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events & surveys

Images courtesy of Simon Booker stokerpix.com

events & surveys 2022

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We've planned a variety of events and surveys in 2022, some of which are a continuation of those we kicked off during our first year and others are exciting new ones! You can see our outline 2022 plan below; we'll fill in missing dates as soon as we're able but in the meantime, please sign up/register your interest by filling in the 'Sign Me Up Form' and we'll be in touch as soon as we're able to firm up the details.

 

With respect to wildflower surveys, all volunteers are warmly welcome; please either let us know you're coming via the Facebook page or simply turn up.  Details can be found here.

1.  Events

 

SSWCG Quiz Night

Back by popular demand - Thursday 20th October.

SSWCG sunflower growing competition

Judging will take place in September.

Nature trail through private gardens, 29th August as part of the Stoke Open Gardens event

Led by our resident wildflower, dragonfly, butterfly and invertebrate experts we’ll explore a few secret wildlife havens. Lots of commentary, anecdotes and photo opportunities promise to make this a memorable session. We might even spot a Yellow Loosestrife Bee!

Jubilee tree:

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people across the UK to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”. The South Stoke Wildlife & Conservation Group proudly planted a “Jubilee tree” on the Recreation Ground.  A photograph will be uploaded to the QGC map for everyone to see! 

Simon Booker, wildlife photographer: 'Giving a Voice to the Animals of Oxfordshire':

Simon Booker gave a talk on wildlife photography on Tuesday 26th April and it was a phenomenal successTargeted at anyone interested in local wildlife with stories, fieldcraft and photography ethics (definitely not two hours of techno-babble!), it went down so well there's going to be a follow up! Watch this space!

May fair:

Monday 2nd May from noon. Please visit our May Fair stall to catch up on what we’ve done to date and our exciting plans for 2022.  We’ll have bee and bug houses and instructions on how to build them plus fun and interactive things to do for the whole family. It promises to be wild! PS We'll also be selling our own mix of wildflower seeds; sowing instructions here🦔

Visit to Brightwell cum Sotwell Community Orchard

On Saturday 14th May we are privileged to have the opportunity to be shown around the amazing community project by Paul Chilton, the renowned local apple expert. The project includes a new brook, wildflowers and orchard of apples and pears. We will probably have lunch in the Red Lion afterwards. Places are limited so please sign up early! 

Curry and quiz night

Thursday 26th May, 7.30 at the Perch & Pike. Tickets £15 each including food (please make special dietary requirements known at time of booking) to be purchased in advance from the pub. Tables of 6 available or on a 'meet your neighbours mix n match' basis.  No expert knowledge required, just a taste for curry and a fun night out!

Dawn chorus walk 

We’re planning to repeat one of the most popular events of 2021 on Saturday 11th June at 0545. Led by Simon Booker and his birding colleague, we’ll meet at the slipway and will spend a couple of hours exploring the riverbank listening to and seeking out the plethora of birdlife. The session promises lots of photo opportunities (and tips!) and fascinating commentary. 

2.  Surveys

Wildflower project

We are going to continue the successful surveys of last year, in which we spotted 158 different wildflower species! We will be visiting interesting sites around the village by kind permission of some generous landowners. This year’s programme of surveys is on Thursday evenings, 18.00-20.00 and usually in the Pike & Perch afterwards! Please sign up on Facebook or simply come and join us on all, or any of, the following dates: April 21st, 12th May; 2nd June; 23rd June;14th July; 4th August.  Volunteers always welcome and no skills needed! 

 

Invertebrates:

Following the successful event in December, when a number of children from the village built a "Bug Hotel" on the rec, we plan to hold another for children to spot minibeasts in the Hotel and on the neighbouring wildflower patch. A couple of group members also plan to conduct a more "scientific" survey of the wildflower area, and (depending upon what we find), we hope to put on an event in summer, probably focusing on the different Bumble Bee and Solitary Bee species that we have locally.

 

Bats

We are lucky to live in a village where it's easy to see bats at dusk on suitable evenings in the warmer months of the year. We THINK that we have at least two species (Pipistrelle and Long Eared), but we don't know for sure, and we suspect that we might have several others (at least six species have been identified just over the river in Cholsey). 

 

We now have a Bat Detector, which will enable us to conduct proper surveys of the village and surrounding footpaths, with the aim of identifying and recording as many local species as possible. Once we have figured out how to use the detector (we need to test it in Spring, when the first bats are flying), we will organise some detecting sessions over the warmer months, probably meeting at the pub before heading out along planned routes. We'll publish more details, including dates and routes, in due course.

