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The 2021 Swift Report

  Sarah Couch Hywel Edwards and Sally Taylor seeking the swifts new nest sites. Photo Catriona Bass Sarah Couch looks back on Eynsham’s Swift Successes 2021   The Eynsham swifts are doing well - we counted 5 more active nests than last year, a total of 25, including one pair investigating a house martin nest from last year, which is highly unusual. Richard Mabey said that his swifts did not appear this year so perhaps we are bucking the trend. There are more nests in some roofs and the noisy groups of swifts seem to have noticed the boxes as they prospected for new nest sites. This year more nest boxes have been used, but by sparrows not swifts. Maybe swifts would be more likely to move in if they were in more sociable groups, so perhaps we could add more boxes …


Water Quality in Eynsham

From NRN's Own Water Quality Tester, Lucy Dickinson Water lilies, Thameside. Photo Catriona Bass   Concerns about water quality has certainly hit the news recently and has evoked a heated debate in Parliament. The Nature Recovery Network and many other local groups are continuing to monitor our rivers and ponds, and to lobby our local MPs and Thames Water about the sorry state of our local waterways. In addition to our monthly monitoring of 10 locations in Eynsham for nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen and pH, our neighbours in South Leigh are now using the Hanna equipment provided by the NRN to test the Limb Brook at different locations in their village (see their excellent Nature Notes page: https://southleigh.info/nature/limb-brook/index.php). Alongside the Eynsham testing for chemical pollutants, I have continued to help with the Oxford Rivers project which is doing bacteriological testing …


Sowing Time!

Eynsham's meadows are ready for their final sowing with wildflowers.   The botanical group has done its surveys... Kate Shaw, Linda Wisheart and Nicky Chambers indentifying plants. Photo: Catriona Bass   Don Reid, Sarah Couch and Dave Hemrich-Bennett, surveying Peace Oak meadow. Photo: Catriona Bass   Eynshamers have gathered seeds from Long Mead and sown them in pots...   Gathering wildflower seed on Long Mead by Eynshamers and Long Mead's Carefarming Group, supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism. Photo Fiona Ravenscroft   Dovehouse group's red campion, oxeye daisy, devils-bit scabious, seed collected from Long Mead and sown last autumn, now ready to plant out. Photo Judy Reid   Eynsham's scythers have cut and dried the hay (buy it for your hedgehogs at Eynsham's Great Big Green Week!)...   Alexander Roberts testing the bed-springs of Dovehouse hay for comfort. Photo …


Learning to restore our meadows

Workshoppers in Long Mead. Photo Catriona Bass   A Workshop with Charles Flower on Meadow Creation. Emily Terry from Pinkhill Farm reflects: On the 9th July, Charles Flower and his daughter, Sarah, held a workshop at Long Mead, providing insight into the restoration and establishment of wildflower meadows. The group of about 20 came from nearby surrounding areas, each with common endeavours to restore wildflowers areas. From Oxford College gardeners, to Eynsham villagers working with 20x20m patches of land, to the landscape scale of the Thames Valley Widlflower Meadow Restoration Project,  the diverse group shared their common passion. Talking together, we were able to learn about the techniques needed to achieve restorations goals, for example, knowing when to top the crop to ensure enough light reaches the seeds below the earlier flowering plants. We also felt a real sense of community cohesion, with everyone doing …


Public Examination of Salt Cross Garden Village Area Action Plan

  A Personal View by Nigel Pearce   Sorry about the long title. I’ll get on to that in a minute. First this: We have spent so long prising ourselves out of nature and looking down on the rest of creation from an assumed height that we now find it hard to work our way back into a structure of thought which fits the structure of nature . . . These words were written over twenty years ago in a book called Truth: A History and a Guide for the Perplexed, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. I attended, via West Oxfordshire District Council’s equivalent of Zoom, every day of the Public Examination, in late June and early July. It seemed to me that it would be good to test the Council’s Area Action Plan (AAP) for Salt Cross against the quotation above. …


Environment Bill 2021

Young blackthorns in blossom thicken a garden hedge, bringing pollen for insects in spring and fruit and more shelter for birds in autumn and winter. Photo, Nigel Pearce. Can the Environment Bill save our biodiversity – and us? A reflection by Nigel Pearce Over 30 years ago, in 1989, the Department of the Environment published an innovative series of booklets under the general title “Environment in Trust”. The introductory booklet opened with these words: The Government has the responsibility to protect the natural environment from any harmful effects of human activity. Everything we do as individuals – even such daily functions as eating, drinking and washing – has an effect on the natural environment. Nature is not inevitably damaged by our activities: in many respects it is very resilient. But we need to ensure that a sensible balance is struck …


Mammal Watch

All the mammals – and some birds too...   A couple of weeks ago, I was lent the trail camera by the Oxford Small Mammals group, in order to identify, once and for all, what has been eating my daily offering of hedgehog food. It’s easy to set up and takes a video or still photos when triggered by any movement.   Young Male Hedgehog dining al fresco - socially-distanced, of course. Photo. Beverly Chandler   Some four years ago, I realised that the only hedgehog I had seen in Eynsham was, sadly, flat as a pancake on the Witney Road. And then at coming-out-of-the-pub time on a balmy Saturday evening, I saw a live one, in sports mode, running down Acre End Street. If you have never seen a hedgehog running, trust me, they are surprisingly speedy and have …


Brush up your Survey Skills!

Our Lockdown Garden surveys gave a picture of the wildlife in Eynsham - now we can widen our practice.