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e had a second brood of foxes this year from one of our resident families. The first batch had 5 cubs and the second in late summer had three cubs. In spite of some wet work parties the Cornfield has been “ploughed up” and reseeded.

trees. We hope this can be done as soon as the thaw sets in.


he East Oxford Community Archaeological Project was successfully launched in October (see front cover) and the first practical task was at Boundary Brook in November when 2 teams of volunteers learnt how to go about excavating test pits and methods of surveying a site. An excellent drawn ground survey was produced. The second event, when they'd planned to use geophysical equipment to explore our site and the Cricket Road allotments, sadly had to be postponed because of the very cold weather - the higher tech equipment as well as the operators(!) don't work as well at such low temperatures. Instead Jane Harrison took the large and enthusiastic group on an archaeological walk from Boundary Brook, across the Golf Course, up Lye Valley and along to Warneford Meadow and back via the old Leper Hospital off the Cowley Road, discussing the prehistoric, Roman and medieval landscapes. The geophysics is now planned for 16 January and test pit digging will continue. See for more on archaeology in East Oxford.  Chapel of the old Leper Hospital. Photo: harmitage

On 10 October we had a visit from the local branch of It gets its name from the fact that scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. On 10/10/10 the local group had a day of action at Boundary Brook (see next page). We had hoped to have a big tree planting event on December 5th. The Woodland Trust has donated 450 trees, sponsored by 20th Century Fox. The work parties started to clear the scrub and bramble for tree planting but the unexpectedly large amount of rubbish which had been thrown on to the site from the unfenced area by the flats created a problem. Following that the icy weather meant that the ground wasn’t cleared in time but as it was so frozen we couldn’t plant the

EVENTS Past . . .


s you can see weather has affected several of our planned events. The weather for Apple Day in Wolvercote was bad but it couldn’t be postponed for a week because of the bridge repairs being carried out there. However, weather didn’t affect our two very good talks. Roy Overall gave us a fascinating insight about the research he carried out, recording and ringing the swifts that nest each year in the tower of the Natural History Museum in Oxford. He also included a film, made for television, showing in close-up the family life of the swifts nesting in the tower.

Forest to a site of quarrying. More recently he and other members of the group have done an amazing amount of work surveying and recording in great detail the ecology of the different habitats, producing explanatory leaflets for the general public and studying the best way of managing habitats to conserve them for the future. We are hoping to follow up Ivan’s talk with a visit to Shotover Park next summer.


e were lucky in having a sunny, if chilly, morning for our December hunt for the rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs at Boundary Brook. We were led by David Redhead of Butterfly Conservation and were lucky enough to find two of these minute eggs on the blackthorn. It is the first record in this 1 km square. We also found 3 eggs of the bluebordered carpet moth. (See page 9 for other hunts this winter).


n November Ivan Wright, of Shotover Wildlife, gave us a very clear explanation of how the geology of Shotover influenced the habitats there and also the varied uses of the hill in the past, ranging from being a Royal

Future . . . We start the year by leading another walk around Christ Church Meadow in January (see back page for details). This was so popular two years ago we decided to repeat it. We pooled our expertise and between us we spotted a great range of interesting wildlife, plants and landforms.

March, to celebrate 21 years of Boundary Brook, we’ll have a richly illustrated talk showing how the area of derelict allotments was converted into the thriving and expanding Nature Park which has won awards and is now classified as a SLINC (Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation).

John Thompson, a tree expert from the Forest of Oxford, will talk to us in February about Oxford’s trees and in

 Cover photos (clockwise from the top left): Andrew Smith MP, Jane Harrison and others at the launch of East Oxford Community Archaeological Project (EOCAP) 19/10/10 (JK). Carrying out plane-table surveying at Boundary Brook (JK). Display of our finds at the EOCAP launch (JK). More surveying (JK). Sieving the contents of a test pit (harmitage photos).


