Previous Seasonal Wildlife News 2013

Winter 2013 Wildlife Report

Bare of leaves, the trees inform us that winter has now arrived at Radley Lakes; their leafless forms add a stark beauty. The signature calls of the overwintering Tufted Duck, Pochard, Widgeon, Teal and Gadwall reveal their presence even if unseen. Dawns can be an inspiring, Turneresque scene. The sight of a flock of Fieldfare or Redwing or mix of both delight the eye and warm the spirit on a cold day. So do take a walk on the wild side to see what might be there. Even our resident swans, heron, moorhen, coot and great-crested grebes can be both an education and mesmerising beauty to watch. 

Fieldfare copyright Mark Chivers 2013

Fieldfare © Mark Chivers 2013


But there is always the chance that you are going to see something unusual, as we did on the morning of Ben Carpenter’s wonderful bird walk for the Earth Trust which I highly recommend you go on. 
As we were walking along the Sustrans Cyclway alongside Thrupp Lake three Little Egrets flew past and landed on the beach by St David’s Meadow. Such an amazing sight which everyone thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated, especially the children in our group. 
As I write this, a wren is searching for food on my much berried Cotoneaster bush on the front garden which is set in a mini wildflower meadow. The berries are eaten by Redwing and Fieldfare when it snows. It warms the heart to see them there, being able to source food in very cold conditions. The garden is doubtless sheltering a good deal of insect life amongst the grasses and in the ground, awaiting the warm spring weather when the violets and cowslips will gradually flower to be visited by the Hairy-footed flower bee – a favourite bee of mine. We can all turn an area of our unused lawns or plant pots into wildflower havens for pollinators as beautifully demonstrated by Monty Don on the Great British Garden Revival 
Meadow brown Butterfly on Knapweed copyright Jo Cartmell

Meadow brown butterfly on knapweed © Jo Cartmell 2013

Why don’t you consider starting a mini wildflower meadow on an unused area of lawn and let us know how yours is going. It will be 3-5 years before it begins to flourish by seed, unless you plug plant. St David’s Meadow and Barton Fields seed and plug plants were obtained from As they establish the wildflowers will set their own seeds.


Autumn 2013 Wildlife News

What to look out for

Redwing copyright Jo Cartmell 2013

Redwing © Jo Cartmell 2013

At dawn in the chilly, misty autumnal air, three Green Sandpipers walked along the edge of Orchard Lake’s far shoreline searching for insects, whilst a Muntjac deer grazed on the choicest willow branches nearby. Magical! Autumn has begun! I had already seen a Snipe a couple of days earlier and had noticed recent reports of flocks of Redwing flying over the Cotswolds, so they will soon make their way to Radley Lakes and brighten our leafless trees after the leaves have fallen during the autumn.

For now you can still see Common Carder bees feeding on the last flowers of autumn, until the frosts begin in earnest. The many herons on my walk suggest that it has been a successful breeding year! They will remain with us throughout the autumn and winter months. I am often amused by their ‘Cruuck’! call which sounds like a scolding for disturbing their patch as they fly away! Clearly, it has also been a very good year for nesting coots as there were many of them in groups on Thrupp Lake this morning! A Little Egret sighting was also reported recently close to the Thames.

What's happened recently?

Swans found dead at Orchard Lake

Swans at Orchard Lake (c) Jo Cartmell

Swans at Orchard Lake © Jo Cartmell

Sadly, the two swans who lived on Orchard Lake for years are no more. They were found dead by the reeds at the side of the lake early in September. There are a number of possible causes, one likely one is that the low level of water in the lake made them more vulnerable to predators.






Dragonflies and butterflies thrive in warm weather

Ruddy Darter (c) David Chivers              Ruddy Darter (c) David Chivers

The abundance of dragonflies throughout the summer has attracted the spectacularly acrobatic Hobbies which catch and eat them on the wing.

Butterfly numbers are also up. You will doubtless have noted lots of the Small and Large White butterflies in your gardens and in the Radley Lakes areas, as these have done especially well.

Large white on Knapweed (c) Jo Cartmel
      Large White on Knapweed © Jo Cartmell

Barton Fields Green Team have been doing weekly surveys of selected parts of the Radley Lakes area for the past three years. A total of twenty one species were seen this year. Whilst no particularly rare species were found, sightings were appreciably more than for 2012 and 2011 due to the warm summer. However large increases in some species  mask a decline in others like the Red Admiral and the Orange Tip.

Butterfly Conservation have reported the good news that the ‘Hot summer Helps Butterflies Bounce Back!’ due to their Big Butterfly Count results:

Latest Sightings

Egyptian Geese visit Thrupp Lake

A couple of renegade Egyptian geese arrived at Thrupp Lake and, although non-native escapees, were nonetheless beautiful to see. They were always rather speedy to escape from the shoreline into the lake at dawn and quickly make their way to the centre of the lake to get on an island. They were absolutely determined, it seems, that they were not going to be recaptured! They are rather a comical couple. Do look out for them when you visit, in case they are still there!

Egyptian Geese (C) Mark Chivers

Egyptian Geese (C) Mark Chivers















Large Increase in orchids found at Radley Lakes

Two members of Friends of Radley Lakes, David Guyoncourt and Jo Cartmell, have been doing an orchid count around the Radley Lakes area for each of the past two years. Eight different species were found both years. This year they counted a total of 2,796 orchids, last year the total was 1,253.

Jo Cartmell
Biodiversity Officer
Friends of Radley Lakes