Goldfinch
Goldfinch

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Postman's Path
Postman's Path

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Pouncing Fox
Pouncing Fox

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Goldfinch
Goldfinch

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Images courtesy of Simon Booker stokerpix.com

about

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A group of enthusiastic South Stoke naturalists have got together to form the South Stoke Wildlife & Conservation Group. We are Paul Jenkins, Ian Haslam, John Lindley and Ali Brazenor, with some expert helpers from around the village. We’d like to welcome people of all ages to get involved in learning more about the wildlife in the parish of South Stoke, and find ways of helping it thrive.

Our aim is to confirm what wildlife there is in the area, record it, map it, and then help protect, enhance and conserve it. We also hope to improve the management of some areas, to maintain and enhance biodiversity, and create new habitats for wildlife where possible.

It’s an opportunity for everybody in the parish to be part of - with lots of fun and learning along the way!

Wildlife as diverse as otters, water voles, turtle doves, Soprano Pipistrelle bats, the wonderfully named Cetti’s Warbler and Azure Hawker dragonflies have all been spotted and recorded locally.

 

We’re proud of our wonderful parish and its natural environment and want it to be protected and improved!

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Most importantly, whenever you're out and about in the countryside, please be aware of and respect the five main points of the Countryside Code:

  • Be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs

  • Leave gates and property as you find them. ...

  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home. ...

  • Keep dogs under close control. ...

  • Consider other people

news

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COMMUNITY WILDFLOWER PROJECT UPDATE:

To find out more, please click the links below:

Wildflower site preparation on Sunday 26th September at 3pm 

Wildflower planting session on Saturday 2nd October at 10am

Sign up here or email contact@southstokewildlife.org

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And our September 'top species' is the: HOUSE SPARROW. Please, please let us know if you spot any by completing and submitting our 'Species Sighting Form' or enter the data on iRecord. Want to find out more? For 'key facts' including the differences between male and female, have a look at this RSPB website page

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RARE BEE SPECIES FOUND IN SOUTH STOKE:

If you attended the SSWCG ‘Wild Bee’ talk given by Roselle Chapman, you'll likely remember that she set the group a challenge to find a rare Yellow Loosestrife Bee…and John Lindley has only gone and done it! The ID has been confirmed by an expert and updated onto the national iRecord database.  It’s a huge coup for all wildlife enthusiasts in the Parish and, in Roselle’s words ‘just goes to show what you find when you look’. You can read more about the Yellow Loosestrife bee in the next edition of the e-Newsletter (click here to sign up).

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Trees should be planted without plastic guards, says UK study

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Issue number three (July) of the SSWCG e-Newsletter is now available to read in the archive

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The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is looking for nature loving volunteers to help wildflowers to blossom along miles of public highway. Read more and find out how to volunteer here

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BUMBLEBEES - our August 'top species'. Please let us know where you spot them by completing and submitting our 'Species Sighting Form' or enter the data on iRecord. Do you know how to tell the difference between a Queen Bee and a male? Have a look at the 'Top Tips' page for the answer as well as links to interesting and fun sites.  

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Chilterns AONB have announced that the @chilternsociety and Chilterns Conservation Board's project: "Chalk Streams & Wetland Meadows: guarding the irreplaceable for people and nature" has been awarded a grant from the government's £40M Green Recovery Challenge Fund.  Read more here 

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How about a foraging and cooking course in Oxfordshire? Justine Gens does just that; teaching how to identify, harvest and embrace wild plants with a sustainable approach. Justine will be writing all about her ethos and work in the next issue of our e-Newsletter but, in the meantime, have a look at the website.  We have it on great authority that the courses are well worth attending! https://www.ma-roemca.com/

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Berkshire Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) have published their 'top ten' species to spot in July.  How many have you seen?  BBOWT top 10

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STAG BEETLES - our July 'top species'. The stag beetle is Britain's largest insect and one of the most well-known of all the beetles. The male is easily recognised because of his mouthparts which have evolved into enormous jaws, resembling the antlers on a stag's head. Read more stag beetle facts on the People's Trust For Endagered Species site. And, most importantly, please either use iRecord to update the national database or our Sightings Form to report any sightings and we'll update iRecord on your behalf

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SWALLLOWS - our June 'top species'. Swallows are small birds with dark, glossy-blue backs, red throats, pale underparts and long tail streamers. They are extremely agile in flight and dance around the sky. Numbers in the UK have fluctuated over the last 30 years with pronounced regional variation in trends.  If you see any, please report them and we'll add them to our species map and also update the national iRecord datatabase.

