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OXFORD WILDLIFE NUMBER 89 NEWS SPRING 2011


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NEWS FROM BOUNDARY BROOK NATURE PARK

his winter there have not been many sightings of the foxes but as soon as the snow fell the abundance of footprints showed that they were very active when we weren’t there. The picture on the front cover was taken on Christmas Day at Boundary Brook showing their footprints on the surface of the pond. We are hoping for another family of cubs to be raised successfully this year.

As we said in the last newsletter the planting of 450 trees donated in December by the Woodland Trust had to be postponed on several occasions this winter because of ice, snow, and rain. We received a further 50 trees, size 20-40 cm, in January but again the planned planting day had to be postponed. Eventually at the end of February a group of people planted 100 of the trees which included birch, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and oak. More land is now being cleared for the remaining trees. There is still a lot of pollarding and coppicing to do on the existing trees. We hope to tackle that soon.

One morning a barn owl was seen flying close to Boundary Brook in the daylight – was its diurnal rhythm upset or was it desperately searching for food? Birds have obviously had a hard time this winter, especially the smaller birds. Unusually there have been very few blue tits and great tits in the park which are normally very common here. Has anybody else noticed this? Usually they are the commonest garden birds.

There has been a wonderful display of snowdrops, followed by the dainty wild daffodils in the Bird Orchard and all the other spring flowers have done very well this year. We now await the wood anemones and fritillaries.

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EVENTS Past . . .

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t last – good weather for one of our events! The walk through Christ Church Meadow in January on a lovely sunny (if cold) Sunday drew a crowd of 30 people. We did a circuit of the Meadow stopping periodically to look at wildlife, talk a bit about the history and geology of the meadow and as Ian Gourlay came along he was a mine of information on the wide range of interesting trees we saw. We also had a bird expert who spotted a tree-creeper – in the same spot as on our last trip at the same time last year. We also saw a heron, the usual multitude of Canada geese cropping the freshly exposed grass and a group of deer.

Cornmarket he would like to plant two trees at the entrance to Market Street with seats around them for people to relax on.

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everal colleges are keen to offload some of their sports grounds and Corpus Christi’s land off Whitehouse Road will probably become a community woodland. Apparently the expense of providing pitches for cricket, rugby and football work out at about £900 a game for the University, so they are cutting back to five to six venues instead of 17. The city green groups Low Carbon West Oxford and West Oxford Community Renewables are behind the playing fields scheme. It was announced in the Oxford Times at the beginning of March that 100 volunteers planted ash, hazel, rowan, crab apple, oak, willow and lime trees on the Corpus Christi land and they are planning a vegetable patch and bee hives.

Our February talk on Trees in the Community by John Thompson was most interesting. He came to Oxford in 1972 to work for Oxford City Council. Amongst other projects, he was involved with the Botley Road recreation ground, Goose Meadow, Wolvercote, the Wolvercote Community Orchard and replacing the black poplars in Port Meadow. In Central Oxford he plans to introduce more trees for example in Broad Street and in the

We were again represented at the Oxfordshire Recorders and Conservation Day and three of our members very nobly helped with refreshments all day in exchange for a generous contribution to our funds.

Future . . .

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e will again take part in the Oxfordshire Goes Wild event at the University Museum of Natural History. This is always an excellent occasion with many children and grown-ups exploring the exhibits as well as the range of stalls with interesting activities. We shall again do the mini pond-dipping which is always very popular with children.

June – let’s hope we are spared from rain, ice and snow for these events! We are planning two surveys this quarter. We are again taking part in the survey of the Fritillaries in Osney Mead. I wonder if, for the third year running, we’ll find that their numbers have increased. Last year a group surveyed the new northern extension at Boundary Brook so this year we are going to be surveying the Eastern Extension to see what the experts can find there. You don’t need any expertise to join in these surveys although any knowledge is welcome. You can be a great help by holding a tape measure, noting down the finds and you will learn a lot at the same time.

We are hoping our Spring Open Day in April is not too late to enjoy the spring flowers. The fritillaries and bluebells should still be around and with luck we’ll have tadpoles and newts for the pond dippers. We are following this up with our Early Summer Open Day in

Cover photo: Fox footprints on the pond on Christmas Day at Boundary Brook by Harmitage

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Seasonal and unseasonal visitors

n spring 2010 we had a pre-arranged visit to our back garden (in Summertown, Oxford) by a keen party of local ponddippers. By contrast, in November 2010, after the first snowfall of the winter but before the heavier onset of snow that later covered Oxford, we had a surprise visitor to our pond.