We’re getting to work; what about you?


hat was the strong message sent to Government by green-thinking Oxford volunteers as part of a global day of action on 10th October 2010. On Sunday 10/10/10, people in at least 185 countries turned out at over 6,000 events to do something positive and concrete to tackle climate change. Organisations from grassroots collectives in Nepal and Bolivia to major charities like Greenpeace and Oxfam were backing the day. Japanese sumo wrestlers rode their bicycles to work; women in Pakistan learnt how to use solar ovens. President Nasheed of the Maldives was up on his roof installing solar panels, and Barack Obama was joining the effort by putting back the solar panels on the White House living quarters first installed by Jimmy Carter. It will have been the largest day of climate cutting the world has ever seen.

the world we live in. Concerned global citizens from all walks of life got their hands dirty to demonstrate a simple belief – if the world wants to tackle climate change, we all have to roll up our sleeves and get working. How can they be so sure? Well, scientists believe the safe limit of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million – but we are now at 390, and seeing more and more climate-related disasters. One of the organisations coordinating 10/10/10 is, set up to ask the world’s leaders to meet the 350ppm goal. Another is the 10:10 movement, calling for people, towns and countries to cut their carbon footprints by 10% against 1990 levels by the end of 2010 – as the city of Paris agreed to do as part of 10/10/10.


ill it work though? That depends much more on political leaders sitting up and taking notice, and when the worldwide climate workers down tools, they will be picking up phones and pens to tell their politicians about what they’ve been doing and why. As founder Bill McKibben puts it, “Maybe now that they’ve seen us hammering in solar panels, they’ll decide to hammer out a [climate change] treaty.”


xford was determined not to be left out. A group of local volunteers turned out on Sunday morning to weed, coppice trees and prepare for shrub planting at the Boundary Brook Nature Reserve in east Oxford. They wanted to improve our public health, strengthen community in our city and make the world a better place for everyone – but most importantly protect the balance of

Sara Heron Photographs: Jacquii John/Lavendel Photography



Earn some money for the group!

e have been invited to help with the running of next year's Recorders and Conservation Day on Saturday 26th February at County Hall, Oxford. This is always a most interesting event and last year several of our members helped with the refreshment tasks during the day. We have been asked to do this again and in return OUWG would be given a generous donation. We have some volunteers already but would anybody else be willing to help? Please contact me if so. It involves serving and clearing away the mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee and tea as well as lunch. Janet Keene 01865 820522 The new pond iced over Photo: John Gorrill



Membership renewal

any thanks to all of you who have renewed your standing orders and apologies to those who have had difficulty because of a hitch in transferring renewals. This was because there was a hiatus when the bank closed our existing account before starting the new one. We would also be very grateful if all members who pay any income tax could fill in the Gift Aid form because we can then claim back 25p for every £1 you contribute and this can also be claimed retrospectively. If you haven’t done this already you’ll get a form with your next renewal notice, do please fill it in it.


Update on the Lye Valley and old Hogley Bog


s we said in our last newsletter, this summer has seen an excellent flowering of Marsh Helleborine orchids and since then the Grass-ofParnassus has had the most number of flowers (82) that I have ever seen on this site since I started counting in 2007. For the South Fen, the volunteer shearing and raking really helped the Grass-ofParnassus, which requires very short vegetation. Pink flowered Marsh Louseworts were incredibly abundant in the North Fen, the highest population anywhere in all Oxfordshire!

The not so good news is that the cleared scrub is re-growing fast in the South Fen and there are holdups with the grant which Natural England has achieved for more scrub clearing, willow pollarding and reed cutting at this site. Also the rain since mid summer has caused quite a lot of flash flooding in the stream and bank erosion is accelerating – at a visit in early November big chunks of bank were seen to have collapsed into the brook bottom. As you saw in the last newsletter the bank near the South Fen is now eroded to a depth of 1.78m. This worrying acceleration of the erosion has stimulated a recent site meeting between an Ecologist Adviser from Thames Water, ecohydrologist Curt Lamberth and myself. Thames Water are involved because it is road surface drainage water, entering the Lye Valley at the top end of the brook that is the source of the erosion, and the channel deepening is the cause of the drying out of the fens, thus it is damaging legally protected wildlife fen sites (SSSIs). I explained that a number of local people were concerned about the ongoing damage to the fens and the advice was that it is really important for us all to write into Thames Water as soon as possible with our complaints. A good weight of local concern will help Thames Water give the Lye Valley problems a higher priority.

Marsh Lousewort The newest discovery in the South Fen is a good population of the tiny Marsh Whorl Snail (Vertigo antivertigo). You would never notice this unless searching on hands and knees as it is one of the smallest snails – a real diddy little thing at only 2mm long when fully grown. I think Whorl Snails look like tiny versions of an old fashioned barley sugar sweet. Below is my poor photograph of one, where my dirty finger will make clear the size. This is a declining, very uncommon species, totally restricted to fens where the vegetation is kept short, so the sedge and reed shearing really helped a load more of these survive to adulthood this last year.

