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NEWS FROM BOUNDARY BROOK NATURE PARK Recently a massive clearance is being carried out, attacking the impenetrable area of brambles between the housing in Boundary Brook Road and the silver birch wood in the northern extension. This area had accumulated, over the years, a tremendous amount of rubbish, partly thrown over from the housing but also left over from when the area was allotments. The rubbish has filled the current skip which will now be replaced by yet another fresh skip.

clear so they don’t scratch and entangle our visitors. Judy Webb, who did the survey of the eastern extension recently, recommended replacing them with wild brambles. This of course will be a massive task but Alan and volunteers are removing the roots as well and we hope that we can establish wild blackberries in places. We will need to thin some of the trees in this extension as they were planted close together and, on this moist and fertile soil, nearly all have survived. We have some more trees to be planted later in the year in some of the newly cleared areas. We are also going to put in some different species including small-leaved lime which is very attractive to insects as it produces copious quantities of nectar which our other trees don’t produce. We are also going to make a start on the new paths.

Brambles are good for wildlife, insects feed on the flowers’ nectar and birds and other animals enjoy the blackberries (including humans - see below). Surprisingly a large part of the foxes’ diet in summer can be blackberries and the very dark scats (droppings) that are found in summer are full of blackberry seeds. The blackberries we have at Boundary Brook are garden escapes from the allotment days and, although their berries are enormous, their viciously thorned stems seem to grow as you watch. We constantly need to keep paths

Why not come on one of our work parties, meet new people, get healthy exercise in the fresh air and do a most useful job!



Past . . .

The Archaeological work parties on July 6th and 7th continued their state-of-the-art training at Boundary Brook for the volunteers who will carry out the planned investigations for the ambitious East Oxford Community Archaeological Project (EOCAP). A fragment of a Roman tile was found (see below) – have we a Roman settlement on our site? Probably not - but an exciting find.

Our July Open Day was fairly quiet, in spite of the good weather, probably as it clashed with other nearby events. Our picnic on the other hand was wet and a photographer from the Oxford Mail had arranged to come along and take photos of pond-dipping. Luckily a family with three children braved the weather and, armed with their own net, they rapidly made for the pond. The Elder Stubbs Festival was, as usual, a richly varied and colourful event. It got off to a slow start but we were lucky in that, in spite of the poor forecast, we were able to set up in the dry and although it then rained it cleared up before the end so we were able to put things away in the dry. One big attraction on our stall was the home-made jams, chutney and muffins made by Jo Aldhouse and Kathy Chicken. Some of which used the enormous blackberries loading down the rampant brambles at Boundary Brook. We leave the ones at the bottom for the mammals and the ones at the top for the birds but we use some of the middle ones.

Jane Harrison who runs the project writes, “Many thanks to the group who finished the test-pits in Boundary Brook, conducted a survey and washed a large number of finds. Despite the forecast we had some lovely weather and two very pleasant days. We have nearly finished washing the current crop of test pit finds (although you will keep generating more), with a nice collection building up of medieval pottery in particular. In the autumn-winter we will run workshops and teaching sessions to sort, examine and report on the cleaned finds, so adding to the information being accumulated from the test-pits.” Cover photo: Nuthatch feeding by Peter Keene


Craft Day This event at the end of the summer holidays attracted families and the children joined in the pond-dipping enthusiastically. Although the water level was very low and the mud, when disturbed, was very smelly the catches were good because the animals were all concentrated in the remaining water. After discarding the weed there was a good haul of newt tadpoles and also an adult, beetles, leeches, caddis fly larvae and assorted insect larvae.

They also made cone bird-feeders, animal masks and model dragonflies in the shelter of the gazebo (see photo at base of previous page). Holywell Cemetery is managed to encourage wildlife and members of our group have advised the best way of doing this whilst allowing visitors easy access to the graves. The Oxford Open Doors event we took part in there, attracted 480 visitors over the 2 days. A great success.


Future . . . In October we have arranged to be shown round Aston’s Eyot. This 30-acre (12 hectare) site is owned by Christ Church. It was the city rubbish tip in Edwardian times and has developed a mainly scrubland habitat together with open areas, woodland and riverside habitats but it was badly damaged by a bottle-collecting club digging with bulldozers in the 1990s. Since then there has been no management until Friends of Aston’s Eyot was set up a year ago to manage it with Christ Church agreement. They are going to show us around and tell us what they are doing.