Through our dining room window I spotted something small and dark scurrying across the snow – roughly the shape of a computer mouse, but bigger – at least seven inches long. My husband went to investigate and thought to take his camera. A rat? Ah, a small hedgehog. But shouldn’t it have been fast asleep in some warm, hidden spot? It came down to the edge of the pond for a drink and then made tracks across the snow, little tracks, until it disappeared into the shrubbery that borders our garden. We crossed our fingers, hoping that it would now settle down somewhere safe until warmer weather returned. Annette Bygott (and David Bygott) February 2011

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Suburban pheasants

n January 8th this year we exhumed a bundle of feathers which looked suspiciously like the tail feathers of a cock pheasant from a hole some 2 foot deep and about a yard from the conservatory where I had been going to have a pond, having had to remove the shrubs as a newly planted Acer had developed honey fungus; we had decided that the only thing to do with a hole was to have a pond. Hence the hole. However, pressure of other work intervened and we left the hole. On about the 6th I had first noticed this bundle of feathers partly covered by earth and tried to ignore it.

We realised that it must be the result of kill by a fox and I’ve had foxes in this garden in the past, but not recently. I rang Alan Hart and he said it was killed, as we thought, by a fox. A fox I can accept in suburban Summertown, but I have never seen a pheasant flying overhead – herons, kingfishers, owls and red kites, but not a pheasant. The following day I consulted a friend who is very keen on wildlife and who lives just north of me in the Banbury Road and he said he had had a cock pheasant sleeping in his garden this summer. Furthermore he had found out that on a bit of waste ground at the far end of Upland Park Road, further north of us, there was a pair of pheasants living there. The fox has been back to look for his pheasant here. The pheasant went the same way as my two earlier rats.

Come Monday we really looked at it and as I said exhumed the bundle which turned out to be the body of a very fresh large cock pheasant – just headless.

P.S. Has anyone become aware of the increasing use of the word ‘tad’ recently, especially among weather forecasters? There will be a ‘tad’ more rain in . . .’. I looked it up in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary: ‘tad informal ADVERB (a tad) to a minor extent; rather. NOUN a small amount of something. ORIGIN perhaps from TADPOLE.’ Delia Twamley

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Lye Valley/Hogley bog news

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serious sewage pollution leak occurred probably some time in January into the Boundary Brook from a road surface drain. This leak has been traced back to a surface water discharge from the Churchill hospital site, on the opposite side of the brook from the Warneford Meadow. A greyish-white growth known as ‘sewage fungus’ (not a fungus but actually long strings of bacteria) could be seen growing on all the stones in the brook and the sewage smell was awful for a very long stretch of the watercourse through the Local Wildlife Site of the brook corridor and adjacent to the Lye Valley South fen SSSI (old Hogley Bog). Thames Water and the Environment Agency were notified and the EA is cleaning up at the outfall by draining and dredging the balancing pond which receives water from the road surface drain before it enters the brook. At the time of writing (mid-February), it is unknown if the leak problem from the Churchill site has been solved.

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This sewage pollution was seen at a recent site visit with Thames Water representatives, Natural England representative, hydrologist Curt Lamberth and myself. This visit was to study the erosion problem in the brooks, but viewing the terrible sewage pollution had a significant effect on all present. As a result of this visit, Thames Water has agreed to fund a study on the whole issue of the erosion problems affecting the SSSI rare fens in the Lye Valley. They will be appointing a person in the next few weeks. This is not yet a solution but it is an important first step.

Good News (Late February) The Natural England Grant agreement has now been signed by all the private owners of South Fen. Money is now available to pay for willow pollarding to let more light in the fen to aid the wild flowers and for sedge and reed cutting later in the year. The pollarding will start in a few weeks time. Judy Webb

Himalayan Balsam

emember the pink alien Himalayan Balsam will be ramping back from buried seed again this year (stimulated by all the extra light, unfortunately). It is an annual (which can grow to 6ft and more!) so can be eradicated with a few years concerted effort, pulling it up before it flowers and seeds in late June. If allowed to get away, it will spread over the whole fen in just a few years, as it can propel its seeds several metres from the parent plant, from its explosive seed pods. So, I’m asking for help in the war against this plant again in 2011 to save the rare native plants from the invasion. Himalayan Balsam is easy and very satisfying to pull up when young. (See page 10-11 for details of the event on Saturday 25th June).

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Progress at Aston's Eyot

ince we last reported in the Autumn 2010 issue, the new Friends of Aston's Eyot has been active on this 30 acre/12 ha area of mixed woodland, scrub and nettles by the Thames in East Oxford. The site is currently clear of rough sleepers (a perennial problem), and we have had two intensive volunteer sessions clearing literally tons of rubbish, which the land-owner, Christ Church college, kindly removed with their truck. We have also had a planting day in which we planted free trees from BTCV (oak, birch, rowan, cherry) and also surplus seedlings from members' gardens (oak, holly, hazel, walnut, lime). Apart from the cherry, these species were either scarce (oak, birch), represented by one tree (hazel, lime, walnut, rowan) or, apart from seedlings, absent (holly). The eyot's woodland is currently dominated by a plantation of ash and poplar, a self-sown crack willow, ash, hawthorn, cherry patch and an 'orchard' of apple and pear apparently derived from surplus fruit dumped from the covered market in the days when the area was the council tip. BTCV also gave us ash, but we have plenty already, so does anyone want ash seedlings?