I have contacted Thames Water and there are three ways you can register your concern for the sites (any one will do). The points you might like to make are listed below, but of course write what you like. If you have volunteered to control the balsam or shear the reeds, then say so. A very brief letter will do – this is one of those cases where it is a count of the number of complaints that really matters in pushing this site higher up the Thames Water agenda for being dealt with. Judy Webb

Marsh Whorl Snail  The beastly Himalayan Balsam had an enormous flowering in the South Fen area and it took quite a few volunteer sessions to reduce it (see photo on next page). There was not time to remove it all, but the volunteer effort went a long way to stop it taking over. If nothing had been done, the problem would have been ten times worse next year.

Three ways you could register your views: Some Trustees of OUWG have already sent letters to Thames Water. Would you be willing to contact them too? Use your own words to explain your concerns or use some of the suggestions below. Make sure you give your full name and address. 1. Email: 2. Write a letter to: Thames Water Utilities Ltd., PO Box 436, Swindon, SN38 1TU. 3. Telephone 0845 9200 800 and talk to a person, make sure your complaint is logged, explaining clearly which site it is and your concerns, making sure you mention clearly that the erosion is damaging legally protected sites (the 2 bits of SSSI fens).


Points worth making:


lash flooding from the road surface drainage water which is entering the Lye and Boundary Brooks in Oxford City is rapidly eroding the bed of the brooks to such an extent that the two adjacent SSSI fen areas (Lye Valley North Fen and Lye Valley South Fen) are drying out and rare species of plant and invertebrate are threatened. Near the South Fen SSSI, the bank erosion has proceeded to the point where the bed of the stream is now 1.78m below the ground surface and thus the brook runs in a very deep gulley. Some of the threatened species are: Grass of Parnassus, Marsh Helleborine orchids, Bog Pimpernel, Marsh Pennywort and Marsh Lousewort, all of which are rare in Oxfordshire. These SSSI fen sites have legal protection from damage such as is being caused by the erosion. Removing invasive Himalayan Balsam  Flash flooding and bank erosion have washed away one bridge in the area and currently undercutting threatens a second bridge where the Southfield Golf Course crosses the Boundary Brook. Erosion and bank collapse have caused a sewer breach and flooding of properties further downstream in the Cowley Marsh area near the Boundary Brook is serious possibility. Please would Thames Water look into solutions for alternative disposal of this damaging road run-off water as a high priority. Although they may suggest you contact the Environment Agency the drain pipe entering at the top of the valley is the property of Thames Water. So the problem is caused by Thames Water's water and therefore the erosion is their responsibility.


Eat my school! Larkrise Primary school garden project


here’s a new outdoor garden classroom growing at Larkrise. Parents Sally Mullard and Phil Pritchard are working with Emma Hood and other staff to develop the school grounds. Initial questioning of youngsters has revealed a desire to grow cherry tomatoes. Inspired by Pegasus School in Blackbird Leys, Fir Tree in Wallingford and Cholsey primary, we want to establish some extensive fruit, vegetable, wildlife and flower growing areas, a food forest and an outdoor space for teaching. We welcome willing hands, come on, dig in for victory! If you’d like to get involved please e-mail:


Have you a camera?


e are going to have a Wildlife Photo competition. This will be judged by our committee and, as there is not much wildlife at this time of year the closing date is going to be April 30th. We’ll put a reminder in our next newsletter but it gives you time to think about it and to keep your eyes open for possible subjects. 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 or as a hard copy to OUWG newsletter editor: Janet Keene, 7 Norwood Ave, Southmoor, Abingdon OX13 5AD.


Mark is updating and improving our website Mark Franks is now the OUWG webmaster and he has been updating and improving our website - do keep an eye on our site. He has also started to put some photos of our activities on a Flickr site. You can find them at - have you any photos you’d like to share?


A Branch of the Arts?


ave you ever stopped to look at a tree and thought 'that's more beautiful than any sculpture could be'? It's happened to me quite often and, if I have my camera, I take a photo. Here's a group of tree pictures from around Oxford. I hope they'll speak for themselves but if not - I'll add a few comments for each one.


his tree (on the right) really is a sculpture and you may have seen it in the middle of Bury Knowle Park, Headington. It was carved by chainsaw from a dead pine tree by Matt Cave in 2007. It's called the Storybook Tree because it features characters from books by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis lived in Risinghurst and Tolkien lived in Sandfield Road, Headington, so they were both local residents as well as famous authors. I took the photo in last winter's snow.  

