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