We are now in the fourth year of the aftercare period for the pulverised fuel ash (PFA) filled areas – Greater Homes field (Area Je/P), Little Homes Field (Area G) and Thrupp Green (Area H/I). I am happy to report that Earth Trust has been awarded the contract for the fourth year, following on from the brilliant habitat work all the volunteers have carried out over the last three years.
At the start of October we have been on site taking a late haycut from the meadow in Greater Homes Field, and cutting the meadow in Little Homes Field and the rides and glades in Thrupp Green. We have also cut and turned over an area of Little Homes Field, revealing some of the bare ash which is of particular importance for a number of invertebrate species, including nationally rare and nationally scarce species, such as the bees Nomada fucata, Lasioglossum pauxillum, the wasps Dolichovespula media, a solitary wasp Alysson (Didineis) lunicornis and the tumbling flower beetle Mordellistena pseudoparvula.
Mower in Greater Homes Field cutting the grasses on 05/10/18
Cutting the meadow in Little Homes Field on the 05/10/18
The main aim of the restoration of Greater & Little Homes Field and Thrupp green (Areas G, H/I and Je/P) is to ensure that the restored areas at Radley Lakes provide a diverse range of habitats for a variety of species associated with the woodland, wetlands and water bodies in the area as well as the specialist species associated with the PFA substrate.
The fourth year of aftercare will see us continue our work with the Thursday volunteers supporting priority habitats and species that was started in autumn 2015. This summer we have been able to focus on the meadow areas of Greater and Little Homes Fields. This has involved a lot of volunteer hours (and biscuits!) pulling ragwort and thistles from the meadow before they went to seed. This Autumn and Winter we will be concentrating on maintaining the rides and glades in Thrupp Green and maintaining the areas we cleared of willow in Little Homes Field and Thrupp Green in the first year and second years as open ground by cutting back the willow re-growth. In these areas the willow scrub was in danger of replacing what was a lovely open feeding area for waders into a dense wet scrubby area prefect for predators. By cutting the willow we have opened the area out again for wading birds and it worked incredibly well this year as we had at least three pairs of lapwings nesting!
Earth Trust’s continuing works at Radley Lakes
In May 2018 the TOE2 funded biodiversity project was nominated for the Oxford Preservation Trust’s Nature Conservation award, and it was awarded a letter of commendation.
During 2018 the Thursday Volunteers have:
- Checked and refreshed the bird boxes around the lake before spring and the breeding season
- Woven a willow screen to replace the burnt down bird hide
- Put out woodchip along the circular walk in the muddiest areas
- A spring scythe and rake of St David’s meadow
- Launched the Tern rafts in April (in two new locations under the advice of local Ornithologist)
Most recently the Thursday Group volunteers have been:
- An end of summer scythe and raked St David’s meadow
- Scythed back the encroaching vegetation along the circular walk
- Brought in the two Tern rafts for the winter (Terns are only visitors from April to August/September and if Cormorants colonise the rafts the Terns will not use them the following year)
- Cleared the cut bank along a section of the circular walk of vegetation for overwintering invertebrates
27/09/18 Thursday Group – Matthew Savage and Nigel Gregory with Lucy Tomkinson Bring the Tern rafts in for the winter
27/09/18 All the Thursday volunteers with the Tern rafts on the trailer – left to right – David Rivers, Robert Duerdoth, Chris Greenough, Stephen Daniels, Caroline Gregory, Matthew Savage, Margaret Haddock, Nigel Gregory, and Brian Evans kneeling on the ground.
Coming up we will be working with contractors over the winter to carry out some rotational coppicing on some of the islands in the Lake.
Earth Trust’s continuing works at Radley Lakes
If you are walking around Thrupp Lake on a Thursday you might see Earth Trust’s Thursday Volunteer Group hard at work. They have been busy constructing and installing bat boxes, bird boxes and an otter holt and will soon be putting tern rafts on the lake, so look out for them. Community Wildlife Warden, Lucy Tomkinson of Earth Trust has very kindly sent us a report and photographs to explain the work they have been doing."
Read Lucy's report by following the link /userfiles/file/FriendsRadleyLakesReportApril2017.pdf
In 2017 we completed a two year biodiversity project, funded by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment 2 (TOE2). The aim of this project was to allow Thrupp Lake to support as much biodiversity as possible, not least some priority species, and for all wildlife to thrive on the reserve. The work carried out through this project concentrated on creating ideal nesting habitats for a range of sensitive UK BAP listed species including two Amber listed bird species: the Common Tern and Sand Martin, as well as Otter and Noctule Bat. The work from the project was carried out by the Earth trust warden and the Thursday group volunteers, their work included:
- Building an otter holt, using a recycled plastic kit, on Kingfisher Island
- Installing two floating tern rafts to encourage more terns to nest on the Lake
- Installing an artificial sand martin bank nesting site on Otter Island, to encourage local sand martins to breed on Thrupp Lake.
- Building and installing 13 bat boxes in the wooded area to the north of the lake where bats are known to forage.
- Building and installing 12 bird boxes to provide additional nesting sites .
- Planting plug plants in an existing small meadow to increase the diversity of botanical and invertebrate species within this area
- Purchasing equipment for access and management of nature reserve (boat and associated equipment)
- Purchasing tools & other equipment for volunteer groups to be able to operate into the future including scythes and sharpening stones.