Here's another artistic use of trees, but huge stumps imported from Ghana, West Africa in this case. Ten of them are displayed on concrete plinths in front of the Natural History Museum in Oxford. What's the point? An artist called Angela Palmer intends them to highlight the global problem of deforestation - the missing trunks represent our planet's missing trees. That's why it's called the Ghost Forest. It's been shown in Trafalgar Square, in Copenhagen for the climate change conference and now it's rooted in Oxford until next July. There's a movement in design for children's play areas to be more natural. Even if you're too old for a go on the slide, you may have noticed less steel and more timber used in climbing frames, swings and so on. Oxford City Council saves some money and follows the trend by leaving large felled tree trunks beside its play areas. This one is in Bury Knowle Park.  I've often seen children clambering along it. There's another behind the John Allen Centre in Cowley and one more at Quarry Hollow, Headington. You may have climbed on others...  This two-tone tree has been gnawed by ponies grazing at Sydlings Copse Nature Reserve near Stanton St. John. I took the photo last winter and expected that the tree would die. When I went back in summer, the tree was in leaf as if nothing had happened. Why do ponies and horses do this? Answers range from boredom, the sugary taste of certain trees' sap, lack of salt, lack of minerals, lack of fibre or a return to the feral behaviour of four-legged ancestors who grazed on bushes and trees. From looking at the bark too high to get chewed, I take this to be a wild cherry tree. Its bark is used in herbal remedies and herbal tea, so perhaps the ponies are wiser than we know. Other trees nearby were untouched. Tree nibblers find another victim


 I took this photo in the Botanic Gardens because the White Mulberry looks like a sad old caterpillar rearing upwards. The wooden prop keeps it that way. Trees lived happily in the world for millions of years before humans came along, so trees in general don't need propping, pruning and primping to survive - in fact we need them more than they need us. An individual tree is different, for oldtimers like this one can live far beyond their natural span with human help. A hazel tree might live for 30 years for example, but coppiced hazels have lived for over 300 years. How it begins. . .

Here's a pack of oak saplings on a picnic table at Boundary Brook. They are waiting to be planted in a mixed hedge on Sunday December 5th. You'll know that before our ancestors cleared the forests for farming, most of Britain was covered by trees. It follows that most of our native wildlife has evolved to live in or near woodland. Where there's a lack of natural woodland, hedges stand in as wildlife shelters, food-banks and nesting sites - and that's why it's worth planting them.  I took this photo near Ambleside in the Lake District, but I use it here because it shows the biggest burr I've ever seen. A burr or bur or burl (if you're American) is a deformity caused by some sort of stress imposed on a tree. They are highly valued by furniture-makers and wood-turners because the patterns and colours of the grain can be very beautiful. The swollen growth is composed of dormant buds which have not developed into side shoots. This burr is on a fallen sycamore branch. It's about 20 inches across and when I saw it in the rainy distance, it looked like a huge silvery brain - a very spooky sight! Below is a beech tree swallowing a brick wall. If this were your front garden, you might be banned from doing anything about it by a Tree Preservation Order. According to the City Council's website, there are about 300 T.P.O.s in force in Oxford among our city's 90,000 trees.

Some local place-names derive from trees. For example, Cowley and Botley were Cufa's Lea and Bota's Lea in Saxon times when 'lea' meant a clearing in woodland. Iffley is a bit different: in the year 941 it was Giftelei which means either 'the gift of a lea' or 'the lea of the plovers.' Only a time-traveller would know for sure.


How it ends. . .


ere's a felled tree rotting beside a footpath on Otmoor. The sheep in the field use it as a scratching-post and stormshelter. Just like driftwood gnarled by the sea, this kind of fallen giant can be honed and hollowed by nature into strange and expressive shapes. It's of value also to fungi, insects and small mammals who gradually reduce the hulk to fertile topsoil. This makes me think that trees support wildlife at every point of their life and beyond it. I took this picture last winter, so the puddles are frozen over.


inally, two optimistic notes. A recent report from the Forestry Commission states that tree-cover in the UK is increasing and is back to the level it was in 1750. To be precise, we have 11,200 square miles of woodland or 11.8% of our land area under trees. That compares to the Doomsday Book of 1086, when 15% of land area was woodland. One reason for this growth is the tax incentive for investors in forestry. The average tree-cover for countries in Europe is 44% with Finland the greenest at 72%, so we shouldn't yet rest on our laurels or hollies or hazels. Another reason to be cheerful is the 1956 Clean Air Act, which was brought in to improve human health but has also done much for trees in built-up areas. Air pollution blocks the stomata or 'pores' on the underside of a leaf with particles of soot, so carbon dioxide cannot easily flow in and oxygen cannot readily flow out - and it's on that exchange of gases that our life depends. What's good for trees is good for us, you can see, and vice versa.