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'National Hedgerow Week' 29th May-6th June. Read all about why hedgerows need our help

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Have you signed up for 'No Mow May'? Find out more and sign up for this Plantlife initiative here  There's also a great article in Gardens Illustrated

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Are you ready for 30 Days Wild? It's not too late. Sign up now

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HEDGEHOG PROJECT update! Historical sightings map and survey update results here  Plus...we're testing out a trail camera. It takes 20 second videos in night-time mode and will be available for villagers to borrow. Here's some recent footage captured on 9th and 10th May 2021

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March 2nd, 2021.  Watch the inspirational hedgerow project film from Watlington Climate Action Group 

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February 26th, 2021. 'Ecological Emergency' declared by South Oxfordshire District Council. 

For a pdf of SODC's Corporate Plan 2020-2024 including the sections 'Protect & Restore our Natural World' and 'Action on the Climate Emergency', please click here

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February 16th, 2021.  Great news! Our Wildlife and Conservation Group has been awarded a grant of £1000 from South Oxfordshire District Council, arranged for us by our local district councillor, Maggie Filipova-Rivers, through her 'Councillor Community Grant'. She is keen to support new environmental initiatives in the area and the timely launch of our conservation group seems to fit the bill perfectly. The money is planned to be used on equipment needed for our upcoming species surveys, including a couple of trail cameras, planting and possibly laying some hedges and covering expenditure in setting up and maintaining the website. We'd like to thank Maggie, and Bryan Urbick who facilitated the application, and look forward to using the money to further the aims of the group.

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worth a read

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The insect apocalypse: insects have declined by 75% in the past 50 years – and the consequences may soon be catastrophic. Biologist Dave Goulson reveals the vital services they perform. Read the Guardian article here

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Jays and grey squirrels get planting! Half the trees in two new woods were planted by jays scientists find. Read more here

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Or worth a listen... Did you see Chris Packham telling Springwatch viewers that blue tit chicks eat 35 million caterpillars a year and then correcting himself to say 35 BILLION? And which figure is correct? Amazingly, and as explored by Radio 4's 'More or Less', the actual figure is 35 billion! You can listen here (wind forward to 8 mins 10 seconds) 

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One step closer to 100 year goal for Withymead Nature Reserve as 240 native trees and shrubs are planted: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/19336467.south-oxfordshire-nature-reserve-withymead-plants-200-trees/

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End mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitat, says UK study

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The Government will ban sales of peat products by the end of this Parliament, subject to public consultation 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/sales-of-peat-compost-to-gardeners-to-be-banned-from-2024

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Councils across England are transforming roadside verges to support wildflowers as pressure grows to reverse declines in wildlife, as reported by Plantlife 

top tips

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Click here for some great ideas on what you can do to protect and enjoy the flora and fauna around you. 

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Do you get confused telling the difference between swallows, swifts, and house/sand martins? Lots of us do, but have a look at the Wildlife Trusts simple guide and you'll soon be an expert!

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Sunflower

Planting gorgeous sunflowers is one of the easiest ways to provide food for birds in your garden, and they’re excellent fun to grow. Find out more here

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Why not build a swift box? Here's an easy to follow RSPB guide (although you'll need to set aside a couple of hours!) 

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How to make a splash in your outdoor space. A simple bird bath or a mini pond. Water adds tranquility and endless entertainment for wild visitors. Find out how you can add water and attract wildlife

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Common Frog

Common Frog image courtesy of Roger Wyatt

Why not build a BEE HOTEL for your garden? Head to the Top Tips page for a simple guide on how to do it...

