berry yield.

An often maligned species, ivy can actually be of high value to biodiversity.

Unlike mistletoe, ivy does not parasitize nutrients from trees but just attach themselves to them, rarely causing damage. In fact, the growth of ivy adds complexity to the tree,creating important habitat for a range of species.

Ivy flowers in the autumn, and provides a rich source of late nectar to many beneficial insects like hoverflies and bees. In the depths of winter when other food is scarce the swollen black berries of the ivy ripen, providing welcome bounty for birds like woodpigeons, thrushes, robins and black-caps, so think twice before cutting it back!

An impressive plant both in stature and adaptability which we often overlook as a bulky weed, teasel an important and beautiful source of winter food for birds and habitat for hibernating invertebrates.

Amazingly wild teasel is partially carnivorous. This adaptation is known as protocarnivory. The plant can trap insects in small pools of water which gather where the leaves meet the stems.

They are considered to only be partially carnivorous due to the fact that the plant does not produce the enzymes needed to dissolve the invertebrates but rely on the invertebrates to decompose naturally.

One of the most iconic sounds of British woodlands can be heard at this time of year, the Tawny owl's charismatic too-wit too-woo" call is actually two calls.

At this time of year Tawny owls establish breeding territories. The female bird makes the "too-wit" and the too-woo" is produced by a male in response.

The State of UK Birds Report for 2017 published by RSPB identified the Tawny owl as suffering from significant declines in the UK. The species is a woodland bird typically nesting in cavities.

Our parks and greenspaces would not be what they are without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, the Friends of the parks. Winter is an important time for the work they do as it is the ideal time to manage our woodlands and other habitats. You will often see our volunteers clearing dying vegetation, coppicing woodlands or removing plant material. These are important tasks to ensure that the parks provide excellent habitat for wildlife.

If you are local to Bromley and interested in volunteering in your local park you can find details of Friends groups at

www.bromleyparks.co.uk/our-services/friends-groups/A


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