s Christmas is near, here's a joke for your cracker: which trees are the fastest-growing? Bonsai trees - they grow the miniature plant them. Time to go, I think. . . John Gorrill



Seeds for sale.

any of you will have seen the beautifully packaged seeds which Pat Hartridge produces and which we have been selling at our events this year. There are some over so why not stock up for the spring. You can see the list on our website or if you haven’t got e-mail you could order them directly from Pat enclosing stamps or a cheque. The seed cards carry full cultivation notes. Wildflower seeds can be annoyingly perverse in the time they take to germinate. Poppies, in particular, may germinate over a period of years.

children never to eat any seeds or plants with which they are not familiar. The seed cards make attractive gifts popped into a birthday or Christmas card. If you are posting a seed card check which postage rate it falls into. Some of the larger seeds (Everlasting Pea for instance) may need the ‘Large Letter’ postage rate. The seeds cards cost 50p plus 50p p&p for up to 3 cards per envelope. Please send a cheque made out to Oxford Urban Wildlife Group or stamps to the required amount to: Pat Hartridge, 49 Old Road, Wheatley, OX33 1NX

Many of the seeds listed (and sometimes the resulting plants) are poisonous if eaten in quantities so it is probably safer to warn • Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) P 70cm May-June sun/partial shade • Corncockle (Agrostemma githago) A 1m June-Aug full sun • Cowslip (Primula veris) P 30cm Apr-May sunny site • Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) B 80cm JuneSept sun/poor soil • Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolia) P to 2m June-Aug needs support • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) B 40-90cm June-July sun/partial shade

• Greater Knapweed (Centauria scabiosa) P 80cm July-Sept slow germination • Hollyhock (Alcea rocea) P 1-2m Aug-Oct sunny site • Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene) A 40-60cm June-Aug sunny site • Marigold (Calendula) A 25cm all summer full sun • Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) P 70cm June-Aug sun/partial shade • Musk Mallow (White) (Malva moschata alba) P 30cm June-Aug sun/partial shade • Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) A 50cm May-Aug sunny site


• Purple Toadflax (Linaria purpurea) P 80cm June-Aug sunny site • Red Campion (Silene dioica) P 80cm May-Oct Shady site • Scabious (Knautia arvensis) P 80cm June-Oct sunny site

• Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis cambrica) P 50cm June-Aug sun/partial shade • Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) A 40cm May-Aug in grass/meadow




elow is our traditional programme of Brown Hairstreak winter egg counts – in fact they have now become so traditional that they have been elevated to the status of “Egg Transects”. Like a normal butterfly transect an egg transect allows us to assess the health of the target species. Please wear warm and waterproof clothing and footwear and bring a hot drink. It is also a good idea to check with the leader beforehand if the weather is looking

dubious. Also please note Marston Meadows is prone to flooding, we do not have any snorkels to issue! Some additional ad hoc searches will be arranged during January-March 2011 with a view to extending the known range including the proposed site for the NW Bicester EcoTown. These will generally be held on Friday mornings and be promulgated by email – so if you are interested in joining the “Retirees” please contact me, David Redhead on

Monday 3rd January 2011. Otmoor RSPB Reserve. Meet at 10.30 am in the Reserve car park (SP 570 127) at the bottom of Otmoor Lane leading north from Beckley. Anticipated finish time 1pm. Leader: David Redhead 01865 772520.

Saturday 5th Feb 2011 Bernwood Meadows, BBOWT Reserve. Meet at 10.00 am in Oakley Wood car park (SP 611 117) off the Horton-cum-Studley to Oakley road. Anticipated finish time 1 pm. Leader: David Redhead 01865 772520.

Friday 28th January 2011. Bullingdon Prison. Meet at 10.30am at the entrance to the Prison Works Dept (SP 625 173) by taking the entrance to the prison off the B4011 about half a mile north of Piddington Wood and parking in the car park alongside the Works Dept. (signed to right off entrance road). Anticipated finish time 1 pm. Leader: David Redhead 01865 772520.

Sunday 6th March 2011. Marston Meadows, Oxford. Meet at 10.30 am in Wolfson College car park (SP 514 083) at the eastern end of Linton Road. Anticipated finish time 1 pm. Leader: David Redhead 01865 772520.


