Naturalists' News and Sightings

News

Radley Lakes Trust

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The Trust held inaugural events on 25-26 September.

On Saturday 25 September there was a chance to meet the team, hear about progress, view displays and ask questions.  This was in the Silk Hall at Radley College. On Sunday 26 September there were two guided walks at the Lakes, suitable for all ages: one based on Thrupp Lake and one on Barton Fields.

updated: December 2021

Annual Hay Cut Barton Fields

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Last week the main meadow at Barton Fields was mown and stacked. The hay is removed to ensure the nutrient levels are kept low - although this year the Thames flowed through part of it  twice for several weeks and the vegetation was high. On Wednesday the meadow was cut by a tractor-powered giant rotary mower. On Thursday and Friday the cuttings were raked into piles for drying and some stacked by members of the Barton Fields Green Team, who were joined on Saturday morning by over 20 of the Abingdon Green Gym and three members of the 2nd Abingdon Scouts with two leaders to complete the staking and re-rake the whole meadow. The compost heaps slowly decompose and provide excellent sites for the Grass Snakes to lay eggs in the Spring, as evidenced by the number of this year's hatchlings relocated from last year's heaps to avoid being smothered by the new hay layers.

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from Graham Bateman: 1 September 2021

Development threats to Nyatt Field

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Nyatt Field which lies upstream of Abingdon Lock suffered trauma last autumn when the Community Woodland bordering the Thames was felled.  It is a floodplain meadow about 20 hectares in area and has many characteristic floodplain plants, though not the plant assemblages of meadows such as Long Mead at Eynsham and Pixey Mead NW of Oxford, mowed in early summer for centuries, which consequently have developed the species rich Meadow Foxtail / Great Burnet (MG4) plant assemblage.  Nyatt field is mowed in autumn which removes scrub and in spring Marsh Orchids and later Pyramidal Orchids (hundreds) are found there.  In summer tall herbs such as Meadow Rue, Hemp Agrimony, Yellow Loosestrife, Grass Vetchling, Tufted Vetch and many others are found in abundance.  The pictures show Yellow Loosestrife which at present dominates several acres of the site.  Unfortunately there is outline planning permission for this meadow to be dug for gravel!

from David Guyoncourt 29 July 2021

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

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