Naturalists' News and Sightings

News

Spring has sprung!

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What a weird spring it has been. In Barton Fields yesterday there was a Brown Argus butterfly sheltering in low vegetation from the cool conditions. However the wet weather has provided an unseasonable boost for fungi - in the woodland beside the Sustrans Track I found 5 species. Can anyone identify the inkcap in the photos?

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from David Guyoncourt 27 May 2021

Radley Lakes Masterplan

Proposals for a New Future for Radley Lakes

A masterplan launched on 10 May proposes a new future for Radley Lakes, a 136 ha area of former gravel quarries. The plan sets out a vision for the Lakes, focussed on protecting wildlife and providing valuable green space for local people. Major funding for implementing the plan will come from ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’  receipts held by Radley Parish Council. The plan is being launched by the newly-formed Radley Lakes Trust.

 Find out more...

from David Guyoncourt: 10 May 2021

Cowslips and Apple Blossom

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The Cowslips on Barton Fields are looking particularly good and well spread out this year, no doubt revitalised by a good dose of rain. The Crab Apple is now in full flower. And Warblers are calling throughout the site - good to have them back.

from Graham Bateman: 30 April 2021

We have a flower

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New meadow - 1000 corms planted, 100 plus emerged, 3 in flower today. Possibly did not like the Thames flowing through twice this winter.

from Graham Bateman: 05 April 2021

From swimming pool to ice rink

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I have just done 'David's' feeders - lots of tits. The flowing floods have retreated from the new wet meadow which is now covered in ice. Graham

from Graham Bateman:12 February 2021

Adaptable Buntings

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For over a week, the ground below the Barton Fields bird feeders had remained under a considerable depth of flowing water - waders needed to reach them. The Reed Buntings, which normally partly feed on the ground picking up spilled seed, were walking out on thin reeds suspended on the water surface and picking up seeds as they floated by.

from Graham Bateman:10 February 2021

Recognition for Judy Webb

Judy Webb a local natural historian and conservationist was included in the New Year's Honours List. She has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) ‘For services to Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats in Oxfordshire’.

Judy's contribution was also recognised on the BBC Woman's Hour Power List 2020 and was interviewed recently on BBC Radio 4.

The Abingdon Naturalists' Society congratulate Judy on this well deserved recognition of her great work.

1 January 2021

Very wet Wet Meadow

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Barton Fields now has the Thames flowing through it with ponds and new wet meadow under a good 18 inches of moving water. Maybe get some fish again in the ponds next year. Unfortunately I put my field camera out by pond 4 on Xmas Eve and at 11.55pm on Christmas Day it disappeared under water. Retrieved Boxing Day afternoon after I got some waders and SD card still worked, but the camera was full of water - fingers crossed it will dry out.  And this morning a pair of Swans were by the bird feeders I set up on Xmas Eve.

Graham Bateman: 26 December 2020

Orchids around the A34 Hinksey Interchange

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Abingdon Naturalists' Society member Michael Bloom has produced a report for the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxford on the results of his surveys of Pyramidal Orchids on the roadside verges at Hinksey Hill Interchange in Oxford between 2012 and 2020. Michael presents a thorough and detailed report on the orchid displays around the Hinksey Hill Interchange which have given pleasure to bus passengers travelling to and from Oxford and to passing motorists, as well as being of conservation importance. The Report (© ANHSO) is available on the ANHSO website by following links to-
special-interest-groups > fritillary > fritillary-9

November 2020

Revived Ponds on Barton Fields

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On Monday morning, two of the Barton Fields ponds, which had become completely overgrown with mainly vigorous Reed Sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), were rejuvenated. We were 'loaned' a digger and driver by Fergal Construction Co Ltd, of Standlake, who have been working on the resurfacing of the Sustrans path running through Barton Fields. Ashley, the digger driver, was a delight to watch as he skilfully removed the top vegetation for stacking, then the roots and bottom mud that were delicately smoothed around the pond edges to allow any 'creatures' to return to water.