Oxford City Farm


here are plans afoot to develop a city farm in East Oxford/Iffley. We aim to develop a working city farm to educate our community in state of the art eco-solutions, animal husbandry and food growing. We are hoping to secure a small plot of derelict land soon… Watch this space! For more information please e-mail

 Hill End Field Study Centre

Invertebrate Identification Workshops 2011 th


Sat. & Sun. 12 / 13 February – Introduction to Flies. Cost £60 Tutors: John & Barbara Ismay (Dipterists Forum) Please note this workshop will occur over 2 days. Bookings can only be taken for both of the dates. It is not possible for participants to attend on just one of the dates. Also earlier start and later finish than other workshops - 9am – 4.30pm. Fee covers both dates. Maximum of 12 participants.

Sunday 22nd May – Ground Beetles Cost £35.00 Tutor: Darren Mann (Oxford University Museum of Natural History) Sunday 19th June – Spiders Cost £35.00 Tutor: Lawrence Bee (Hill End Centre) Sunday 25 Sept. – Woodlice, Centipedes & Millipedes Cost £35.00 Tutor: Steve Gregory (Northmoor Trust)

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

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:


EVENTS FOR OTHER ORGANISATIONS (For contacts see next page unless otherwise listed) JANUARY Sunday 2: Scrub clearance with OCV at Holywell Cemetery, St Cross Rd, Oxford City Centre. Work party 9:45 - 4:30ish, no experience needed. See for details including free minibus pickups. (OCV) Wednesday 5: Wytham Woods. Peter Savill (former lecturer in Silviculture, Plant Sciences Dept) has recently edited a book, “Wytham Woods – Oxford’s Ecological Laboratory”. Peter will draw on information from the book regarding the history, development and woodland management of these unique University woods over the last 70 years or so. 7.30 pm in “The Coach House”, Quarry Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8NU. £3 or £10 for a year. (OTC) Sunday 9: Coppicing and Bird Box Construction at Deddington Parish, North Oxfordshire. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV) Sunday 9: Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset. An opportunity to explore the Harbour by boat and to view Avocets and other waders close-up from the island’s hides. Coach 7.45. Booking - Anne Clark 01865 723868 or David Rolfe on 01993 773123. (RSPB) Sunday 9: Winter Walk (Shotover Wildlife Field Day) enjoy seeing Shotover in winter. Meet Shotover car park. 10am-12.30pm (SW) Wednesday 12: Down Under - an Aussie Walkabout. Steve Lovell at Stratfield Brake Sports Ground Kidlington 7.45pm. (OOS) Thursday 13: Introducing the Insects. Darren Mann, Assistant Curator of Entomology at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, looks after the 5 million insects that make up the UK's second largest insect collection. He will give a behind-the-scenes guide to the museum's collections, with the help of some real examples - both dead and alive! 7.30pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free. (SOL) Thursday 13: Pharaohs Birds. John Wyatt will talk on birds of ancient Egypt based on archaeological evidence Sandhills Primary School, Terrett Ave, Headington, 7.45pm. Members free. Non-members welcome £3, Students £2. (RSPB) Sunday 16: Hedgelaying at the Lye Valley, East Oxford. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV) Sunday 16: Field Outing Letcombe Regis, Oxon “ Steve Alley. Contact Barry Hudson (secretary) 01993 852028 (OOS) Thursday 20: Tree Structure and Growth in Fragmented Semi-natural Woodland. Dr Terhi Riutta of the School of Geography and the Environment, Environmental Change Institute. 1.10-2pm. Department of Plant Science, South Parks Road, Oxford. £1.50 voluntary donation. No booking required. (RPG) Saturday 22 January to Sunday 13 March Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition £3.50pp/£11 Group/SO Live Friends Free.Open Mon - Sun, 10am-5pm Science Oxford Live is one of the first stops on its UK tour. Suitable for all ages. (SOL) Sunday 23: Reserve maintenance at Aston Rowant National Nature, Reserve, S. Oxfordshire. Details as for Jan 2nd. (OCV) Thursday 27: Biodiversity - So What? It has become increasingly clear that different species of plants and animals need to have a wide variety of genes to maintain a healthy environment. Taking examples from nature ranging from cheetahs to Charles II, Dr Samantha Decombel, plant geneticist and Director of Play DNA Ltd, will consider the implications of loss of genetic diversity and why it really does matter.7.30pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free. (SOL) Sunday 30: Scrub Clearance at Tackley, near Woodstock. Details as for Jan 2nd. (OCV)