As spring flowers begin to come up, we are reviving our plant surveys, and continuing our bird recording - 73 species in 2010, and already a few new ones in 2011 (no waxwings, though). We are planning moth-trap and bat-detector evenings, a dead-wood survey, and more – anybody who would like to help or advise is more than welcome. Butterfly transects, anyone? We are currently having regular work days on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month at 2pm - meet at Jackdaw Lane gate – best to check first if you are not on our email list. Raking and burning cut Japanese knotweed and clearing some of the endless nettles to promote grassland are forthcoming attractions! We also now have a well-populated website, http://friendsofastonseyot.org.uk, where you can find details of the site's history and wildlife, work parties and events, and plenty of photos. The City Council's East Area Parliament have promised money for Japanese knotweed control (strimmer, glyphosate), but we have yet to secure funding for other projects - so we very much welcome new members whose subscriptions (£5/£3 concessions) pay for the public liability insurance required by the landowner to let us work on the site.

For further details see the website or contact us by post (with cash/cheques!) at 139 Hurst St, Oxford OX4 1HE or:

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Anthony Cheke, chair & bird recorder: anthony.cheke@innerbookshop.com Ruth Ashcroft, general secretary: ruth-ashcroft@ntlworld.com Claire Malone-Lee, membership secretary & plant recorder: malonelee@btinternet.com

Yellow Rattle –Rhinanthus minor

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ellow rattle is a native annual which once common in hay meadows. It grows very successfully on the “Butterfly Bank” near the large pond at Boundary Brook. We use it to weaken the flourishing grass there to let the wildflowers, so valuable to butterflies, thrive. It does this because it is a semi-parasite. This means that it makes its own food as it has chlorophyll so it turn carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates but it relies on its roots penetrating the roots of grass (and clover) to provide it with water and salts. This weakens host plant so it can flourish without competition the dense grass. It grows to about 0.5m high.

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You might like to leave an area of your lawn to be a wild flower meadow this year. This is wonderful for bees and butterflies and can look beautiful in summer but in late July to autumn, after the seed has been released, you can mow the area (sorry harvest the hay!) and you still have a “respectable” lawn for the winter.

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f you want to try growing yellow rattle and other wildflowers, in late summer cut the grass and scarify the ground, creating patches of bare soil onto which seed should be scattered but not covered. Walk over the area, as cows would do on a farm when they are grazed on the fields after hay-making. If you want to be less drastic I found just scattering the seeds on the lawn did work (see photo).

soil. Allow the seeds to remain on the surface. It gets its name because the seeds in the dried seed heads rattle if you shake them. If you find you don’t want a hay meadow the following year cut your meadow before the seeds ripen and are shed because it is an annual and will start afresh next year. The plant is attractive to bumblebees and if you have a range of other wildflowers you will be visited by many types of bees and butterflies.

As the seeds need warmth to germinate on clay soil sowing in March to May might be more successful. The seed normally germinates in early March, plants flower in June to July and seeds then ripen.

If you visit one of our stalls this year you will find seeds of many wildlife attracting seeds including yellow rattle for sale. They are beautifully packaged and come with instructions – see our last newsletter. You can also buy them from us through our website see the Home page - www.ouwg.org.uk

At the end of next season cut the “meadow” in late July or later if you prefer to make sure all the seeds have fallen. Remove all the hay before it rots to reduce fertility of the

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Photo Competition!

on’t forget our Wildlife Photo competition. As we said in the last newsletter, this will be judged by our committee and the closing date is going to be April 30th. You can submit any one photo (colour or black and white) of any British wildlife taken by the person who enters it. You are asked to give permission to OUWG for publishing the photo on the website, in publicity material or in the newsletter. There will be two classes: adults (18 or over) and the under 18s. There will be book vouchers as prizes. To enter please send your photograph plus a sentence describing your photo and your name, phone number or email address. The photo should be high resolution and can be sent as an email attachment to keene@ouwg.org.uk or as a hard copy to OUWG newsletter editor: Janet Keene, 7 Norwood Ave, Southmoor, Abingdon OX13 5AD

Urban Wheeled Life at Boundary Brook by John Gorrill 

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Wickedly Wonderful Wildlife Crossword! Clues: Across.

Clues: Down.

5. 9. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 18. 21. 22. 23. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 33. 36. 39. 41. 42. 44.

