Friday, 5 October 2018

A bird's eye view of Standlake Common

After a dry summer, water levels at Standlake Common are the lowest they have been in many years. It's the perfect time to take some aerial photographs and get a better look at the islands.

The East shore and Langley's Lane bird hide.
Water levels are around 25cm lower than they were during Summer and Autumn 2016 and 2017. As we can see in the photographs, the lower water levels expose more islands and gravel shoreline.
While water levels are low we can walk across to several of the islands, making it easier to carry out vegetation removal - an added bonus!


Standlake Common Nature Reserve facing West towards Shifford. You can see the River Thames meandering along the South of the reserve.








Monday, 25 June 2018

Exploring Gill Mill Quarry


Saturday saw some fantastic weather and a good turnout for our quarry tour at Gill Mill, organised by LWVP, Oxfordshire Geology Trust and Smiths Bletchington.



The quarry was opened in 1989 and lies within the Lower Windrush Valley, covering an area of 184 hectares.
Our visit started with an introduction at the quarry office, after which we headed to the main extraction area to the North of the site.

 
Gravel face inside the current working area
 
Bill talks about the geology of the area and how the gravels were formed


We then visited the processing plant where the material dug during extraction is washed and sorted in to different sizes. The plant at Gill Mill produces up to 400,000 tonnes of product a year.

The view from the top of the processing plant

After extraction takes place, each phase of the workings is restored in line with the scheme agreed as part of the planning permission. A large proportion of the area currently being dug will be restored to reedbed and wet woodland for nature conservation but there will also be open water for recreation and around 11km of new footpaths and bridleways.
The next section of the tour took us to two of the restored sites, Rushy Common Nature Reserve and Tar Lakes.

 
Lucy talks to the group about the restoration and management of Tar Lakes
 
The bird hide at Rushy Common


Finally, we rounded off our visit with a trip to the recycling plant and a team photo.



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Yellow Fish spotted in Witney


Yellow Fish spotted in Witney!
Don’t worry, these aren’t real fish, but stickers used to raise awareness about water pollution.


We’re working with the Environment Agency on a campaign in Witney which involves putting stickers featuring yellow fish and the message ‘Only Rain Down the Drain’ next to surface water drains that go straight to local streams and rivers.
The aim is to remind people that what they put down the drain has an effect on the local river system and wildlife.
We’ve already been out around the Station Lane area, attaching stickers and speaking with local business and residents to raise awareness about water pollution.

The ‘Yellow fish’ initiative was developed by the Environment Agency and is being implemented by local groups with an interest in the environment across the country.
For further information: http://oilcare.org.uk/avoid-pollution/yellow-fish/




Tuesday, 13 February 2018

New homes for Barn Owls


Yesterday we installed two brand new Barn Owl nest boxes at Standlake Common Nature Reserve. These boxes will replace two that were installed over 10 years ago and were beginning to show their age.



One of the old nest boxes
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks engineers installing one of the new boxes... the weather was kind to us!
The new box is in place!
The boxes at the reserve have been used frequently over the years with 12 owlets recorded by a local Barn Owl group.



A record clutch of 10 eggs in 2014
Two young Barn Owls

This work was kindly supported by Linear Fisheries who funded the new boxes and Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks whose engineers carried out the installation.













Monday, 29 January 2018

Rushy Common Birdwatch

On the 28th of January, we opened up the hide at Rushy Common to participate in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch by counting the total number of each bird species we saw in 1 hour.  
 


During our hour long count we spotted 19 different species and 167 individual birds.



Of our 18 birdwatchers, it was great to see a mix of regular visitors and those who had never visited the reserve before.  



Here are the full results:
 
Species
Number
Blue tit
3
Canada goose
2
Carrion crow
2
Coal tit
1
Coot
38
Cormorant
14
Dunnock
1
Gadwall
4
Goldeneye
2
Great crested grebe
4
Great tit
4
Greylag goose
2
Lesser black-backed gull
8
Long-tailed tit
4
Magpie
3
Mallard
10
Robin
2
Tufted duck
13
Wigeon
50

 


Friday, 5 January 2018

RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch at Rushy Common


Come and join us as we throw open the doors of the hide at Rushy Common nature reserve to participate in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch. For one hour we’ll count the total number of each species we see. The data will help identify not only the species using the site but will help establish trends and determine just how the birds and wildlife are doing.

You’ll also be able to learn more about the Lower Windrush Valley Project and the new ‘Friends’ group. New and inexperienced birders especially welcome. Be part of the world’s largest wildlife survey and help count the wildlife that’s counting on us!

Date: Sunday 28th January 2018
Time: 12-1pm
Location: Rushy Common Nature Reserve Bird Hide, Tar Road, South of Witney

More Information:
https://www.facebook.com/events/176548216278202/
https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Clean Water for Wildlife - 2017 Survey in the LWV

For a second year, the Lower Windrush Valley water bodies have been surveyed for nutrients – nitrate and phosphate - as part of the Clean Water for Wildlife Survey. Volunteers visited gravel pit lakes, various sites along the River Windrush, and small waters, like ponds, ditches and streams, which are abundant in the area. Once again the results show how important the Lower Windrush Valley gravel pit lakes and ponds are for freshwater wildlife – providing a clean water refuge in a landscape where nutrient pollution is widespread. The data also shows that the River Windrush has high levels of nutrients, despite the effort of the many organisations dedicated to improving our water habitats, and so we must continue to work at the catchment scale to clean up the River Windrush and its tributary streams.  
 
Of the 82 sites tested in 2017, 66% showed no evidence of nutrient pollution and the majority of that clean water was found in lakes and ponds.
 
For more information about the survey, results and photographs, please see the short case study on our website here: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/environmentandplanning/countryside/naturalenvironment/CWWcasestudy2017.pdf