FEBRUARY Wednesday 2: Oxford Arboricultural Prunings! Tim Shickle, Oxfordshire’s Arboricultural Manager, will explain some of the many challenges he has, looking after the County’s trees. 7.30 pm in “ The Coach House”, Quarry Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 8NU. Preceded by AGM at 7.00pm. £3 or £10 for a year. (OTC) Thursday 3: Bee Orchids Challenge Our Understanding of Species by Professor Richard Bateman, Research Fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. 1.10-2pm. Department of Plant Science. South Parks Road, Oxford. £1.50 voluntary donation. No booking required. (RPG) Thursday 3: Wildlife crime in Oxfordshire - an update. PC Simon Towers. Simon is a wildlife crime officer and last spoke to us on the topic in 2005 Sandhills Primary School, Terrett Ave, Headington, 7.45pm. Members free. Non-members £3, Students £2. (RSPB) Saturday 5: Oxford Mossing Group Contact Jacqueline Wright for location details - (SW) Saturday 5: Scrub clearance at the Trap Grounds, North Oxford. Details as for Jan 2nd. (OCV) Sunday 6: Tree planting at Cumnor Hurst Community Woodland, near Cumnor. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV) Wednesday 9: The Ridgeway. John Tyler at Stratfield Brake Sports Ground Kidlington 7.45 pm. (OOS) Thursday 10: Wildlife Crime - The Threat to our Environment Thames Valley Police Wildlife Crime Officer, PC Simon Towers, will discuss the problem of crime against wildlife. With the help of some real exhibits and case studies, Simon will explore the impact that wildlife crime has on our environment, and how we combat it both practically and with forensic science. 7.30pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free. (SOL) Sunday 13: Shotover Wildlife Field Day – Brasenose Wood coppice assessment, meet Brasenose Wood Allotments 9.30-1pm. (SW) Sunday 13: Scrub Clearance at Hutchcombe Copse, Botley. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV) Sunday 13: Field Outing Ewelm, Central Oxon Steve Alley. Contact Barry Hudson (secretary) 01993 852028 (OOS) Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16: Owls Galore! Come along to discover the fascinating world of owls. Owl expert, Rod Smallman, will be on hand to answer all of your questions, and will be bringing some of his own owls along with him. Don't miss this chance to get up close and personal with some real owls! Suitable for 5+ 11am or 2pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free (SOL) Thursday 17: Proud Horses and Jealous Dogs Do animals have emotions? The vast majority of pet owners are very confident that they do, yet scientists can often be sceptical. Dr Paul Morris, psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, will discuss his research into animal emotions and the science behind this complicated issue. 7.30pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free. (SOL) Thursday 17: Plants of the Draw-down Zone by Dr Camilla Lambrick (Rare Plants Group and Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire). 1.10-2pm. Department of Plant Science. South Parks Road, Oxford. £1.50 voluntary donation. No booking required. (RPG)


Sunday 20: Elmley Marsh, Essex. An important wintering ground for large numbers of water birds and several species of raptors. Coach 7:45. To book a place contact Anne Clark 01865 723868 or David Rolfe on 01993 773123. (RSPB) Sunday 20: Reserve Maintenance at Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, S. Oxfordshire. Details as Jan 2nd (OCV) Wednesday 23: Trees in the Community Join John Thompson as he introduces the work of the "Forest of Oxford". He will discuss the tree projects which the group are developing throughout the city, and the impact that trees have on our local wildlife and the beauty of our urban areas. 7.30pm. £5/SO Live Friends and OUWG Members Free. (SOL and OUWG) Thursday 24: What the Cat Brought In. In 2008, Becky Thomas from the University of Reading, came to tell us about a new project looking into whether domestic cats are contributing to the decline of wild bird populations. Two years later, the results are in, and Becky is back to update us on her findings. 7.30pm, £5/SO Live Friends Free Saturday 26: Recorders and Conservation Day at County Hall, Oxford. Details: Gavin Bird, Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre 01865 815411. Sunday 27: Coppicing at Brasenose Wood, East Oxford. Work party. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV)