Well-known nature park. (8+5 letters) Gamekeeper's grumble? (6) Predatory fish. (4) Lose skin in hut? (4) Bird with a taste for tat. (3) Touch a flatfish? (3) Initially your local group. (4) Mixed-up bird in mews. (4) This bird deserves another. (4) Trefoil has love in its heart! (6) Annoying insect. (4) The Pipistrelle is one. (3) Female fox. (5) Wasps up in arms? (6) Porridge plant. (3) Plant-part ends a prayer. (6) Acidic fen. (3) Half a greenhouse gas. (7) Unleaded bird? (6) Can be canine or incisor. (5) Botley wildlife's favourite shop! (7) Plump fish? (4)

48. 50. 53. 55. 60. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70.

Saves much weeding and watering. (5) Conifer big in the Isle of Man. (7+3) Seed cases. (4) My fireplace can fly south! (7) Hoping for a better world. (10) Verb of action. (2) Pick that up, you messy tree! (4+6) Bird run over by train. (4) Ringed or golden flyer. (6) Squeamish woman flowers early? (8) *******berry: common in hedges. (7)

1. Tunnel-maker. (4) 2. Flower is a dragon! (4) 3. Fun bird. (4) 4. Nesting places. (6) 6. Bird has little flags? (7) 7. The eager editor. (5) 8. Conifers can't be this. (9) 10. This bird talks to rocks? (9) 16. Hard stone. (7) 17. Tree-prop. (5) 19. Fully-grown - eg. woodland. (6) 20. Good in soil, bad in dogs... (5) 24. Smooth, Palmate or Great Crested. (4) 27. Mouth-watering liquid. (6) 30. Frogs, toads but not snakes. (10) 31. Local cowslip? (5) 32. Insect and car. (6) 34. Choose a local trust by letter! (3) 35. Edible seed. (3) 38. It's Lepidoptera by order! (4) 40. Grounds for a local campaign? (4) 43. Herbicides. (11) 44. Wittenham's high-points. (6) 46. Mow with a spinning cord. (5) 47. 'Armful seabird? (6) 49. Beer plant. (3) 51. This fruit makes syrup. (3) 52. Opposite of 26 across. (3) 54. Dead as a ....... (4) 56. Fox's home has safe wiring. (7) 57. Dry-stone builder. (6) 58. Half a red kite in Latin! (6) 59. Well-dressed tree? (6) 60. Wrong person for a work-party. (5) 61. To view. (3) 62. Small Lake in District. (4) 63. ** only (sigh)... (2) 64. Clutch a deadly snake? (5)

We’ll print the answers in the next issue

John Gorrill

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Waxwings Waxwings got their namebecause some of the wing feathers have red tips and looked as though they had been dipped in sealing wax. They are plump and a bit smaller than a starling. They breed in Scandinavia and may be seen in the UK between October and March although the RSPB calculates that only about 100 individuals visit in a year although there may be “irruptions” if they run short of food in their breeding grounds. They are usually seen on the east coast but move inland if they are short of food. In autumn and winter they feed on fruits, as shown here, for example rowan, hawthorn and also cotoneaster and rose. This winter this waxwing and two others were seen in Botley feeding on the rowan tree situated alongside the church west of the parade of shops.

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 Waxwing in Botley by Pete Styles.

‘Geofizz’ at Boundary Brook 16 January 2011 The East Oxford Community Archaeology Project

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e at the East Oxford Archaeology Project really value our collaboration with OUWG, it has very interesting to be able to begin researching the archaeology of the area through investigations at Boundary Brook. The weather has not been kind however, and - although we have a great drawn survey of the open ground completed - we have been prevented from finishing the little excavations begun at the end of last year by the extreme wetness and/or frozenness of the ground.

high-tech equipment. Geophysics works like an x-ray of the ground and detects differences in the magnetic qualities of the soil. Ditches and pits, invisible on the surface of the ground, give higher readings than the surrounding soil and can be picked out on a computer plot of the results. To collect the information you walk at a very steady and timed pace, holding the tube of the instrument above the ground surface, up and down a 20 or 30m grid-square at intervals of 1 metre. Not as easy as all that! Unfortunately the ground was so waterlogged that the data could not recorded as well as we would want, but we will be back, and it was extremely useful to have the chance to train so many in such hospitable surroundings.

On 16 January we tried to do a geophysical survey of the open ground at Boundary Brook. There was a wonderful turnout of people, all of whom had the opportunity to learn how to conduct a geofizz survey and work with the

Jane Harrison and Paula Levick

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Some unusual observations

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local farmer was having some windows replaced and the next day noticed that some windows had not been puttied. He rang up his builder who was very puzzled. Anyway he went round and sure enough there was no putty. He applied the putty and the next day it had disappeared. The explanation was that birds had eaten the putty. After the cold winter they were hungry and were attracted by the linseed in it. I found on the internet that this was not unique and as a cure they now sell putty made without linseed.