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Planting guide for an insect friendly garden: the more diverse the flowers and plants you have in your garden, the more pollinators you will attract. Use this Wildlife Trusts handy monthly calendar guide to attract insects to your garden 

Ladybug
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Beetle

Beetle Mania. Do you know what the most famous beetle in the UK is and that there are over 4,000 beetle species scuttling all around us? Click here for the answers and to discover 17 of the most colourful British beetles. More beetle mania links on our Top Tips page

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Blooming May.         Spring has sprung and WILDFLOWERS are appearing. Plantlife have published brilliant 'Spotting Sheets' to help you identify wildflowers month by month. Have fun and please join our wildflower survey!

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Hedgehogs have been hibernating over winter and are starting to become active again. How active?  Did you know that a hedgehog can swim and run up to 2km per night in search of food? Please keep an eye out and use our Species Sighting Form to let us know if you see one! 

Drawing of Hedgehog
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WILD GARLIC - responsible foraging and yummy recipes

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THE TOP FIVE SIGNS OF SPRING - find out which bird uses cobwebs to make their nests, and which gets their gladrags on for the breeding season. 

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WHICH BIRDSONG IS THAT? The RSPB's guide to identifying some of the most common contributors to the spring dawn chorus

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WHAT'S THAT BIRD OF PREY?

Handy and fun guide to identifying agile hunters of the sky. 

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THE PERFECT PAD FOR BLUETITS & ROBINSThere's lots of house hunting going on in your garden right now with many birds on the lookout for a place to nest. 

events of interest

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SEPTEMBER:

 

Organic September is a month-long campaign designed to encourage more people to try organic as a way to promote and educate people about organic food & farming practices.

World Car Free Day, 22nd September. World Car Free Day encourages motorists to give up their cars for a day

 

Seed Gathering Season from 23rd September. “Our annual Seed Gathering Season inspires everyone to join us to gather seeds, fruits and nuts which can be nurture to grow the trees of the future. Now in its 21st year, The Tree Council welcomes all our volunteer Tree Wardens, member organisations, local communities and families to get involved during the month-long celebrations. The campaign runs from September 23, which is the autumn equinox and considered to be the first day of autumn. It finishes on October 23.”

Recycle Week from 23rd September. Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling, organised by WRAP under the Recycle Now brand. The aim of the week is to encourage the public to recycle more of the right things, more often from all around the home.

FSC Friday 25th September 2020. The Forest Stewardship Council will be hosting FSC Friday‚ an annual event designed to raise awareness about responsible forest management- the best way to keep using forest products and keep our forests too. FSC are aiming to increase awareness of FSC so that more people choose FSC certified products more of the time.

OCTOBER:

International Walk to School Month.  Encourage people to get out of cars and reduce air pollution by walking to school during the month of October. “Children who walk to school are more engaged with their streets and aware of the impact of cars than those who don’t, suggests new research released for the launch of International Walk to School Month.”

World Vegetarian Day 1st October.  World Vegetarian Day is a good time to explore meat free meals. For some ditching dairy is a step too far and so veganism doesn’t appeal.

World Animal Day 4th October. The mission of World Animal Day is “To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It’s celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.”

No Disposable Cup Day 4th October. Every single day in the UK we use 7 million disposable cups, many of which are not disposed of responsibly. The aim of No Disposable Cup Day is “1. We STOP using disposable cups for one day on 4 October, and 2. We STOP using disposable cups completely."

National Clean Air Day 8th October. Air pollution harms the health of millions. But there are lots of simple things that we can do to improve air quality and look after our own and other people’s health. Clean Air Day is a chance to find out more about pollution, share information with friends and colleagues, and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.”

 

National Tree Week, 27th November

https://treecouncil.org.uk/take-action/seasonal-campaigns/national-tree-week/

e-newsletter

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We will be producing e-newsletters on a bi-monthly basis. If you’d like to receive them, please sign up.

 

Previous e-Newsletter issues can be found in the archive at the foot of the sign up form.