In November we are adding a short Extraordinary General Meeting to our normal meeting to formally adopt a few minor changes which have been made to our Constitution to update it. If anyone would like to see a copy beforehand please contact me - Janet Keene email: or tel: 01865 820522. Jane Harrison is giving us a talk on 30 November at Science Oxford Live on the work of EOCAP (see previous page) which has done so much preparatory training work at Boundary Brook We will hear about their work and what their plans are for the future.

We will again have a stall at Wolvercote Apple Day and at the start of half term we are having an Autumn Open Day at Boundary Brook.

See rear cover for details of all these events.


Grant News We are delighted that we are being awarded a grant of £1,700 from TOE2 (Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment). This is money is derived from the landfill tax credits from Grundon Waste Management. The grant is for developing the new extensions for things such hoggin for the paths, waterproof clothes for volunteers, another skip for the rubbish, trees and wild flowers.


Have you seen our website recently? Mark Franks, our Webmaster, is doing a wonderful job updating and improving the website. The latest addition is a short piece of the film made by Oxford Film and Video Makers Ltd. about Boundary Brook Nature Park . They were supported by Oxford City Council. When you go to the site look at the drop-down menu under “Wildlife” and watch the film by choosing “Youtube” or explore the numerous photos now in our “Gallery”. Now the newsletter can be seen in full colour. You might even want to cancel your black and white copy and print out a colour one instead! You can also see some past issues as well although not all are in full colour.


WANTED! Have you got any spare jam jars? Jo Aldhouse, who has made the wonderful variety of jams, jellies and chutneys for sale, at our events has now run out of jars. These and Kathy Chicken’s jams have sold tremendously well (see News from Boundary Brook). If you have any jam jars spare could you take them to Boundary Brook some time or contact her on 07985 033 418.

Have you got any small mesh chicken wire to spare? The chicken wire which covers the two flat areas of the pond-dipping platform to prevent slipping on the wet wood has now badly rusted and is rather dangerous. It is breaking up and I caught my feet on it once or twice at the open day. We need to replace it but the only sources we found sell it by the large roll. If you have a small amount to spare please could we have it? We could arrange to collect. Please contact Alan 07979608013 or me on Oxford 820522

or email Janet Keene.


The Future of the Horse Chestnut You have probably noticed the horse chestnut trees with their withered brown leaves this summer. Trees in most parts of the county are looking very badly affected. Initially in the spring most of them looked fresh with bright green leaves as if they had recovered from their diseased state. They are best known to generations of children as the valuable source of conkers. The game of conkers was first recorded in the Isle of Wight in 1848. In spring the familiar horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) has cone-shaped spikes of white flowers, with red spots, looking like candles. They are widespread throughout the country but they are not native to Britain. Originally they came from a mountainous area in the Balkans, from parts of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and neighbouring countries. The reason it got its name is that people thought it was a relative of our chestnut and the horse may have come from the belief that it could be used to treat horses or possibly because when the leaves fall they leave a horseshoe-shaped scar which has seven naillike marks. The horse chestnut tree spread out from the Balkans as conkers were carried by travellers from Constantinople and they were growing in Vienna by 1576 and in France and Britain a few decades later. Sadly these stately trees

are subject to a good many diseases, possibly because of their limited genetic variability. One of the commonest diseases has been Guignardia leaf blotch, caused by the fungus Guignardia aesculi but now there are two more serious diseases one from a leaf miner which is a leaf-mining micromoth (Cameraria ohridella). It was first seen in northern Greece in the late 1970s. It was then spotted in 1989 in Austria and was noticed on Wimbledon Common in July 2002. Since then it has been reported from sites throughout England and Wales. The eggs hatch in large numbers and the larvae burrow through the leaves which all turn brown by late summer and the leaves fall early. Up to 700 leaf mines have been recorded in a single leaf. These mines mean that photosynthesis is severely affected so conkers are smaller. Unless the fallen leaves are destroyed, to kill the larvae, they spread massively the following year. The other disease is caused by a potentially lethal bacterium (Pseudomonium syringae pv. aesculi) which in the past was only known from horse chestnuts native to the northwest Himalayas. It causes bleeding canker which now affects half the trees in the UK. This canker oozes dark reddishbrown, sticky liquid from patches of dying bark. This is due to bacteria killing the inner bark, cambium and outer layers of wood. This disrupts water and nutrient transport and if the canker girdles the stem it dies. Janet Keene

!"#$!"#$ From the present

News of the Bittern %


and the past

In celebration of OUWG’s 10th anniversary Chris Lewis in our Winter 1998 issue wrote:

You may have seen recently in the press that the bittern, Britain’s loudest bird, is now making a come-back having recovered from near extinction. In the late 19th century it was classed as extinct in the UK. However it returned but in 1997 it was reckoned there were only 11 males left. This year the estimate is that there were 104 booming males in the UK although sadly none at Boundary Brook – yet!

