Monday, 4 March 2019

2019 Rushy Common Birdwatch

On the 27th of January we opened up the doors of the Rushy Common bird hide once more to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch for the second year running.



We had an amazing 28 visitors this year who came and took part in the count. Some were regulars to the hide but many had never visited the site before and it was great to see all of the new faces.
During the hour we counted a total of 25 bird species and 194 individual birds. For comparison, in 2018 we counted 19 species and 167 individual birds.
We also spotted a Roe Deer, making the total species count 26!




The full results from Rushy Common are here:
Species 2018 Count 2019 Count Difference
Black-headed Gull   4 4
Black Swan   1 1
Blue tit 3 3 0
Buzzard   1 1
Canada goose 2 6 4
Carrion crow 2 1 -1
Chaffinch   1 1
Coal tit 1   -1
Coot 38 85 47
Cormorant 14 31 17
Dunnock 1   -1
Gadwall 4 8 4
Goldeneye 2   -2
Great crested grebe 4 4 0
Great tit 4 5 1
Herring Gull   1 1
Greylag goose 2   -2
Lesser black-backed gull 8   -8
Long-tailed tit 4   -4
Magpie 3 1 -2
Mallard  10 1 -9
Moorhen   1 1
Red-crested Pochard   5 5
Redwing   1 1
Roe Deer   1 1
Robin 2 2 0
Shoveler   19 19
Stock Dove   2 2
Teal   1 1
Tufted duck 13 5 -8
Wigeon 50 4 -46
Wren   1 1
Total 167 195  


Results have been submitted to the RSPB and they will publish a summary of the 2019 results here in due course: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Improvements to the Windrush Path at Standlake - Part 2

In December we shared some photographs of the surface improvements made to a section of the Windrush Path between Standlake and Newbridge. Today, the project was completed with the installation of two new interpretation panels at either end of the path.
One of the old panels, now out of date and beginning to fall apart!
The new panel in Standlake
The new panel at Newbridge

Thank you to our funders: Trust For Oxfordshire's Environment (TOE) with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund, West Oxfordshire District Council, Newland Angling Club, Standlake Parish Council and the Standlake Mosaic Trail fund.

Friday, 21 December 2018

2018 Highlights


2018 has been a busy year.. here are some of the highlights

Nature Conservation and Land Management
Annual maintenance at Standlake Common and Rushy Common Nature Reserves including reed clearance, coppicing, mowing, fence repairs and hedge cutting.
Two new Barn Owl nest boxes installed at Standlake Common, supported by Linear Fisheries and SSEN.
Fish and Amphibian eDNA survey carried out at Rushy Common.
 
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) Report
Analysis of WeBS data for the five years up to 2016 shows that numbers of wintering Gadwall and Shoveler in the Lower Windrush Valley exceed the agreed 1% threshold for a site of national importance.  Coot are approaching the 1% threshold.
 
Gadwall at Standlake Common


Yellow Fish Scheme
We worked with the Environment Agency to roll out the Yellow Fish Scheme in Witney. The scheme raises awareness of pollution pathways to our rivers and yellow fish stickers are placed by drains to remind people that anything put down these drains can impact local streams and rivers.
Between March and July:
  • 58 stickers attached to drains in Witney
  • 50 businesses visited and given information
  • School visit with Henry Box
Yellow Fish sticker with the message 'Only rain down the drain'

Access to the Countryside
Windrush Path Improvement Project
Thanks to funding from TOE, Grundon Waste Management, Newland Angling Club, Standlake Parish Council and the Standlake Mosaic Trail a section of footpath near Standlake was resurfaced in November improving access for those walking the Windrush Path or accessing the bird hides at Standlake Common.
An updated interpretation panel with be installed in the new year.
 

Community Engagement
Friends of the Lower Windrush Valley
The Friends group was launched in early 2018 and has gone from strength to strength with now over 20 regular volunteers.
Volunteers take part in a variety of activities to support the running of the Lower Windrush Valley Project and management of our reserves.
 
Over 500 hours volunteered
 
Friends of the Lower Windrush Valley activities in 2018
Events
  • Big Garden Birdwatch at Rushy Common
  • Guided walks and talks
  • Standlake Brownies visit to Tar Lakes
  • Ducklington Annual Parish Meeting
  • Wetland Wildlife Family Day
  • Gill Mill Quarry Tours x 3
  • Wychwood Forest Fair
  • Annual Forum
Quarry Tour at Gill Mill

Partnerships and communications
We welcomed corporate supporters Oxford Pharmagenesis in May 2018
We are updating and re-printing several of our leaflets that provide information on nature reserves, public access sites and footpaths.
We continue to use our blog, Facebook and mailing list to share news and opportunities

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Improvements to the Windrush Path at Standlake

We are delighted to share that we recently secured funding to make some improvements to the Windrush Path between Standlake to Newbridge.
The footpath provides a key link between the village of Standlake, the Thames Path and pubs at Newbridge. It’s also part of the Standlake Mosaic Trail which is popular with visitors, particularly young families.
The footpath in December 2017
Work was completed on the footpath this week and the resurfaced section will improve access for those walking the Windrush Path or visiting the bird hides at Standlake Common Nature Reserve. A new interpretation panel at the start of the footpath in Standlake will be installed in the new year.

The resurfaced footpath
Thank you to our funders: Trust For Oxfordshire's Environment (TOE) with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund, Newland Angling Club, Standlake Parish Council and the Standlake Mosaic Trail fund.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Report highlights the importance of the Lower Windrush Valley for wintering wildfowl


A recent Lower Windrush Valley Project report looks at data collected by volunteers as part of the BTO Wetland Bird Survey for the five years up to 2015/16. The report finds that numbers of wintering Gadwall and Shoveler exceed the agreed 1% threshold for national importance and Coot are approaching the 1% threshold. 


Gadwall at Standlake Common (Pit 60)

There are around 60 gravel pit lakes in the Lower Windrush Valley and of these only 24 are currently counted as part of the WeBS survey. We need more volunteers to take part in the survey to get a full picture of how wetland birds are using the lakes.

If you would like to take part in the Wetland Bird Survey in the Lower Windrush area, contact the Lower Windrush Valley Project on lwvp@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

If you are interested in training, BTO are running a course at Farmoor Reservoir in January: https://www.bto.org/news-events/events/2019-01/winter-bird-id-and-webs-2-day-non-residential-%E2%80%93-farmoor-reservoir-nr
Shoveler at Standlake Common (Pit 60)


To purchase a key for the bird hides visit the Lower Windrush Valley Project website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/lowerwindrushvalleyproject

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Lower Windrush Valley Project Forum





Lower Windrush Valley Project Forum
Thursday 15th November
7.00pm – 8.30pm
Northmoor Village Hall


Join us at our annual gathering for an update on the project’s activities and two guest speakers.


Angling is the designated afteruse for many of the gravel pits in the Lower Windrush Valley, with a number of commercial and club fisheries operating in the area. These organisations have a key role to play in both land management and recreation in the valley. Hear more from our guest speakers:
Chris Blunt, Linear Fisheries
Ian Collins, Farmoor Fly Fishing Club



Come along to find out more about the project and meet others who live, work and volunteer in the Lower Windrush Valley. Refreshments will be provided.



For more information contact 07557 082575 or lwvp@oxfordshire.gov.uk

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.