Glow-worms: Saturday 23rd July 9pm, meet outside Perch & Pike

On a balmy summer evening last year, we conducted our first village glow-worm survey, which gave us a good idea of where they can be seen in the village, and how common they are. We aim to repeat the survey later this year covering the same areas, at the same time of year, so that we can start to build up a picture of population trends (are numbers increasing or declining? Are they colonising new areas or vanishing from sites where they were found before?).

Dragonflies: Sunday 5th June

Our first "Dragonfly walk" of 2022 is planned for Sunday 6th June.  Last year the cold Spring weather meant that the event was delayed, but when we were finally able to get out, we had a well attended event and we spotted 9 different species. We hope to add a couple of extra species this year, including the Common Clubtail (a misleading name - it's actually a nationally rare species, but one that is found along our stretch of the river).

Hedgerow survey

We are midway through our grand plan to conduct surveys of all the accessible hedgerows in the Parish, which we think total about 15km, with the objective of completing the remainder by the summer. About 20 people showed up to help plant 60m of new hedging up around Postman's Path on a bright, crisp day in early January, together with roughly 30m of infill planting on White Hill Quarry. More community planting events are planned throughout the year and will be announced on the Facebook page. We also purchased a survey wheel to make more detailed evaluations of high priority hedges with a view to seeking funding for contractors to plant some of the longer sections, and will be building on the initial trial hedge laying exercise conducted at White Hill Quarry, hopefully with some instruction sessions followed by practical activities.

Hedgehog project:

From March we expect South Stoke’s hedgehogs to be emerging from their winter hibernation. Once again, we’d like you to let us know if you see a hedgehog in our Parish. You can do this via our website (using the hedgehog survey form) or drop us a message on our Facebook page. Mapping hedgehog sightings will highlight areas already accessible to local hogs and help us identify opportunities to connect up disparate hedgehog friendly habitats to support these vulnerable mammals. You can see the maps we've created so far here.

our 2021 starting point

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We had a list of potential projects as long as your arm. These are the ones we selected to start us off in our first year and will be continuing with during 2022.

community gardens proposal

Please support our proposal to develop a Community Garden on the site of The Park.  With a focus on permaculture, sustainability, inclusiveness, health and wellbeing; involvement for all in the heart of the village and the promise of organic produce, fun and learning plus orchard fruits, coppiced wood and the occasional batch of compost...it needs your vote to the Parish Council to make it happen. It's an amazing opportunity to create a life enhancing community asset.

hedgerow and tree survey

As part of our aim to survey and record the flora and fauna present in the parish, we are going to do a survey in September/October of as many hedges and trees as possible, and plot these on maps. We are particularly interested to see what wildlife corridors exist, connecting the various habitats around us. The survey results should give us an idea of the quality and variety of the hedges, and help identify any scope for improvement. If you'd like to help out, please sign up here

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hedgehog project

How many hedgehogs have we got and where are they? We want to find out. We might then be able to see how we could improve things for them. People love hedgehogs, so it would be great to know what we can do to reverse their decline. 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 footage captured on 9th and 10th May 2021

hedgehog survey 

hedgehog survey update

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wildflower survey

We aim to survey the wildflowers of South Stoke, to see what grows where. We think there is a huge variety, but nobody has worked out exactly what. We plan to choose around 4 or 5 sites and undertake a baseline survey and then monitor these sites over a number of years to see what changes occur. The sites will be in differing habitats and will either be on public land or, with the written consent of the landowner, private terrain.  We will be looking for woodland, hedgerow, chalk grassland, alluvial grassland and wet sites. The surveys will be done through the summer when wildflowers and grasses are most likely to be in bloom. Ideally, we would have a group of up to 5 or 6 to spread the work, and we might need to work out how to do this safely regarding Covid. If anyone comes forward with botanical knowledge that would be very helpful! This could be an interesting opportunity to learn about our local flora and to gain, or improve, identification skills.

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dragonfly survey

There are at least 11 species of dragonfly and damselfly in the parish and probably more. Dragonflies have been around for hundreds of millions of years and we'd like to know exactly which ones are here. We are conducting an ongoing survey in conjunction with The British Dragonfly Society.  You could help.

 glowworm survey

We only have one street light, but there are dozens of glowworms. They can be found along the Ridgeway path and sometimes, on the edges of the Glebe field. What is it about these places that they like, and what would we need to do to increase their range? We aim to find out.

historical projects

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Our first project was to build some nesting boxes for solitary bees.  We made a couple of dozen to distribute around the village. They are all installed now, a metre  or more above ground and in sunny sites. We’ll be monitoring their success. There are about 240 species of solitary bee in the UK, 10% of which are facing extinction. Some solitary bees nest in hollow spaces like the ones in these nest boxes and the commonest locally is the Red Mason Bee Osmia bicornis. They nest between April and July, they don’t sting and are great pollinators. 

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