One day I shall always remember was the damp, misty day in February (1996), watching a bittern by the pond – I was trying to keep still and hidden – the bittern obviously knew I was there and had ‘frozen’ – I was hoping it would start hunting again. Suddenly it shifted and ‘froze’ again facing another direction - a cat was exploring the marshy area. The cat was about six feet from the bittern before it became aware of the bird, and suddenly stopped. The result was all three of us staying frozen in a three-way Mexican stand-off, all trying to watch the other two. In the end the gathering gloom forced me to leave, but I often wonder how the confrontation ended.

Once, we did have this rare visitor. In OUWG News Winter 1996/7, Pat Mansfield reported that she first saw the bittern at Boundary Brook in the middle of January1996. She next saw it in mid-March a few days after the frogs started spawning. It stayed until early April, about the time the frogs stopped spawning. Although we have photos it is so well camouflaged that you can’t see it!

I think that attracting a rare bird (however briefly) to a piece of land that otherwise would have been built on is an achievement we should all be proud of – and it shows that even urban wildlife can produce great surprises.


What will be the future of this area rich in wildlife? As you know Boundary Brook Nature Park was created from derelict allotments 21 years ago. We have just been told of another area where there are allotments which are no longer used. (see photo below). What will be their future?

Thames. Grass snakes, slow-worms, toad and woodpeckers are sometimes seen and I think I heard the sound of a sparrowhawk last weekend. One possibility, suggested by Judy Webb is to create an orchard. There will be a meeting for anyone interested in seeing the site, and possibly giving advice, on Sunday, 9th October at 11 am. We shall meet at the gate to the allotments in Lenthall Road. Advice on the siting of bird boxes will be particularly welcome. Let’s hope we have some good weather. To get there from the Iffley Road and Rose Hill Road, if you are heading out of Oxford, turn right just before you reach the ring road into Ashurst Way. When you reach The Oval branch off into Lenthall Road and the allotment site is on your right after the road makes a right-angled bend. The Stagecoach bus Route 3 will take you to The Oval from central Oxford.

Susan Heeks writes to say: It's not a big site like BB, just a couple of ex-allotments. It's only in the last few years that there's been a big demand for allotments and these two in the corner had been used as a dump. Self seeded trees had grown up making it difficult to reclaim for veg growing. These allotments are right next door to grounds belonging to Rose Hill Primary School. There are plans to turn these too into a wildlife area. One allotment holder, who grew up in Rose Hill, lived in the house next door to the site and thinks the hedge alongside the old allotments is very old and has been part of the track down to Iffley Church and the river for as long as the church and the ancient yew have been there. The school grounds, allotments, cemetery and churchyard seem to form a wildlife corridor which extends down to woodland beside the

Sightings of wildlife are now being recorded. Since mid-June there have been many sightings of slowworms, several of grass snakes - one was found trapped in netting and recovered after rest and re-hydration, toads, field mice, a fox, a muntjac and a green woodpecker. Sue Heeks


Letter from Judy Webb about help needed in the Lye Valley Dear Janet, This autumn the two Lye Valley fen sections are having a really extensive cutting of the reeds to benefit the flora and invertebrates (yes, some reed is being left for the birds!). The Oxford Conservation Volunteers are booked to do raking up of the reed and rush to piles on Sunday 2nd October from about 10am. Whilst they are asking their members for a very good turn out, I’m worried there will be too much cut reed and rush for them to do without more help. Removal of all cut material is very important for successful flowering of the rare flowers such as the marsh helleborine orchids. New areas will be cut so that the plants can spread where they have not been able to survive before (cutting will enable seed to germinate because light will be let down to the peat). I wonder if we could ask OUWG members if they could come along to help out if free for a few hours on the day? They need a rake, gloves and wellies. They must check in with the OCV leader on arriving for health and safety points and sign out with them on leaving, that is the only requirement OCV have for general helpers (apart from the fact that they need to be adults and not children). It would be really helpful if any OUWG volunteers could be there for the health and safety talk at 9.45am. Otherwise the leader will have to repeat it for every new person to arrive . . . which they will do, but probably would prefer to get on with the work! I’m not sure which of the two fen areas they will be starting in (South Fen or North Fen). I will be there for the morning to help and advise on pile location. I suggest anybody who thinks they might be able to come along to help should check in with me by email or ’phone first and then I can contact them when more specific details are known. People could come for an hour or stay all day, depending on what time they have free. Hope you can drum up some extra help, Judy Webb

