Archive news 2016



Good habitat for overwintering

Good habitat for overwintering © Jo Cartmell

Even now, although wildlife habitats are seemingly lifeless, insects such as solitary bee larva are inside dry, sometimes frosted, hollow stems; or caterpillars and insects are beneath clump forming, dew-laden grasses, overwintering alongside small mammals such as field voles and shrews, awaiting the warmth of spring. It is one of the many reasons that I urge you to keep to well worn pathways on wildlife sites and farmland. Not least for wrens who huddle beneath the tangled weave of vegetation for warmth on a frosty or damp morning.




Dog rose hips

Dog rose hips © Jo Cartmell

Dog Roses which supply nectar and pollen for bees in the summer, are food for overwintering birds when they transform into Rose Hips. Nature's very own Christmas decorations! The hips are eaten by fruit eating birds such as Thrushes, Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbirds and Waxwing. The seeds are dispersed in their droppings. Some birds, especially finches, like to eat the seeds.
Did you know that flea treatment used on dogs and cats affects not only bees, but also your pet and you? Highly respected Professor Dave Goulson advises that it only takes 5 neonicotinoid coated seeds to kill a grey partridge! He advises in his blog Splash: “Neonicotinoids are very widely used neurotoxins, applied extensively to many arable, horticultural and ornamental crops, and also found in veterinary products such as flea treatments for dogs and cats. They have high persistence so last for years in soil. They are water soluble and are now routinely found in streams and ponds around the world. They are also found in the pollen and nectar of wildflowers growing near treated crops  as well as in the pollen and nectar of the crop itself.”
 I cannot stress highly enough that the only form of gardening that protects wildlife and your family is organic gardening. If you have used a flea treatment on your cat or dog and they urinate on any wildlife site, whether on the grassland, in a stream, or even in your own garden, it is increasing the amount of neonicotinoids that are already in the environment and further harming vital pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. It is also harming small mammals and birds. Hence the vital reason for keeping to pathways when you are out with your much loved pets. A great Christmas present for wildlife. A person born after 1960 now has a 1 in 2 risk of getting cancer. It was in the 1960's that the rise of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides began and we have been consuming them ever since, unless we have chosen to eat organic food.

October 2016

Wildlife News

Autumn has arrived and has begun to gently weave her tapestry of colour around the lakes wetlands once more. I love to walk around Nyatt's Field to admire the multitude of wildflowers which offer vital nectar and pollen to our bees, butterflies and other pollinators at the end of August/early September when most local meadows have been cut. Notably, there was an abundance of the soft pink, small clustered flowers of Hemp Agrimony visited by bumblebees and hoverflies; the attractive golden yellow Common Fleabane which is fond of wetland meadows and which was visited by hoverflies, leafcutter bees and butterflies and would grace any garden; Michaelmas Daisy another pollinator favourite; Marsh Woundwort, some Meadow Sweet with its sweet scent perfuming the air and some Red Bartsia still in flower. This field's organic rich nectar source is far more important than gravel extraction for Oxfordshire, because without pollinators next year there will be no food on our tables.


Nyatt’s Field in summer c Jo Cartmell

Nyatt's Field in summer © Jo Cartmell

During a walk in light rain, I was delighted by the sight of a two little egrets perched and preening on trees on a recent walk. It is heart-gladdening that this important wetland refuge is still there for the many wildlife that inhabit or feed on her waters or shores throughout the year, such as bats and swifts in the warmer months and wildfowl that arrive to feast there overwinter. Whether dabbling or diving duck, there is food for both. Otters with cubs will also seek out lakes when the Thames is spate. Otter cubs can be born at any time of year and are not able to swim. So like human children they have to learn to swim and could easily drown when the Thames flow becomes too fast for them to cope. I am hoping that this year will be a lucky year for a sighting of one in Thrupp or Orchard Lake. They are very elusive!

It is great to see trees laden with hawthorn berries ready to welcome winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfare. I am looking forward to seeing my first of 2016. If it snows this year, we may even get a sighting of colourful waxwings descending on berries in our gardens. They are particularly fond of rowan and hawthorn, but also cotoneaster and rose. If you provide these berries by planting some shrubs, they may well visit! They are slightly smaller than a starling and are birds with attitude! With their beautiful colours and crest, I am sure they know they look stunning!

Bees on Hemp AgrimonySubject © Jo Cartmell

If you should see any wildlife do let us know on our Facebook or Twitter sites.

Jo Cartmell
Bio-diversity Officer






July 2016

Summer is upon us! Here are some orchids tha thave been seen recently at the Lakes.















April 2016

Wildlife News

Spring is in the air and I have already seen Long-tailed tits collecting moss to make their impressive 'bottle nests' which have a roof and an entrance hole near the top.  These complicated nests are made of moss woven together with spiders webs and camouflaged with lichen. Due to the use of spiders webs, the nest expands as the young grow inside it. They tend to nest at head height in shrubs like hawthorn or bramble. Such brilliant engineering by these amazing little birds which you won't be able to see once bramble and hedgerows are in leaf around the lakes! Just in case you are wondering what the nest looks like here is some footage of one being constructed


Long-tailed Tit chick peeping out of the nest c

Long tailed tit peeping out of nest ©












Long tailed tit nest © Jo Cartmell












Recently, an elegant Little Egret flew from the stream in Audlett Drive which reminded me that I have seen up to three roosting at last light on one of Thrupp Lake's islands at dusk. If you should be walking around the lake during the evening, you may just see them! I have also had my first fleeting glimpses of water voles in the Abbey Fishponds, but fluctuating water-levels due to heavy rainfall has slowed their burrow preparation for the breeding season and I am hoping that none drowned when their burrows were flooded.


water vole (c) Jo Cartmell

Water vole © Jo Cartmell











It has been a delight to see Queen Buff-tailed and