“warning” stickers on it. It flew back and repeated an apparent attack several times. Later another one did the same thing. Is it an aggressive male attacking an apparent rival? Any ideas? We used to have a wagtail which attacked its image in the car wing mirror. At Boundary Brook we have noticed a shortage of tits of all sorts. Normally we have many blue tits, great tits and some long-tailed tits. Various other people have commented on this lack in East Oxford as well. It doesn’t seem to be just the cold winter as few seem to have nested locally last year. Has anybody else noticed this? Let us know and also send us any other wildlife observations. Janet Keene

Another event I thought was unusual is that and a friend of mine, who has had long-tailed tits at her birdfeeder outside her large sitting room window, watched one leave the feeder only to crash against the window in spite of the

Help for Wildlife

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id you read in the paper about the government schemes for preventing road deaths of wildlife? A new survey shows that councils and government agencies have spent almost £8.5 million on at least 270 schemes on preventing wildlife road kills.

There are “owl ramps” which are barriers by the side of the roads to ensure owls fly high enough to avoid being hit by lorries. On the waterways the Environment Agency have installed fish ladders to help fish to negotiate large weirs, in order to reach their upstream spawning grounds. Over some roads there are bridges for dormice which are wire walkways suspended on poles. It still doesn’t prevent the frequent animal corpses seen on our roads.

There are tunnels under roads with guiding fences for animals such as badgers, otters, newts and water voles.

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Invertebrate Identification Workshops 2011

Sunday 3rd April – Bumblebees Cost £35.00 Tutor: Ivan Wright (Shotover Wildlife)

Sunday 19th June – Spiders Cost £35.00 Tutor: Lawrence Bee (Hill End Centre)

Sunday 22nd May – Ground Beetles Cost £35.00 Tutor: Darren Mann (Oxford University Museum of Natural History)

Sunday 25 Sept. – Woodlice, Centipedes & Millipedes Cost £35.00 Tutor: Steve Gregory (Northmoor Trust)

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Each day will run from 9:30am – 3:30 pm (apart from the Flies Workshop – see above) and will be a combination of classroom/lab work and fieldwork at Hill End. The workshops are aimed at enthusiastic, adult beginners and will provide a basic introduction to the identification of the different invertebrate groups. Microscopes will be used where appropriate, but experience in microscope use is NOT ESSENTIAL. Equipment will be supplied but, if possible, please bring a hand lens. Please bring your own packed lunch - coffee and tea are provided.

For further information or to make a booking please contact Lawrence Bee or Kathy Smith at Hill End Centre, Eynsham Road, Farmoor, Oxford OX2 9NJ Tel: 01865 863510. Email: lawrence.bee@oxfordshire.gov.uk kathyLsmith@oxfordshire.gov.uk

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Grasses Identification Workshop – Shotover Wildlife 9


Sunday 5 June Grasses Identification Workshop (Day 1) Field Session. 9.30am-3pm. Introduction, learning and practicing ID skills. Sunday 26 June Grasses Identification Workshop (Day 2) Horspath Village Hall. Keying to species using microscopes. £6 total for members (to cover costs) Workshop tutor: Ivan Wright. Contact Ivan for more details and to book a place: irwright@shotover-wildlife.org.uk or phone 01865 874423.

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Rare Plants Group meetings Thursday 7 April: Cotswold pennycress, Thlaspi perfoliatum, monitoring at Bridgefield Bridge SEE and Palmer’s Bank at 10am. Saturday 9: April Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, monitoring at Aston Upthorpe, 11.00am. KW Tuesday 12 April: Cotswold pennycress, Thlaspi perfoliatum, monitoring at Linch Hill verges 2.15pm. AWM Monday 9 May: Green hound’s tongue, Cynoglossum germanicum, monitoring at Pyrton 10.00am. SKL Mon 16 May: Green hound’s tongue, Cynoglossum germanicum, monitoring at Stratford Bridge at 10.00am. SKL Saturday 21 May: Narrow-leaved water-dropwort, Oenanthe silaifolia, mapping at West Mead, many volunteers needed at 10.00am. AWM Thursday 2 June: Fen violet, Viola persicifolia, monitoring at Otmoor 10.00am. CRL Thursday 9 June: Fen violet, Viola persicifolia, monitoring at Otmoor, 10.00am. CRL Thursday 16 June: Wytham Arable Flowers survey 2.15pm. AWM Thursday 30 June: Meadow clary, Salvia pratensis, monitoring at Ardley 10.0am. CRL Contact Sue Helm 07774205972 for further details.

