Residents invited to take a walk on wild side of city

The Oxford Times: Mark Bradfield prepares bird boxes Mark Bradfield prepares bird boxes

THE city’s largest park will host the second Oxford Festival of Nature this weekend.

Families can expect pop-up wildlife gardens made of recycled rubbish, birds of prey and nature walks that delve into the science behind wild habitats.

Organiser Andy Gunn said it would give residents a chance to explore Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, where the two-day festival will take place, in greater depth.

He said: “Most people who visit are playing on the sports pitches, walking their dogs or looking after their children on the playgrounds.

“But when they come along this weekend they can explore the hedgerows, ponds, woods and grassland to discover the small animals, butterflies, birds and beautiful insects like dragonflies.”

A team of experts will also be on hand to teach people about the things that they find, said Mr Gunn.

The free festival opens tomorrow evening with walks and talks starting at Cutteslowe Community centre, in Wren Road.

That will include discussions about “how hedgehogs can save the world” at 6pm, by Hugh Warwick, and also a feature on the bats of Cutteslowe at 8.30pm. At 10pm a walk to search for moths and other nocturnal creatures in the park will take place.

On Saturday, early risers can listen to the Dawn Chorus at 5am, in Cutteslowe Park, and then from 8.30am to 4.30pm activities continue throughout the day, including a “wild fair” from 12pm. That will include guided nature trails and talks on subjects like crayfish traps and bee population decline.

On Sunday, BBC Radio Oxford is recording a special Gardeners’ Question Time.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, which will be hosted by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and charity Science Oxford. Ecologists will also spend the weekend recording species as part of the research going into Oxford City Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan for Cutteslowe Park.

Wildlife Trust employee Mark Bradfield said: “We’re very grateful to Oxford City Council for giving us so much support.

“The parks team does a great job looking after the city’s wild and green spaces.”

For more information call 01865 775476.

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