(Tel. 01865 377487 Mob. 07968395243)


Summoned by Smells... Butterfly-spotters are like butterflies themselves: they are lured from shady places by signals unsensed by the rest of us but bewitching to themselves. So when I found the Oakley Wood car park abnormally full for a Sunday morning in July, and a swarm of outdoor types ready for off on a track nearby, I felt thoroughly nosey. Ramblers dress in raucous colours and prod the earth with skisticks, joggers gurn sweatily while poachers travel by mothy moonlight . . . but dodgy hats, baggy clothes, small notebooks and big cameras distinguish a wildlife group on the move. What was the quest of this secretive tribe?

Dennis began by mixing shrimp paste with water in a plastic bottle and poured a small puddle on the ground every few hundred yards. Later he split the group in two and off we all went in search of the Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). The plan was that on the way back we'd find these rare beasts drawn down to ground level by the wafting smell of shrimps. As a newcomer who had never heard of the Purple Emperor till then, I felt no shame in asking the obvious questions. Several butterfly enthusiasts were patient enough to answer, so I'll note down what I learnt . . .

Why are Purple Emperors such a big deal?

We were drawn away by a silver-locked leader who swirled a vessel of murky potion. Its power seemed so great that others fell away from its evil vapour. From time to mystic time the wise one would anoint the dust with that elixir, while his spell-bound followers peered among trees, scanned the grassy glades and whispered of wonders soon to be seen - Ringlets, Gatekeepers, the Brown Argus, a Brimstone perhaps and . . . mighty amid that woodland kingdom . . . the Purple Emperor himself! At a fork in the sacred grove, our chief cast off ten of his disciples for sins as yet unspoken - go forth, he seemed to say, and return not until you have worshipped The One We Adore . . .

They are not the largest nor the rarest of British butterflies, but they are elusive and a challenge to spot. Firstly, they appear in just a small empire of southern counties - Oakley Wood and Finemere Wood are likely thrones near Oxford. Secondly, spotters have only two weeks in the sunny weather of early July to lay in wait. Climate change has brought this time-slot forwards, so don't believe a guide-book that isn't recent. Thirdly, if the Emperor is on a leaf in a tree-top, you need sharp eyes or twenty pairs of eyes to spot the majestic being. The first we found - a male - was on an oak branch beside the forestry track, but I couldn't see him for the life of me. Helpful people tried . . . "D'you see that dead leaf? Look to the left and up a bit . . ." Not a glimpse, I'm afraid.

I tripped on a rock and came back to my senses. Not Moses, not Lord Voldemort, but Dennis Dell was in charge and the group of about twenty were members of the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation.

What do they look like? Later we saw a male on the stony ground, so I could get a good look and a clear photo. Surprisingly, the Purple Emperor is not purple but a drab brown until - SHAZAM! - the sunshine strikes from a certain angle. A rich purple sheen ennobles the wings and is gone. There are two orange eye-rings to the rear of the hind- or back wings. The bright yellow proboscis is striking too. I began to understand why people had driven from three counties to see him. The female doesn't have that purple sheen but she's a bit bigger in her wingspan - up to 75mm for the male as against 85mm for the female.

Dennis Dell pours shrimp past and water on a log

A male Purple Emperor at last ! A biologist once tuttutted me for saying proBOSK-iss (a funny word for a funny organ, that miniature elephant's trunk). "It's pro-BOSEiss," he preened. Butterfly people say pro-BOSK-iss, and so will I.


How can you be sure it's a Purple Emperor?

spotting on motorways (that's counting Eddie Stobart trucks), you'll say 'each to his own' in tolerant amusement. The formal name for spotters would be lepidopterists, but they refer to themselves as butterflyers.

