The Nature Recovery Network has made surveying an integral first-step before committing to any intervention. St. Leonard's Churchyard and the Peace Oak are making an important contribution to Eynsham’s Nature Recovery Network by increasing the biodiversity of their sites and making them peaceful havens for wildlife. They are doing this e.g., by installing bird boxes, planting insect-friendly trees and flowers, and by sympathetic maintenance.
By happy coincidence, Neil Clennel, the CEO of the Wychwood Project, is by training an expert herpetologist and lives in the village. He has identified these two sites - St-Leonard's and Peace Oak - as excellent habitats for reptiles like slow worms, grass snakes, and lizards, who have a diet of invertebrates and need places to warm themselves. Thus we have begun a survey of reptiles in St Leonard's Churchyard and Peace Oak, with a view to extending our reptile surveys to other areas of the parish.
The UK has only six species of native reptiles and all of these are protected by Wildlife Laws, nonetheless all are still in decline because of destruction of their habitats.The slow worm, Anguis fragilis, a fascinating and harmless legless lizard, that is very long-lived. If we are really fortunate, we may also find grass snakes (Natrix natrix).
As you walk around St Leonard's and Peace Oak site, you may notice some pieces of roofing felt and corrugated tin placed in quieter areas; they are there to help us survey for these elegant, but secretive animals, and understand what populations we might have in the epicentres of our village.
Of course, there are many other sites in the village that may have slow worm-friendly habitats If you want to join in with your own survey of reptiles - in your garden or elsewhere, please get in touch.