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EVENTS FOR OTHER ORGANISATIONS (For contacts see next page unless otherwise listed) APRIL Thursday 7: Sense and Non-sense of Birds by Dr Tim Seller. A welcome return visit from a popular lecturer who last spoke to us about feathers and flight. Sandhills Primary School, Terrett Avenue, Headington, at 7.45pm. Members free. Non-members welcome - £3, Students - £2. (RSPB) Sunday 10: Field Outing Stratton Audley, East Oxon. (Farmland). Details from Steve Alley (Field Trip Secretary) Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Tuesday 12: Fen Ecology by Dr Judith Webb. Fens are a special wetland habitat with chalky, alkaline water. Many have been lost to drainage, water abstraction and lack of management, but examples survive in Oxfordshire. The self-confessed fen-obsessive, Judy Webb, will take us on a pictorial safari of these ancient habitats. Members: Free. Visitors: £2. 7.45pm. at West Oxford Community Centre (WOCC), Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 0BT. (ANHSO) Wednesday 13: Otmoor RSPB by Reserve Representative David Wilding. Stratfield Brake Sports Ground, Kidlington. 7.45pm Details from Barry Hudson 01993 852028. (OOS) Sunday 17: Portland Bill and Lodmoor RSPB Reserve, Dorset. The scrubby areas on the Bill and the open water at Lodmoor provide resting places for tired passage migrants. Coach 7am. Booking: Anne Clark 01865 723868 or David Rolfe 01993 773123. (RSPB) Sunday 17: Wildlife Discovery Day at CS Lewis Nature Reserve. 1.30 - 4pm Risinghurst. Come along to the CS Lewis Community Nature Reserve for a fun filled afternoon of nature discovery for families. There will be guided walks, art and craft activities, pond dipping and much more. Refreshments available. Those with limited mobility please contact organiser in advance. Admission: Free. Meet: CS Lewis. Main Entrance at end of Lewis Close. Take the path between the houses. OX3 8HF. Grid: SP 560 065. Contact: Helen d'Ayala 01865 775476 x217 helendayala@bbowt.org.uk. No dogs please. (FoCSL) Sunday 24: Bird Watching Day at Farmoor Reservoir. All welcome. Details from Steve Alley (Field Trip Secretary) Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS)

MAY Thursday 5: Bird Watching and Conservation in the Lebanon by Chris Naylor who was Director of A Rocha Lebanon for 13 years and is now Operations Director for A Rocha International. Sandhills Primary School, Terrett Avenue, Headington, at 7.45pm. Members free. Non-members welcome - £3, Students - £2. (RSPB) Sunday 8: Field Outing Christchurch Harbour, Hants/Dorset (tidal mudflats). Details from Steve Alley (Field Trip Secretary) Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Tuesday 10: Claws - The Search for Crayfish in Oxfordshire by Dr Ellen Lee (TVERC/ANHSO). The once-common whiteclawed crayfish is now one of Britain’s most endangered invertebrates. Ellen Lee, who has been surveying crayfish in Oxfordshire since 2004, will cover crayfish anatomy, ecology, the drastic decline and possible future conservation strategies. Members: Free. Visitors: £2. 7.45pm. at West Oxford Community Centre (WOCC), Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 0BT. (ANHSO) Wednesday 11: AGM programme to be arranged. Stratfield Brake Sports Ground Kidlington. 7.45pm Details: Barry Hudson 01993 852028. (OOS) Sunday 22: Highnam Woods and Nagshead, RSPB Reserves. These woodland reserves are the summer homes of Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Nightingales and Wood Warblers along with many resident species. Coach 7:45 Contact to book Anne Clark 01865 723868 or David Rolfe 01993 773123. (RSPB) Sunday 29: Green Spaces Circular Walk. In Warneford Meadow there will be stalls from 10am-4 pm. CPRE is organising their nine-mile green spaces walk though Oxford which will link the 3 Town Greens in Oxford (Trap grounds, Warneford Meadow and prospective Town Green at Oxpens Meadow). The three Town Greens will have stalls with refreshments and information. They are taking part in the OPT green events programme on that Bank Holiday Weekend. (FoWM)

JUNE Saturday 4: Badger Watch with Dr Chris Newman who will give a talk at the Field Station in Wytham starting at 4.15 pm for about an hour. This will be followed by a picnic (not provided) and then groups of people will be taken to different badger setts in Wytham Woods for a badger watch, until about 9.00 pm. £5 per person. We regret no children under 11, no dogs. Booking is essential, via email: Linda.baldock@oxfordshire.gov.uk (OBG) Saturday 11: The freckled cowslip, burnet and green clover led by Dr Alison McDonald Wolvercote Bathing Place (SP487094) 2pm - 4pm A circular walk (including stile and uneven ground) looking at flowers typical of Oxfordshire’s flood plain meads. Alison McDonald has studied and written about the history and ecology of this habitat since 1979. Please contact Alison McDonald on 01865 556651 or alison@oxfordrareplants.org.uk for details. Members: Free. Visitors: £2. (ANHSO) Sunday 12: Field Outing Farlington Marshes, Hants. (Tidal mudflats). Details from Steve Alley Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Tuesday 14: Ants, Ant Intelligence and Ant-hills by Dr Tim King who will discuss ant biology, their ecological importance, communication and intelligence. He will cover the effects of yellow meadow ant on plants at Aston Rowant reserve where he is on the advisory committee and has been carrying out research since the 1960s. Dr King will follow up the lecture by leading a field trip to the reserve on 9th July. Members: Free. Visitors: £2. 7.45pm. at West Oxford Community Centre (WOCC), Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 0BT. (ANHSO)

