Highlights from the 2021 Oxfordshire LWS surveys

article written by Julie Kerans, Oxfordshire Biodiversity Officer

This year TVERC carried out surveys of 38 existing and proposed Local Wildlife Sites in Oxfordshire. These included a wide range of habitats such as ancient woodland, parkland, lowland calcareous grassland, lowland meadow and wetland habitats including lowland fen, tufa springs & floodplain grazing marsh. Thanks to the help of our volunteers, specialist species group and habitat surveys were completed on several sites for invertebrates, veteran trees and rare plants.

Wytham Park

This 77ha parkland is in a valley adjacent to Wytham Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It includes many veteran oak trees with features such as deadwood, hollowing of the trunk, rot holes, sap runs, loose bark, insect boring, dieback and loss of the crown. There are also several standing dead trees and some large fallen deadwood providing habitat for deadwood invertebrates and fungi.

Buckland Marsh

Buckland Marsh is a series of wet meadows adjacent to the River Thames. It has a network of ditches and includes areas of lowland meadow and lowland fen. The site is important for birds especially Curlew.

The meadows have a variety of grasses including Yorkshire fog, quaking grass, rough meadow-grass, red fescue, tall fescue, sweet vernal-grass, crested dog’s tail, meadow brome, tufted hair-grass and meadow foxtail. Sedges dominate some parts including lesser and greater pond sedge with other species including hairy sedge, glaucous sedge and brown sedge. Richer areas of grassland include abundant meadowsweet and meadow vetchling with ragged robin, oxeye daisy, black knapweed, lady’s bedstraw, common bird’s-foot trefoil, devil’s-bit scabious and pepper saxifrage.

Wetter parts include reed sweet-grass, marsh foxtail, hard rush, common spike-rush, tubular water-dropwort, marsh marigold and common marsh bedstraw. The uncommon round-fruited rush was also recorded.

Chalk grassland near Woodcote

This site lies on a south-facing slope of the southern Chilterns and is a particularly good example of chalk grassland, supporting many characteristic species. These include dwarf thistle, salad burnet, carline thistle, wild marjoram, mouse-ear hawkweed, wild thyme, eyebright, pyramidal orchid, squinancywort, common rockrose, pale toadflax, fairy flax, upright brome, quaking grass, downy oat-grass, common milkwort, field scabious, cowslip, common century and hairy violet.

Of particular note were dodder and dyer’s greenweed. Dodder is a parasitic annual plant which usually feeds off gorse and heather, but here is using dyer’s greenweed.  

Posted: December 7, 2021