Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Winter Walking - Health is a Walk in the Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is encouraging everyone to get outdoors this winter and celebrate winter walks with their Hearty Walks programme. 

Walking can help reduce your risk of heart disease, help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great.  Research has also indicated that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.

There are additional benefits to walking in natural environments, such as parks, woods and other green spaces. The National Environmental Education Foundation found that walking in nature can have a positive effect on depression, memory, creativity and problem solving skills. We have  some fantastic green spaces in Mid and East Antrim so why not get out and enjoy them this winter. 

Celebrate winter walking:

Sunday 6th December, Carrickfergus Mill Ponds, 10.30am-11.30am
Sunday 10th January, Blackhead Path, Whitehead, 2.30pm-3.30pm
Sunday 24th January, Bashfordsland Wood, Carrickfergus, 10.30am-11.30am
Sunday 14th February, Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus, 2.30pm-3.30pm

Walks will be led by trained walk leaders. Pedometers will be available for walkers to count their steps. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Hedgehog Heroes

A big thank you to all the hedgehog heroes who came out to plant a native hedgerow and build hedgehog homes at Eden Allotment Gardens on Saturday (21st November). 

New homes for hogs

Hedgehogs are in decline and one of the main reasons is loss of habitat. You can do your bit to help hedgehogs by providing suitable habitats such as hedges, leaf piles and wood piles, or by building a hedgehog home. Hedgehog homes should be placed out of direct sunlight and harsh winds, for example, behind a garden shed. Hedgehog nests are usually made from moss, grass and leaves, but you can also fill you hedgehog home with dry straw or newspaper. They should have a compartment for the hogs to sleep and a smaller entrance corridor that will keep them safe from badgers, foxes and dogs. 

For more information on helping hedgehogs you can visit: http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/

Gabriella Hooper & Lisa Haggan planting a native hedgerow 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Get Voting!

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has seven parks in the running to win an exciting new award – The Fields in Trust UK's Best Park, as voted by YOU!” award.

Voting is open for seven more days. If you think your local park is special and deserves the recognition of a Fields in Trust Award then please vote online.

Click here to vote.

Voting is open until 5pm on Wednesday 25th November.
Voting will be conducted via the one vote per email address rule.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Day Of The Hedgehog

Join us on Saturday 21st November, at Eden Allotment Gardens, Carrickfergus, from 11am-1pm, to celebrate hedgehog conservation.
Learn how to plant a native hedgerow and build 'hog hotels'

The number of hedgehogs in the UK has plummeted in recent decades and there are thought to be as few as one million remaining. Changes in in the way we manage our land have had a real impact - fewer hedgerows and woodlands mean a loss of vital habitat and the increased use of pesticides has reduced the number of insects for our spiky friends to feed on.

The popularity of hard wooden or metal fences has made it hard for hedgehogs to move from place to place. As they become isolated in smaller and smaller areas of greenery, they cannot feed or mate. It doesn't matter if you have a garden full of worms, beetles and other bugs which hedgehogs love, if they can’t get in, they can’t benefit.

You can plant a native hedge to help our local wildlife. To achieve a thick hedge, it is advisable to plant 5 plants per metre, in double staggered rows. It is beneficial to have as many different species in a hedge as you can. For a mixed native hedge try to include three plants of the same species per metre with one each of two other species. A recommended composition would be: hawthorn 50%; blackthorn 15%; hazel 15% and 20% of other species such as guelder rose, spindle, dog rose and holly. The best time to plant is between November and March.

By planting up native hedgerows and building ‘hog hotels’ people can play their part in giving hedgehogs a home now and into the future. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Tree-mendous 'Friends Of'

 A big thank you to the 'Friends of'' Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen for coming out in the rain this Saturday (14th November) and helping to thin and fell trees to make a clearing. Clearings and open spaces are very important structural elements within woodland, providing valuable habitat for a wide range of wildlife, different from that in densely wooded areas. A diverse range of sun-loving plants and insects benefit from sunny open areas. The 'Friends Of' group worked to create a large clearing which we will continue working on next year to create a wildflower meadow. 

The felled wood was used to create habitat piles. Dead and decaying wood is often an overlooked element of wildlife gardening, but is very important. Woodpiles are a valuable habitat for mosses, lichens, fungi, and many insects, which in turn feed birds, bats, frogs and small mammals such as hedgehogs. The natural cycle of dead wood breaking down also fertilises the soil which improves the growth of new trees and plants.

The group was especially pleased to see a frog hop across the newly created clearing and take up residence in one of the newly created habitat piles!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Friends Of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen November Task

This month we will be focusing on tree thinning. Thinning is often the most important thing you can do to influence the growth and health of a woodland - proper spacing and thinning can reduce overcrowding and relieve tree stress. Thinning helps create a more open site and allows sunlight to reach the woodland floor. This can increase the biodiversity of the woodland as it encourages an under-storey of small plants, shrubs and flowers which attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which in turn provide food for a range of birds and bats. 

Meeting at Oakfield Community Centre, 10am (to 1pm), Saturday 14th November

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

UK's Best Park Voted By You!

The Fields in Trust Awards have been running since 2012 and this year are celebrating a new award category –“UK's Best Park, as voted by YOU!” This award provides the public with an opportunity to vote for their favourite local green space, whether that's a park, sports field, playground, woodland or something else entirely.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has seven parks in the running to win this exciting new award:

Carnfunnock Country Park, Larne
Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead
Dixon Park, Larne
Ecos Nature Park, Ballymena
Greenisland Play Park, Greenisland
Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus
The People’s Park, Ballymena

We have some fantastic parks in Mid and East Antrim and we encourage everyone to vote for their favourite. If you think your local park is special and deserves the recognition of a Fields in Trust Award then please vote online.

Voting opens at 5pm on Thursday 5th November and runs until 5pm on Wednesday 25th November. Voting will be conducted via the one vote per email address rule. Visit http://fieldsintrust.org/bestpark/nominations to vote.

Diamond Jubilee Wood, Whitehead

Greenisland Play Park, Greenisland
Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus

Monday, 2 November 2015

Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Awards Ceremony

Winners and runners-up received their well-earned certificates and prizes at the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition Prize Giving Ceremony at Carrickfergus Town Hall on Friday 30th October.

By actively supporting the competitions, residents not only make their own garden or business more attractive, but also assist Carrickfergus’ entry to the Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition and the Britain in Bloom Competition. The judges were very impressed with the number of high quality entries this year.

Congratulations everyone and thank you to all who took part.
 A full list of winners and runners-up can be viewed here

2015 winners and runners-up
The Mayor with Best Kept Garden winner Georgina Daphne Brown
Best Kept Community Planting Scheme winner: Charles Sheils Charity. The Mayor pictured with Christine Harper
The Mayor with Best Kept Allotment winner Jenny Hawthorn
The Mayor with Uel McClure, collecting the award for Best Kept Commercial Premises winner The Royal Oak
The Mayor with Children's Painting Competition 15 & Under winner Lauren Hamill
The Mayor with Children's Painting Competition 10 & Under winner Sophie McFaul 
The Mayor with Tallest Sunflower Competition winner Olivia Hadden
The Mayor with Poetry Competition winner Rebecca Irvine