The Emperor flies alone rather than in groups. Dennis told the story of a new spotter who reported seeing eight or nine Emperors close together in a place they'd never been seen before. He, the Species Champion for his region, was doubtful but polite. The cluster turned out to be Purple Hairstreaks and the new spotter never made contact again. A sad tale, I thought. You might see Purple Emperors eight times in a day in one place, but that would be one or two individuals coming, going and coming back.

Why is a butterfly not a moth? You might guess that a moth is drab and nocturnal while a butterfly likes colour and daylight. Not so, for there are dull brown butterflies and moths that fly in daylight. The crucial difference is in the shape of the antennae and the position of the wings when resting. A butterfly holds its wings upright so only the undersides are visible when at rest. A moth keeps its wings flat. Spotters say the difference is arbitrary and leave it at that. The website has a section about moths, so you can read about both together if you like.

The enthusiasts' website has no mercy for those who show less than total respect: "Anyone who confuses the Purple Emperor with the Purple Hairstreak should give up butterflying altogether and take up ironing."

Butterflies are in the air now. David Attenborough was talking about them on Radio 4 to promote The Big Butterfly Watch. He is patron of Butterfly Conservation, whose members I met. Today (July 16th) on The Daily Telegraph website I see an article by Louise Gray called 'Butterfly spotting is popular again.' It says that in the 1980s the national charity had under 1000 members but now it has 16,000, of whom 38% are female. One reason she cites for this increase is digital photography and the brilliant colour pictures butterflies provide. Another draw is the low number of British species - 59 - which doesn't frighten beginners. Some spotters in Oakley Wood emailed Dennis after the trip, taking his species-count for the day to twenty-one. 21 out of 59 and just a few miles from Oxford!

How to prove you’ve really seen what you say you’ve seen

What does a butterfly want from shrimp paste? That's not the worst because dog poo is another attractant, as well as cattle- or horse dung, banana skins and rotting flesh. The shrimp jar didn't smell as bad as I expected - a bit like Marmite, I'd say. The theory is that butterflies can't get enough minerals - especially sodium from plants, so the males look for an animal source which they can safely land on. The smell attracts them but the point is nutrition which enhances male fertility. Butterflies land on mud or puddles for moisture, but rain and strong wind deter them from flying. The spotters I joined by accident on a hot Sunday had seen very little in the same wood the day before - a wet Saturday.

Setting off into Oakley Wood Oakley Wood has an alias. When I visited in the early 1980s, it was Bernwood Forest - it's a mile beyond Stanton St. John, past Bernwood Meadows and just beyond a left-hand turn for Horton cum Studley. The M40 runs behind it. With the Oxford Conservation Volunteers I went there many times to coppice the mixed woodland. There were two problems: firstly, we weren't allowed a bonfire to burn the cuttings and keep warm on winter Sundays. I think there was a danger of igniting the conifer plantations nearby. Secondly, deer would eat the regrowth from the coppiced trees - those soft young shoots that spring up from the base of a trunk that's been cut down close to ground level.

Who are the butterfly spotters? Mostly men whose hair resembles the Silver-Washed Fritillary in colour, but not at all solemn or obsessive. For sure the notebooks recorded 19 butterfly species on the day but there was plenty of joking, resting and time for sandwiches at mid-day. Dennis, a wry character himself, told me that spotters tend to be eccentric and described a colleague who pursues the female Emperor whilst calling out, "You minx! You minx!" If you yourself collect thimbles or garden gnomes or do Eddie-


We tried to solve both problems by building a wig-wam of cut branches above each coppice stool to fend off the deer. The heavier wood was stacked in habitat piles or 'insect hotels'. One aim of the work was to open the woodland to butterflies, which prefer dappled shade to dense tree cover. The favourite tree of the Purple Emperor is oak, which we left to grow into standards/mature trees. The Emperor larvae feed on Salix caprea, and the Goat Willow, which could be shaded out by taller rivals without a bit of help. Maybe our work extended the Purple Empire and I never knew it till 25 years later. Finally, if you're eating your sarnies in a nature reserve this summer, don't be surprised if some woodworms turn up to help you. Why? Because they like to take a bite out of doors... John Gorrill. The writer coppicing in 1982


I am sure you all recognised the source of the centre-page article last month called ‘Carry on up the food chain’. I’m afraid John Gorrill’s name got omitted from the end of the article. We do appreciate the informative, amusing and quirky contributions that John Gorrill regularly submits each month. Many thanks, John.