We now have two 'new' ponds that would have been lost as manually they could never have been dug out. Thanks deserved to Fergal and Ashley

from Graham Bateman: 21 October 2020

Sightings

Purple Emperor Butterfly

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Jo took this photo while out for a walk adjacent to the sustrans track, to the southern end of Thrupp Lake. The butterfly was spotted at around 10.30am on Sunday morning.

from Mike and Jo Turner: 20 July 2021

Scalloped Oak Moth

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We were having coffee in our garden and a Scalloped Oak Moth fluttered in.

from Mike and Jo Turner: 17 July 2021

Blueberry bandit

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Here is a short video of our chief Blueberry Bandit, our cheekiest Blackbird that we call Roger, taking a bath under the very bush from which he's been thieving. I have subsequently netted it, but he had that figured out in minutes. I'm going to need a better net, or get up before he does.

from Tam Richmond: 10 July 2021

River Ock Swan Family

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The River Ock swans have produced another brood - seven cygnets this year. They are not big enough yet to upend, but seem to be able to forage from the water surface.

According to: Swanlife-

‘when the cygnet hatches, not all of the yolk inside the egg would have been used up as a food source. So, when it emerges from the egg, it adsorbs the remains of the yolk into its body. This acts as a significant source of nutrients for the young over the next week to ten days’

from David Guyoncourt 21 May 2021

Determined young starling

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A determined young starling in Tam Richmond's garden in Didcot on 15 May. Tam writes: ‘I thought he was trapped, but he got straight out with a mouthful of food, nommed it, and then did it again.’ I asked what “nommed” means. He replied: ‘Nommed, as in nomnomnom! The sound you make when you wolf something down.’

from Tony and Lyn Richmond: 20 May 2021

Baby robin fledged 19 May

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One of two from their nest on our garage wall in central Abingdon. .

from Tony and Lyn Richmond: 20 May 2021

Blue tits about to fledge!

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After about 3 weeks and a terrific feeding effort by the parents, our blue tit chicks are about to fledge. We saw them peering out of the hole yesterday for the first time and being fed in the entrance by the parents.

from Michael Turner: 19 May 2021

Large Red Damselfly

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This Large Red Damselfly was emerging from its carapace this afternoon - 9 days later than last year. I hope it can cope with these low temperatures.

from David Guyoncourt: 7 May 2021

Vulpine visitor at dawn

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The trail camera I set up to check how many hedgehogs visited the garden overnight, at dawn picked up this pristine Red Fox. Our house is on the Peachcroft Estate and surrounded by 5-foot high fences, which the fox must have climbed.

from Graham Batemen: 5 May 2021

Few-flowered Garlic

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I first saw a patch of these flowers beside the Thames Path east of Abingdon at the weekend. None of my wild flower books were much help in identification but the internet came up with Few-flowerd Garlic (Alium Paradoxum). Alium Paradoxum is native to the Caucasus region and was introduced to gardens in Scotland about 100 years ago, escaping to the wild towards the end of the century.

Naturalists and foodies have very different opinions of Alium Paradoxum. To naturalists it as an undesirable non-native, invasive species which can dominate native flora, and of which planting in the wild is now banned. For foodies it a culinary delight which looks very much like Spring Onions when pulled up and bunched. I wonder whether its appearance on the river bank resulted from a narrow-boat owner overhauling a roof-top ‘garden’.

from Adrian Allsop: 3 May 2021

Dawn Chorus

The first Sunday in May is International Dawn Chorus Day, when people around the world rise early to hear birds welcoming a new day. I opened a window in a spare bedroom at 4:30 and enjoyed 45 minutes of birdsong with only a low background of A34 traffic noise. Here's a 5-min snippet from around 5am. I hoped to include a sunrise view but the day's visual awakening was disappointing.

Listen here...

from Adrian Allsop: 2 May 2021

Ashy Mining Bee

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This mining bee (Andrena cineraria) was searching for a nest site on our 'lawn' today. Not the Mourning Bee as I first thought, which would have been more appropriate on the day of HRH's funeral!
This bee has appeared in mid-April in two previous years.

from David Guyoncourt: 17 April 2021