MARCH Thursday 3: Wild Turkey by Martin Davies. A survey of the astonishing wildlife of birds, mammals, butterflies etc of Turkey. Martin is head of RSPB International Funding. Sandhills Primary School, Terrett Ave, Headington, 7.45pm. Members free. Non-members welcome £3, Students £2. (RSPB) Saturday 5: Rubbish Removal and Scrub Clearance at the Trap Grounds, North Oxford. Details as for Jan 2nd. (OCV) Sunday 6: Reserve Maintenance at Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, S. Oxfordshire. Details as for Jan 2nd (OCV) Wednesday 9: Breeding Woodland Birds. Ken Smith (ex RSPB). Stratfield Brake Sports Ground Kidlington 7.45 pm. (OOS) Sunday 13: Shotover Wildlife Field Day – The Shotover Atlas Project. Meet Shotover car park 9.30-afternoon. GPS of areas. (SW) Sunday 13: Field Outing Pagham Harbour, West Sussex. Steve Alley. Contact Barry Hudson (secretary) 01993 852028 (OOS) Sunday 13: Scrub Clearance & Transplanting Ancient Shrubs, Louie Memorial Fields, N. Hinksey. Details as Jan 2nd (OCV) Sunday 20: Coppicing with OCV at Boarstall Duck Decoy, Buckinghamshire. Details as for Jan 2nd. (OCV) Sunday 20: London Wetland Centre, WWT Reserve, Barnes This comparatively small reserve is packed with species usually only seen on large wetland reserves. To book a place contact 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: The final deadline is by the end of February.

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.


Contact numbers Kathy Chicken: Boundary Brook Nature Park Information and Alan Hart (Warden) Janet Keene: Newsletter Pat Hartridge: Membership Secretary Delia Twamley: Planning

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: Forest of Oxford: John Thompson Oxford 513528 Friends of CS Lewis Reserve (FoCSL) Helen d'Ayala Oxf 775476 Friends of Oxpens Meadow (FOM) Margaret Maden Oxf 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 Oxford 728153

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 Field Techniques for Surveying Vegetation. Mon 31 Jan to Mon 7 Mar 2011. Fees from £250.00 Field Techniques for Surveying Mammals and Reptiles Mon 21 Mar to Mon 25 Apr 2011. Tutor-led training course which is taught entirely online. Fees from £250.00 Applying Ecology 10 Tuesday meetings 10.30am-12.30pm. From 26 Apr to Tue 28 Jun 2011.Fees from £140.00 For more information contact the Administrator, Day & Weekend Schools, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. Tel 01865 - 270380 or by email: Website:



JANUARY WORK PARTIES at Boundary Brook Nature Park: Sunday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30: between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. If the gate is locked when you arrive ring Alan 07979 608 013 Sunday 9 January: Winter Walk through Christ Church Meadow. We will stroll through the Meadow, hoping to see some wildlife and, for those who would like to, we will end in the Botanic Garden. Distance, route and timing will depend on the weather. Meet outside Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s at 2pm. Sunday 16 January: Archaeology at Boundary Brook Nature Park: We plan to carry out the postponed geophysics (see p2) and we need two small groups - 5 in the morning 10.30am - 1pm and 5 in the afternoon 1.30pm - 4pm. If you would like to do this please register with Jane Harrison tel: 01865 724153. If the weather is doubtful please check with Jane on the day. Spectators are welcome for both sessions.

FEBRUARY FEBRUARY WORK PARTIES at Boundary Brook Nature Park: Sunday 6, 13, 20 27: between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. If the gate is locked when you arrive ring Alan 07979 608 013. Thursday 10: Combined business and Boundary Brook 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. Wednesday 23 February: Trees in the Community an illustrated talk by John Thompson who will talk about the way that the Forest of Oxford organisation enables people to develop tree projects throughout the city of Oxford. They help groups including schools, community groups, businesses and volunteer organizations to carry out tree planting. They have larger scale projects at places like Cutteslowe but are also attempting to introduce trees into the centre of Oxford in places like Broad Street and the Cornmarket to increase the beauty of the urban streets, making places for people to relax and to increase the wildlife potential of the City. He will also talk about some of the current threats to trees such as the diseases attacking the stately horse chestnut trees. 7.30pm at 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.

MARCH MARCH WORK PARTIES at Boundary Brook Nature Park: Sunday 6, 13, 20 27: between 10am and 1pm. Refreshments provided. If the gate is locked when you arrive ring Alan 07979 608 013. Thursday 17 March: The making of an Urban Nature Park - an illustrated talk by Janet Keene. Twenty years ago the City Council gave Oxford Urban Wildlife Group the lease to some derelict allotments in the heart of East Oxford. Find out how this group developed the site into a thriving nature park with a variety of peaceful habitats, each with a rich assortment of resident and visiting wildlife. 7.30pm at 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 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 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: Registered charity no 1101126 Printed on paper from sustainable forests.


Winter 2010  

OUWG newsletter

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