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Saturday 25: Himalayan Balsam pulling on Hogley Bog, Lye Valley. 3.30 pm onwards. Meet at entrance to footpath to Lye Valley on Lye Valley Road opposite Coverley Road, or on site if you know where to go. Need wellies, gloves and secateurs (some balsams hide in brambles). Late start to hopefully avoid most of golfers balls! Judy Webb, 01865 377487. Sunday 26: Snelsmore Common, Berkshire (SU463710). Our annual visit to hear and see some of the special crepuscular bird species that breed on heathland. Car 19:00 Contact to book Anne Clark 01865 723868 or David Rolfe 01993 773123. (RSPB)

NEXT NEWSLETTER Please send your copy for the next newsletter as soon as possible to: Janet Keene, 7 Norwood Avenue, Southmoor, Abingdon, OX13 5AD or if possible email: keene@ouwg.org.uk. The final deadline is by the end of May. OXFORD URBAN WILDLIFE GROUP Website: www.ouwg.org.uk Don't forget that we are here to Kathy Chicken: Boundary Brook Nature Park Information help. Please contact any member of and Alan Hart (Warden) the committee for help or advice on Janet Keene: Newsletter wildlife matters and we will attempt Pat Hartridge: Membership Secretary to help or to put you in touch with Delia Twamley: Planning someone who can answer.

Oxford 770742 07979608013 Oxford 820522 Oxford 874487 Oxford 554636

CONTACTS FOR OTHER ORGANISATIONS Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire (ANHSO): Alison McDonald 556651 Botanic Garden: Oxford 286690 British Trust for Conservation Volunteers: 01296 330033 Butterfly Conservation: David Redhead Oxford 772520 Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE): Christopher Gowers Oxford 512047 City's Countryside Sites or Biodiversity in Parks Oxford 252240 email: parks@oxford.gov.uk Forest of Oxford: John Thompson Oxford 513528 Friends of Aston’s Eyot Ruth Ashcroft & Anthony Cheke 248344 Friends of CS Lewis Reserve (FoCSL): Helen d'Ayala Oxford 775476 Friends of Oxpens Meadow (FOM): Margaret Maden Oxford 721372 Friends of the Earth (Oxford): Jackie Walkden 07981 572629 Friends of the Trap Grounds (FoTG): Catherine Robinson Oxford 511307

Friends of Warneford Meadow (FoWM): Sietske Boeles Oxford728153 Local Wildlife Trust (BBOWT): Oxford 775476 New Marston Wildlife Group: Curt Lamberth 07763-191072 Oxford Conservation Volunteers www.ocv.org.uk (OCV):

Jo 07887 928115 Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum (ONCF): Oxford 407034 Oxford Ornithological Soc. (OOS): Barry Hudson 01993 852028 Oxford Tree Club (OTC): Ian Gourlay Oxford 245864 Oxfordshire Badger Group (OBG): Julia Hammett Oxford 864107 Oxfordshire Bat Group: David Endacott 01235 764832 Rare Plants Group (RPG): Sue Helm 07774205972 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB): Peter Wilkinson Oxford 452579 Science Oxford Live (SOL) St Clements: Oxford 728953 Shotover Wildlife (SW): Chair: Ivan Wright Oxford 874423 Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC): Gavin Bird Oxford 815411

UNIVERSITY of OXFORD – Department for Continuing Education Day schools Saturday 21 May 2011: Oxfordshire`s Biodiversity - Has it got a Future? Ewert House. Craig Blackwell, Philippa Burrell, Matt Jackson and James Paterson explain that Oxfordshire’s biodiversity will come under increasing pressure from development, agriculture and climate change in the years to come. Are existing strategies are robust enough to withstand these potential threats. 9.45am - 5.15pm. Fee from £50. Saturday 8 Oct 2011: Ponds. Ewert House Examine the natural history and ecology of ponds; explore their conservation and management; discuss the European Pond Conservation Network and other initiatives for pond owners and managers. A practical session on how to create and manage your own pond. The tutors will be Dr Pascale Nicolet and Dr Naomi Ewald. Fees from £55 including tea and coffee. Saturday 5 Nov 2011: Trees and Woodlands. Rewley House. Come and celebrate the International Year of Forests 2011, with a day on the UK’s trees and woodlands. Organised with contributions from the Sylva Foundation and Oxford University. Weekly Course Applying Ecology. 10 Tuesday meetings 10.30am-12.30pm. From 26 Apr to Tue 28 Jun 2011. Fees from £140. Ten meetings. Course Tutor: Dr Jocelyne Hughes. Cats points 10. Fees from £140. The application of ecological principles to the management and conservation of species and habitats can take place at the local level via practical local conservation and biodiversity projects. Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Environmental Conservation. Fees £1450 (EU) Starting September 2011. Application Application deadline Fri 27 May 2011ourse in UK wildlife and habitat conservation and management. Using a mix of classroom and practical hands-on teaching, the course includes sessions on: • Site evaluation and management planning

