Image courtesy of Simon Booker stokerpix.com
A group of enthusiastic South Stokers got together in February 2021 to form the South Stoke Wildlife & Conservation Group. The Group originally comprised Paul Jenkins, Ian Haslam, John Lindley and Ali Brazenor. The team now includes Nathalie Weekes, Tats Hawker and Mark Taylor.
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, 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 and 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.
Paul has had a life-long fascination with natural history and has been involved with bees since he was young. He has watched the decline in number and variety of wildflowers, insects and birds over the years and would like to help do something about it. South Stoke has some varied habitats and he believes that more could be done to improve conditions here for local wildlife. He would like to see people get together in a group to share knowledge and focus on wildlife in the area. Paul hopes that he and the rest of the community can learn more about the life around us, and find out what we can do to better support it.
Ian is concerned about the unfolding crisis in biodiversity decline and the impact of climate change on our planet and everyday lives. As well as making this a national and global debate he is keen to see initiatives at a local level and is encouraged by the actions of small groups to protect our existing species and habitats. He is not particularly knowledgeable about wildlife, but spends a lot of time outdoors and is keen to learn more about the animals, birds and plants that he fails to identify so often on his walks and forays around our area.
John is a keen amateur naturalist, specialising in Insects, particularly Butterflies, Moths and Dragonflies. He also tries, with varying success, to take photographs of the Insects that he sees. Having lived in South Stoke for well over 30 years, John has a reasonable knowledge of much of our local wildlife, but he's keen to learn more, particularly about our local birds and mammals. John is happy to share his knowledge of wildlife friendly gardening, and is always keen to meet up with anyone else who wants to learn about our local wildlife.
Ali's keen to learn more about the wildlife in and around South Stoke, and has been helping with mapping species recordings. She has a particular interest in what we can do to help the local hedgehog population and would like to learn more about how to make her garden more wildlife friendly. She joined the group to expand her knowlegde of local flora and fauna, and help conserve and enhance our local wildlife for all to enjoy.
Nathalie joined the group after taking part in the wildflower growing and mapping during lockdown. She has learnt a lot about local nature and conservation from other members in the group and enjoys helping out with SSWCG projects in the village.
Tats grew up in nearby Brightwell cum Sotwell spending much of her childhood cycling round the village visiting the farm, parks and streams. She was inspired by her botanist grandfather who used to take her into the woods on beetle catching trips to record and track species in the local habitats. Having had such an idyllic childhood, she is keen to preserve the natural habitats and wildlife around South Stoke for both current and future generations. Tats hopes that her enthusiasm for nature will be passed on to her own daughters and is keen to inspire other children in the local area to get involved. She is already enjoying learning more from the other conservation group members about the local dragonfly, butterfly and wildflower species.
The group relies on help from some very good people:
We are very fortunate that Simon Booker, the well-known Oxfordshire wildlife photographer, lives in the village. He knows more than most about the wild fauna around South Stoke, rising early and patiently waiting for those elusive appearances. His beautiful photography and his wildlife calendars are famous locally! We are very grateful to Simon for providing some of his wonderful photographs for this website. You can see, and purchase, a much wider variety of his wildlife and landscape images at Stokerpix.com
We have a huge debt of gratitude to Erik for designing our logo and somehow ending up building much of the website!
A graduate of Glasgow School of Art, Erik spent most of his working life as an Art Director in London advertising agencies, creating TV commercials, billboards and press ads, winning several international awards. In addition, he's always done freelance illustration, photography, caricatures and graphic design. Outside of work, he became involved in plays, musicals and pantomimes, and enjoyed creating set designs, projections and costumes, as well as acting, singing and dancing. He lives in Scotland now and is still involved with his old drama group in England, but these days is more focused on writing and performing my own shows. erikbeaton.com
A former member of the group. Naomi joined the group to become more knowledgable about the local environment and to learn from like minded others what can be done to ensure this unique area is there, at its best, for future generations to enjoy. Naomi coordinated the projects and events for younger members of our community and still joins us for events.
Robbie Still, Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, who provided us with invaluable advice about species recording and mapping, and provided records for the Parish.
Edel McGurk, Benson Nature Group, who provided timely advice and encouragement
Tom Harrison, expert Coleopterist who provided records of beetles and other insects in the parish
Chris Powles, Kirtlington Hedgehog Street Project
Martin Harvey, Biological Records Centre, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Tom August (aka "Batman"), UK Cenntre for Ecology & Hydrology
Roger Wyatt, local wildlife photographer
Bernard Novell, who provided advice on website specification and set up
Griff Phillips, who provided advice on website specification
Nick Pye, local copywriter and humourist, who came up with a list of creative names for the group, but despite that, we are SSWCG! https://nickpye.carbonmade.com/about
links to organisations of interest
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
SSWCG are members of:
We will work with other organisations that have similar aims:
Wild Oxfordshire https://www.wildoxfordshire.org.uk
Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment http://www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk/
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust https://www.bbowt.org.uk
The British Dragonfly Society https://british-dragonflies.org.uk
Bumblebee Conservation https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/
Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre http://www.tverc.org/cms/
Anne Carpmael Charitable Trust http://www.withymead.org/index.html
People’s Trust for endangered species https://ptes.org
Caring for Gods acre http://www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk/
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