2020 Survey highlights from the Oxfordshire Local Wildlife Sites

article written by Julie Kerans, Oxfordshire Biodiversity Officer

Despite a late start, this year we carried out surveys of 26 existing and proposed Local Wildlife Sites in Oxfordshire, along with several possible extensions. This added 4900 species records to the database.

Particularly interesting sites visited over the summer include Farmoor Reservoir LWS, Radley Gravel Pits LWS and a site near Hook Norton

We spent two days at Farmoor Reservoir LWS which is one of Oxfordshire’s largest Local Wildlife Sites covering 190 ha. As well as the huge reservoir which attracts good numbers of wildfowl, it includes diverse wetland and meadow areas. Species seen included a range of wetland plants with tufted vetch, common reed, bulrush, greater and lesser pond-sedge, common club-rush, marsh woundwort, meadowsweet, great burnet, water mint, purple loosestrife, skullcap, lesser spearwort, common spike-rush and brookweed.

Another treat was recording marsh helleborine at Radley Gravel Pits LWS. This site is a series of former gravel workings and surrounding areas of grassland and woodland in the floodplain of the River Thames. Some of the pits have been in-filled whilst others have been retained as water bodies. It includes species-rich grassland to the west at Barton Fields with pyramidal orchids, wild carrot, lady’s bedstraw, meadow crane’s-bill, common bird’s-foot-trefoil, oxeye daisy, wild marjoram, cowslip, yellow rattle, betony and small amounts of field scabious and common restharrow.

Another highlight was locating the lousewort previously recorded at site near Hook Norton in species-rich grassland on the steeper valley banks formed by the upper reaches of the River Swere. The grassland here was especially rich with both calcareous and acidic influences. It includes devil’s-bit scabious, betony, salad burnet, tormentil, meadow vetchling, lady’s bedstraw, dropwort, black knapweed and harebell. 

Posted: November 17, 2020