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Endangered Hinksey Meadow

Why are we failing to save our critically endangered floodplain wildflower meadows?       If Oxford’s wildflower meadows were an animal there would be a stream of tourists from all over the world coming to see the last of their kind in the wild. As rare as the Rollright Stones and more beautiful even than Stonehenge, there are only four square miles of their habitat left in the UK. Imagine an area the size of Heathrow Airport broken into small pieces and scattered across the country. Hinksey Meadow is one of the last to go and it is now threatened by Oxford’s Flood Alleviation Scheme.   Rare great burnet flowers in Hinksey Mead, June 2021. Recent research has shown that the individual plants of great burnet can live to 150 years. Their roots extend over two metres deep making …


Nature Recovery Network Newsletter 08-Feb-2022

Nature Recovery Network A Network of People working for Nature Recovery     Bulletin, February 2022 Wild Arts kicked off with Mud and Clay, alias 'Signs and Wonders' in which Bob Cowley introduced the Workshoppers to the esoteric art of identifying animal tracks, followed by Alison Holmans, who showed us the wonders of Earth, Wind and Fire. Read Alice Walker's fly-on-the-wall account of the event. If you would like to join the second Wild Arts Workshop on 'Winter Trees', on the 12th February, sign up here. It seems that NRN Workshops are de riguer these days: The EPA Schools Nature Recovery Workshop also launched their first event. Theirs is a highly innovative initiative that links the 8 schools in the Eynsham Partnership Academy (EPA) in a seriers of 4 Workshops sponsored by Natural England to create a network of nature …


Mud & Clay

NRN Wild Arts Mud & Clay workshop   Mud & Clay. A Colllage by Catriona Bass and Alice Walker   Alice Walker writes: On Sunday 23rd January a group gathered at Long Mead Barn, Eynsham to learn how to spot the tracks and signs of wildlife all around us. Local wildlife tracker and mammal expert Bob Cowley soon had us distinguishing between dog and fox prints, squirrels, rabbits, cats, badgers and more. We discovered ‘rules of finger’ to help us sort our muntjac deer from our red, roe and fallow deer prints. Moving outside we found these imprints scattered all around in the fresh mud and earth including most thrilling of all beside the wharf stream-otter prints! Alongside these traces were other signs - otter spraint  -stuffed full of fish scales and tiny teeth, and kestrel pellets -droplet shaped parcels …


A Visit to Cassington Sewage Treatment Works

  One of the NRNs major survey projects has been the monthly testing of the water quality of various selected sites around Eynsham and now also at South Leigh. We undertook this because unpolluted waterways are a vital necessity if we are to achieve nature recovery in and around our watercourses.  At the forefront of this project is the vexed issue of the pollution of the Thames and its tributaries, one of which being the Limb Brook, which runs beween South Leigh and Eynsham. Sewage from Eynsham and surrounding villages is processed at the Cassington Sewage Treatment Works (STW), which is operated by Thames Water. Cassington STW is one of the many sewage treatment works that repeatedly release raw sewage directly into the Thames and its tributaries. A small group of Concerned Parties were offered a guided tour of the Works, …


A Hedge in Time

Blackthorn in bloom in Mead Lane. Photo Catriona Bass   Help us create wildlife corridors through our Thames Valley villages and landscape The inspiration and leader of A Hedge in Time is Robert Crocker, who farms at Freeland and who hit the headlines five years ago with his idea of creating a continuous hedge, a wildlife-corridor between his farm in Oxfordshire and his brother’s farm in Cornwall. At the time, he described it as ‘deliberately bonkers and provocative - to get people’s attention’. Well, it did. And it has lingered in the imagination of those of us who live in the villages below his farm on both sides of the Thames. At the Nature Recovery Network’s (NRN) Spring Gathering someone, remembering Robert’s idea, said we should realise the virtual connections between our communities by restoring and recreating the hedges between them. We …


The 2021 Swift Report

  Sarah Couch Hywel Edwards and Sally Taylor seeking the swifts new nest sites. Photo Catriona Bass Sarah Couch looks back on Eynsham’s Swift Successes 2021   The Eynsham swifts are doing well - we counted 5 more active nests than last year, a total of 25, including one pair investigating a house martin nest from last year, which is highly unusual. Richard Mabey said that his swifts did not appear this year so perhaps we are bucking the trend. There are more nests in some roofs and the noisy groups of swifts seem to have noticed the boxes as they prospected for new nest sites. This year more nest boxes have been used, but by sparrows not swifts. Maybe swifts would be more likely to move in if they were in more sociable groups, so perhaps we could add more boxes …


Water Quality in Eynsham

From NRN's Own Water Quality Tester, Lucy Dickinson Water lilies, Thameside. Photo Catriona Bass   Concerns about water quality has certainly hit the news recently and has evoked a heated debate in Parliament. The Nature Recovery Network and many other local groups are continuing to monitor our rivers and ponds, and to lobby our local MPs and Thames Water about the sorry state of our local waterways. In addition to our monthly monitoring of 10 locations in Eynsham for nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen and pH, our neighbours in South Leigh are now using the Hanna equipment provided by the NRN to test the Limb Brook at different locations in their village (see their excellent Nature Notes page: https://southleigh.info/nature/limb-brook/index.php). Alongside the Eynsham testing for chemical pollutants, I have continued to help with the Oxford Rivers project which is doing bacteriological testing …


Sowing Time!

Eynsham's meadows are ready for their final sowing with wildflowers.   The botanical group has done its surveys... Kate Shaw, Linda Wisheart and Nicky Chambers indentifying plants. Photo: Catriona Bass   Don Reid, Sarah Couch and Dave Hemrich-Bennett, surveying Peace Oak meadow. Photo: Catriona Bass   Eynshamers have gathered seeds from Long Mead and sown them in pots...   Gathering wildflower seed on Long Mead by Eynshamers and Long Mead's Carefarming Group, supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism. Photo Fiona Ravenscroft   Dovehouse group's red campion, oxeye daisy, devils-bit scabious, seed collected from Long Mead and sown last autumn, now ready to plant out. Photo Judy Reid   Eynsham's scythers have cut and dried the hay (buy it for your hedgehogs at Eynsham's Great Big Green Week!)...   Alexander Roberts testing the bed-springs of Dovehouse hay for comfort. Photo …


Learning to restore our meadows

Workshoppers in Long Mead. Photo Catriona Bass   A Workshop with Charles Flower on Meadow Creation. Emily Terry from Pinkhill Farm reflects: On the 9th July, Charles Flower and his daughter, Sarah, held a workshop at Long Mead, providing insight into the restoration and establishment of wildflower meadows. The group of about 20 came from nearby surrounding areas, each with common endeavours to restore wildflowers areas. From Oxford College gardeners, to Eynsham villagers working with 20x20m patches of land, to the landscape scale of the Thames Valley Widlflower Meadow Restoration Project,  the diverse group shared their common passion. Talking together, we were able to learn about the techniques needed to achieve restorations goals, for example, knowing when to top the crop to ensure enough light reaches the seeds below the earlier flowering plants. We also felt a real sense of community cohesion, with everyone doing …