• • •

Understanding the implication of climate change for conservation management strategies Woodland, heathland, grassland and riverine ecology and management

Survey techniques including NVC, Phase 1, invertebrate sampling and GIS For more information contact the Administrator, Day & Weekend Schools, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA.

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Tel 01865 - 270380 or by email: pp@conted.ox.ac.uk. Website: www.conted.ox.ac.uk.

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OUWG EVENTS www.ouwg.org.uk APRIL APRIL WORK PARTIES Sunday 3, 10, 24: Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Sunday 3: Holywell Cemetery Open Day 2-4pm This Victorian cemetery in St Cross Road is managed for wildlife. There are many eminent people buried there and we will have guided walks to look at the wildlife, the graves of famous people as well as a raffle, a chance to buy local books on wildlife and, weather permitting, live music. It is not far from the buses in the High St and local parking in Longwall Street and Mansfield Rd is free on a Sunday. Saturday 9: Oxfordshire Goes Wild 2011. OUWG stall with mini-pond-dipping and other activities for children at this free event for families at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on Parks Road. 12-4pm. Thursday 14: Pre-AGM Committee meeting Donnington Community Centre, 7pm. From Iffley Rd turn down Donnington Bridge Rd and turn left into Townsend Sq. Centre is off SW corner of Square. Free parking. Sunday 17: Spring Open Day. 2-5pm. Come to see the spring flowers in all their glory, the active frogs and, if the weather is good, there may be early butterflies. There will be guided walks, and stalls with native wild plants, cottage garden plants and seeds to attract wildlife to your garden this year as well as booklets about wildlife for sale. Wheelchair access, admission free. Children under 14 to be accompanied by an adult. Saturday 23 Snake’s-head Fritillary Survey in Osney Mead led by Tim King. Meet on the south side of Botley Road at SP 492063 by the traffic lights at the entrance to the Seacourt Park & Ride. 10.30 am. Contact Tim on 01865 515453 or timothy.king@virgin.net if you intend coming or if you want further details.

MAY MAY WORK PARTIES Sunday 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Thursday 12: OUWG Annual General Meeting 7pm. From Iffley Rd turn down Donnington Bridge Rd and turn left into Townsend Sq. Centre is off SW corner of Square. Free parking. All members welcome, light refreshments and a chance to chat afterwards, ending at about 9.30pm. Sunday 15: Bluebell Walk on Shotover led by Ivan Wright from Shotover Wildlife. Meet in the car park at the top of Old Road at 2pm for a stroll through the bluebell woods, picking up tips on identifying other spring flowers on the way, finishing at about 4pm. Free but a donations for Shotover Wildlife welcome.

JUNE JUNE WORK PARTIES Sunday 5, 12, 19, 26 Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Saturday 18: Early Summer Open Day Come to see the wild flowers, the tadpoles in the pond, and, if the weather is good, there may be butterflies. The group will be leading guided walks and selling native wild plants, seeds and cottage garden plants to attract wildlife to your garden this year as well as booklets about wildlife and children’s activities. Children under 14 to be accompanied by an adult. Wheelchair access, admission free. 2-5pm. Sunday 26: Botanical Survey of new east extension at Boundary Brook led by Judy Webb and aided by members of the Oxfordshire Botany Loop 2pm.

BOUNDARY BROOK NATURE PARK. Come and help us to manage the Nature Park. You can choose your task from a variety of jobs. A warm welcome guaranteed. You need not come for the whole time. Please ring on the day of the work party to ensure it has not been cancelled through bad weather etc. Contact: Alan Hart 07979608013 or Kathy Chicken 01865 770742. There is usually someone working at Boundary Brook most days so, if you want to come at other times, find out who will be there and when by ringing Alan Hart 07979608013. We plan to have work parties every Sunday, weather permitting as there is so much to do but check before arrival. Bus routes Cityline 4A, B or C; Stagecoach Route 3. OXFORD URBAN WILDLIFE GROUP If you

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wish to contact OUWG or would like to become a member write to the editor: Janet Keene, 7 Norwood Ave, Southmoor, Abingdon OX13 5AD or phone/fax Oxford 820522. E-mail: keene@ouwg.org.uk

Registered charity no 1101126 Printed on paper from sustainable forests.

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Spring 2011 Newsletter  

OUWG newsletter.

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