My Calendar

Events in July 2024

  • Dominic Woodfield - Gavray Meadows Local Wildlife Site

    Category: ANHSO Talk Dominic Woodfield - Gavray Meadows Local Wildlife Site


    Tue, Jul 2nd 2024

    Gavray Meadows present themselves as an interesting study in the effects of neglect and the challenges of future recovery of species-rich mesotrophic grasslands. In the 1990s, the site's ridge and furrow fields contained fine examples of MG4 meadow with great burnet, pepper saxifrage and sneezewort and MG5 unimproved species-rich pasture, replete with betony, devil's bit scabious and spring sedge, as well as field ponds and ancient species-rich hedgerows with midland hawthorn, buckthorn, elm and other woody species. The site was then bisected by the A421 making the land prime real estate for developers. Neglect has seen large parts of the site scrub up, with others parts damaged by the Chiltern Evergreen rail project. However, the site now has a more hopeful future than at any point for perhaps 35 years as Dominic will explain on the visit. We can expect to see an array of unimproved and semi-improved grassland species, diverse hedgerows and accompanying wildlife including a diversity of birds, a very diverse butterfly assemblage (we will be in the flight period of the site's black hairstreaks), other insects and, as we near the end of the walk, bats.
    Gavray Meadows is to the north of Gavray Drive, Bicester (SP597220) (take the roundabout off of the A4421). There are three lay-bys/bell mouths along Gavray Drive that can accommodate four cars each. We will meet at 7pm at the middle bay. It is also accessable by foot from Bicester town centre.

    Dominic Woodfield is the director of the independent ecological consultancy Bioscan. He specialises in terrestrial ecosystems with particular strengths in ornithology, botany and protected species, and is regularly called upon as an expert witness in planning inquiries. He has been at the forefront of the campaign to save Gavray Meadows since stumbling across the site in 1998, a 25 year battle which has taken him to the High Court, Court of Appeal and two planning inquiries. He is now working with the site owners, prospective developers and the local community to secure, once and for all, the site's future as a nature reserve.

    Free to ANHSO members

  • Geoff Jones - A visit to one family's creation of a range of flower-rich meadows from farmland

    Category: ANHSO Field Geoff Jones - A visit to one family's creation of a range of flower-rich meadows from farmland


    Sun, Jul 7th 2024

    The family work on meadows started in the 1980s with a small parcel of agricultural marginal land. This area includes the only and very small example of wet meadow. For many years this was managed by hand or garden-style machinery but later this area of meadow was extended into drier soils but is still managed by hand though recently with the help of smallholder machinery. Geoff started this as a genuinely garden-scale project, so is well aware and empathetic of the issues at this scale including meadow creation without livestock grazing. This early parcel of meadow is also the source of arisings that are used to create a peat-like compost that is used in the garden.

    In 2020 several more parcels of land came into meadow management and these were all arable reversion plots and much of this is within an HLS agreement. Haymaking in these areas is under contract. Other small areas of once-managed farmland, now 'garden' have also been part of meadow management but have been variously successful.
    The ground has quite a lot of Jurassic clay (Lower Lias) underlying the soil, sometimes quite close to the surface and the soil pH ranges from slightly acid to neutral.

    In this visit you can see the impact of simple management regimes that promote flower-rich meadows without the use of livestock. You will see that sometimes they do and sometimes they don't create meadows that are hoped for or expected.
    Poplars Farm has a range of classic 17th c. farm buildings and farmhouse in local stone and has been described as a fine example for the period. Building work may be taking place in one area of garden on two barns being converted to a house.
    Total walking distance is around 1 mile on grassy garden paths and field margin walkers' paths to include the most distant parcel of meadow. If it has been raining, the grass can be slippery.