Bird life on Port Meadow Recently two of us did a circular walk around Port Meadow. It is amazing how many types of birds there were – in the trees, in the air, on the meadow and in the river – swans, ducks, geese, grebe and many more. John Gorrill took this photo of two swans with 7 cygnets in July at the edge of Port Meadow near Wolvercote. There's a culvert under the road that crosses the railway and this connects Port Meadow to Wolvercote Lakes, the new reserve he once wrote about. The culvert is closed to people but not to swans.

Photos by John Gorrill !"#$!"#$

Wildlife observations Alan Hart reports that the bird cherry at Boundary Brook normally flowers once a year in the springtime but it has just come into bloom again. Was it the warm early spring that has upset its “body clock”? Have you any unseasonal observations? We’d like to list local wildlife sightings – do send them in to the editor or phone Oxford 820522 ready for the next newsletter.


Leaflets galore on Shotover The Wildlife Trails

generously funded by the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

Shotover Wildlife is very pleased to announce the completion of our project to produce a wildlife commentary to accompany each of the three permanently marked trails around Shotover Hill and Brasenose Wood. Each leaflet describes the route in detail, interspersed with information on the habitats, and the plants and animals that you might see along the way. There is also a general miscellany of geological and historical points of interest. The Red Trail, at 1.1 km (20-30 minutes) is hardly a challenge, but goes via the very popular Sandpit. The Yellow Trail is 2.5km (about 1 hour) and a very pleasant walk. It goes around the central fields of the ‘Shotover Hill’ section of the Country Park, going down through the heath to Westhill Farm, and back via mature shady woodland. The Green Trail (5km) is the longest and takes about 2 hours at a steady stroll. The route circumnavigates the whole Country Park, including Magdalen and Brasenose Woods and Horspath Common. Cleverly (if I may say so!) Shotover Wildlife has provided the Green Trail with a neat 2-part leaflet which creates the option to do either half separately if preferred.

Autumn is a great time to enjoy the Trails on Shotover, with the beginnings of the autumn leaves and the feeding flocks of birds relishing the abundant hedgerow fruits.

The ‘Trail’ leaflets can be supplied on receipt of a self addressed A5 envelope. The wallets with all leaflet titles enclosed are also free and can be despatched at just the cost of the postage and packing - £3. Write to Ivan Wright at 15, Blenheim Way, Horspath, Oxford, OX33 1SB or for further information email Shotover Wildlife at

The Leaflet Wallet After 12 years of researching and writing, Shotover Wildlife has now produced dedicated leaflets in over 25 titles: from Mammals to Ants, Trees to Mosses and from Geology to Myths and Legends. This growing bundle is now available in a smart and dedicated wallet, most


Shotover Wildlife th



Mosses Course

November 18 , 19 and 26 : A 3-day Identification course. Application form from Jacqueline Wright, or phone 01865 874423

Trees in winter Sunday 22 January 2012: 1-day identification workshop in Horspath Village Hall and Shotover. Focussing on the trees of Shotover and suitable for complete beginners. An introduction to identifying trees without their leaves. Starting with an indoor session using a simple key to identify bud and twig samples and followed by outdoor identification on Shotover. Details and booking from Jacqueline (see above).


