The Estates Grounds team prides itself on maintaining the grounds to a high standard of hortcultural excellence with wildlife gardening being one of its main priorites.
The Open University Walton Hall Campus in Milton Keynes is a 45 hectare site diverse in character with much of the wildlife situated on the periphery of the campus.
There are species rich grassland meadows which provide terrestrial habitat for the Great Crested Newt a protected species.
Small woodland copse areas are located around the site with shelter belt plantng of English Oak and numerous established hedgerows.
There are Willow pollards and newly planted black Poplar located on the banks of the River Ouzel which runs through the campus from the south west of the site.
What do we do for biodiversity?
Established sustainable herbaceous flowers and grasses are located near the Jennie Lee Building on top of the newt hibernaculum and near the
Catering Hub and Security lodge to provide nectar for bees and butterflies and other beneficial insects.
Dead Seed heads and vegetation is left insitu until the spring to allow insects to overwinter.
Great crested newts are present on campus in large numbers and we have created breeding ponds,
enhanced existing ponds and created hibernacula where the newts hibernate through the winter months.
A newt handling licence is required to handle this protected species.
There are medieval ridge and furrow species rich grassland meadows to the south west of campus which provide terrestrial habitat for the Great Crested Newt and for bees, dragonflies and butterflies.
To the west of the site are meadows adjacent to the river Ouzel. Over 100 species of wildflower and grasses and nearly 50 species of bird have been recorded here. The number of insect
species are likely to run into hundreds and various mammals have also been observed. The meadows are mowed annually in June/July and the hay baled to prevent the soil becoming rich in nutrients.
In a good season we harvest 1,300 bales of hay.
Bee Orchids have colonised amenity lawns adjacent to Briggs, Gardiner 2 Buildings
and Stewart Hall court Yard.
They flower between May and July.
The flowers produce scent like the female bee and the shape has evolved to atract male bees.
Dead wood standing for nesting woodpeckers and invertebrates provide a food source for birds.
Habitat piles have also been created from tree thinning operations.
We have a planting programme to replace some of the trees removed during thinning operations with
local native tree species. Bird nesting boxes will be atached to some of the larger trees.
River Ouzel Walk
Crack willow pollards are established on the river embankment and their deadwood provides habitat for
invertebrates which in turn are a food source for birds. Otters and water voles have been seen in the river and on
the embankments. The blue flash of the Kingfisher and dragonflies can also be seen.
Various species of fresh water fish can be spotted from the church bridge, these include Dace, Chub, Roach and trout.
Nettles on the embankment provide habitat and a food source for butterfly larvae.
A Water Vole spotted on campus next to the River Ouzel.
A Grass Snake hiding in a Yucca filamentosa plant next to Walton Hall