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


























 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Lower Windrush Valley Project Annual Forum

We had a good turn out for our annual forum event, which took place at Stanton Harcourt Village Hall on 27th November.

We kicked things off with an update on the Lower Windrush Valley Project activities during the last year, including work carried out at Rushy Common and Standlake Common Nature Reserves, the results of the Clean Water for Wildlife survey carried out in May (more on this soon) and a new walks and leisure leaflet, created with the support of Witney Town Council and local businesses.

Lucy updates on the LWVP


The presentation also covered some of the project activities coming up – keep your eyes peeled for further updates on access improvements, the Yellow Fish Scheme and a ‘Friends of the Lower Windrush Valley’ group.

Following the project update we had two fantastic presentations. The first, from John Melling on Birds of the Lower Windrush Valley, looked at trends in numbers of wintering wildfowl as well as highlighting a few of the valley’s more unusual visitors from recent years.

John talks about the Birds of the Lower Windrush Valley
Finally, we heard from Julia Lofthouse of BBOWT who spoke about Water Voles, their habitats and distribution, reasons for their decline and the importance of controlling American Mink populations.

 
Julia tells us about Water Voles and the populations on the Windrush

A stuffed Water Vole

Friday, 22 September 2017

Standlake Common Meadow – May to August

Early May

There is approximately 6 hectares of grassland at Standlake Common Nature Reserve, the majority of which is along the Southern shore of the lake.

Early June
The meadow supports a diverse range of invertebrates and birds throughout Spring and Summer.

Late June
The site is at it’s most colourful with an array of wild flowers.

Late July
The area is managed as a hay meadow with a hay cut taken in late July/August and grazing by sheep in Autumn. The hay is baled and taken off site after cutting to remove nutrients. If left on site, less desirable grass species and weeds would begin to dominate.

Late August (After Hay Cut)