EVENTS FOR OTHER ORGANISATIONS (For contacts see next page unless otherwise listed) OCTOBER Sunday 2: Conservation in the Lye Valley. Briefing at 9.45am. Meet in Lye valley entering down track off The Slade just 50m south of the junction with Girdlestone Road. Sunday 2: Checkendon, Oxon – a pleasant walk through South Chiltern woods. Details - Steve Alley Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Tuesday 4: The living soil: how fungi help plants by Dr Sarah Watkinson (mycologist in the Department of Plant Sciences University of Oxford) explains the essential activities of soil fungi, and why we would not have any wild flowers or forests without this fungal infrastructure. 7.45 pm (£2 for non-members, members free.) Old Schoolroom, St Peter’s, First Turn, Wolvercote. (ANHSO) Thursday 6: The Jewel Hunter - All the Worlds Pittas in a Year an illustrated talk by Chris Goodie. There are 32 species of Pitta in the world and are often called Jewel Thrushes because of their striking plumage. Free to local group members. Visitors welcome, £3 on the door. Sandhills School, Terret Avenue, Oxford OX3 8FN. 7.45 pm. Contact 01491 612600, E-mail: (RSPB) Sunday 9: Meeting at Lenthall Road Allotments 11am. See page 5 for details. Wednesday 12: Wildlife of a Working Forest by Mike Reid. Stratfield Brake Sports Ground 7.45pm. (OOS) Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27: Family Fun at Sutton Courtenay – Nature’s Storybook. Explore the reserve using tales from your favourite children’s books. Activities to get the whole family excited about nature. Just drop in, no need to book. Activities take around 2 hours. Picnics welcome. Donation: £3/child.. Solve puzzles and find clues to discover the hidden treasure. No dogs please. Picnics welcome 10am-4pm. Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre OX14 4TE Contact: Katie Fenton 01235 862024, (BBOWT) Sunday 30: Coach Trip to Farlington Marshes and Langstone Harbour, Hampshire. An area of marshland, rough pasture, scrub, freshwater lagoons and a vast muddy harbour provides an ideal habitat for a range of birds. Coach leaves Headington Hill Hall (Brookes University) at 7.45 about £17 depending on numbers attending. Booking essential with Anne Clark. Tel: 01865 723868 or E-mail: (RSPB)

NOVEMBER Thursday 3: Wolves - in Yellowstone, Spain . . . . . and Britain, an illustrated talk by Ian Rowlands who is very involved in the conservation of wolves. Sandhills School, Terret Avenue, Oxford OX3 8FN. 7.45 pm. Free to local group members. Visitors welcome, £3 on the door. Contact Tel: 01491 612600 E-mail: (RSPB) Sunday 6: Christmas Common, Oxon - Woodland Walk. Details from Steve Alley Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Monday 7: Bernard Tucker Lecture: A species is anything I say it is! by Professor Nigel Collar (Leventis Fellow in Conservation Biology at BirdLife International) Venue Exeter Hall, Oxford Rd, Kidlington, at 7.45pm. Admission £2 (ANHSO and OOS) Wednesday 16: Papua New Guinea by Mike Harrison. Stratfield Brake Sports Ground 7.45pm. (OOS) Saturday 19: Pond Management and Creation. Local expert Rod D’Ayala leads this workshop. Find out why ponds are such a special wildlife habitat. Learn how to create and improve ponds for wildlife plus the ecology and wildlife benefits of management and design techniques. Get hands on experience with creating a new pond (no digging required!). Bring packed lunch, waterproofs, sturdy shoes and warm clothing. Booking essential. 10am-4pm No dogs please. Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre OX14 4TE Admission: £30 (BBOWT volunteers free) Contact: Volunteering Office 01865 788309, (BBOWT) Sunday 20: Coach Trip to Blashford Lakes, Hampshire and Stanpit Marsh, Dorset. Blashford Lakes is a series of former gravel pits surrounded by grassland and woodland. It is an internationally important site for thousands of wildfowl that visit the area every winter. Stanpit Marsh includes salt marsh with creeks and salt pans, reedbeds, freshwater marsh, gravel estuarine banks and sandy scrub. Coach leaves Headington Hill Hall (Brookes University) at 8am Price: About £17 depending on numbers attending. Booking essential with Anne Clark. Tel: 01865 723868 or E-mail: (RSPB)

DECEMBER Sunday 4: The Lodge, Sandy, Beds. Visit to RSPB Reserve. Details from Steve Alley Tel. 01608 659628. (OOS) Tuesday 6: Success of the smelliest: Pheromones and Sex by Dr Tristram Wyatt. (Emeritus fellow of Kellogg College and a senior research associate at the Department of Zoology). Pheromones (chemicals for communication) are the main signals used by all animals from nematodes to dogs, on land and underwater. Finding and choosing mates for sex are key uses for pheromones, though they also mediate all sorts of other behaviours such as foraging trails in ants and alarm in fish. Do humans have pheromones? 7.45 pm (£2 for non-members, members free.) Old Schoolroom, St Peter’s, First Turn, Wolvercote. (ANHSO)


Wednesday 7: A Lane around the UK by Mike Lane. Stratfield Brake Sports Ground 7.45pm. Members free, nonmembers invited to make a donation. (OOS)

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: The final deadline is by the end of November. OXFORD URBAN WILDLIFE GROUP Don't forget that we are here to help. Please contact any member of the committee for help or advice on wildlife matters and we will attempt to help or to put you in touch with someone who can answer.


Kathy Chicken: Boundary Brook Nature Park Information and Alan Hart (Warden)

Oxford 770742 07979608013

Janet Keene:


Oxford 820522

Pat Hartridge:

Membership Secretary

Oxford 874487

Delia Twamley: Planning

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: Forest of Oxford: John Thompson Oxford 513528 Friends of Aston’s Eyot (FAE) Ruth Ashcroft 01865 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 (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: 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 and Weekend Courses Sat 8 Oct 2011. Ponds: Natural History, Management and Creation. Ewert House. Fees from £55 This one-day course will be in three parts and the main topics covered will be: 1) Pond ecology and natural history: includes historical function, biodiversity, wildlife and biodiversity status and threats. 2) Pond management: includes: Why manage ponds? Managing shade, silt and vegetation and the risk of management 3) Pond creation: Targeting and planning pond creation, Designing pond creation schemes. Tue 17 Apr to Tue 26 Jun 2012. Applying Ecology: 10 weekly meetings 10.30am-12.30pm. Fees from £150 Includes: Introduction to ecology; communities and populations; Biodiversity & extinction in the UK; Stability, disturbance and succession; 4 field trips to range of habitats. Tue 17 Apr to Tue 26 Jun 2012. Birds Of Oxfordshire: 10 weekly meetings at Rewley House 7.00-9.00pm fees from £150 includes developing the skills needed to identify and record the characteristic birds of Oxfordshire, understand their ecology and habitats, and explore current threats and solutions to their conservation. There are several flexible, part-time courses designed for busy professionals and delivered by experts often involving online participation. Subjects include: Climate change and climate change modelling. Ecological survey techniques. Environmental conservation. International wildlife conservation practice. Oxford Energy Futures Conference. Sustainable urban development

Advanced Diploma in Environmental Conservation (Mod 1) 2011-12 For more information contact the Administrator, Day & Weekend Schools, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. Tel 01865 - 270380 or by email: Website:



OCTOBER OCTOBER WORK PARTIES Sunday 9, 16, 23, 30. Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Sunday 9: Wolvercote Apple Day: We will have a stall at this enjoyable event where you can sample and buy apple products. You can buy apples straight from the trees, drink apple juice, eat apple cakes, buy jam and get advice about apples. 2-4.30pm. Saturday 15: Walk around Aston’s Eyot. Meet at entrance gate at the bottom of Jackdaw Lane (off Iffley Road) at 2pm. We will be shown around the site by members of the Friends of Aston’s Eyot and hear what they have done and what they plan to do (see page 2). Sunday 23: Autumn Open Day at Boundary Brook Nature Park 2-4pm Come and see the autumn colours and as usual there will be guided tours, pond-dipping etc. In conjunction with CSV Make a Difference Day 2011. NOVEMBER NOVEMBER WORK PARTIES Sunday 6, 13, 20, 27. Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Thursday 10: Extraordinary AGM at 7pm to discuss minor adjustments to constitution, followed by General Meeting at 7.30pm. Donnington Community Centre. From Iffley Rd turn down Donnington Bridge Rd and turn left into Townsend Sq. Centre is off SW corner of Square. Free parking. Wednesday 30: East Oxford Archaeology Project: The first year a talk by Jane Harrison (Project Officer, East Oxford Community Archaeology Project). In its first year the Project has uncovered lots of exciting information about the past of this area: including new work on the medieval leper hospital, the Roman landscape and local place names. Come and hear an update from Jane Harrison on everything from excavation to old maps. 7.30pm. Science Oxford Live Individuals £5, SO Friends and OUWG members free. Booking in advance is recommended tel: 810000 or online Science Oxford Live, 1-5 London Place, Oxford. DECEMBER DECEMBER WORK PARTIES Sunday 4, 11, 19. Boundary Brook Nature Park: work party between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. Thursday 8: Christmas get-together. Bring food to share, Christmas Punch and soft drinks provided. Join in a light-hearted Quiz. 7pm at Donnington Community Centre (see Nov 10th for how to get there). 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 but check if doubtful weather before arrival. Bus route: Stagecoach Route 3. OXFORD URBAN WILDLIFE GROUP If you 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 Tel: Oxford 820522. E-mail: Registered charity no 1101126 Printed on paper from sustainable forests.


Newsletter Autumn 2011  

Newsletter of Oxford Urban Wildlife Group, Oxford WIldlife News

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